History of Toba Lake

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IT has begun with a myth and later has been confirmed with a story of the biggest bang in the 10 million years of the earth’s history.

Once upon a time, in the Sumatera Island, after fishing for a whole day, a young fisherman named Toba finally caught a big goldfish. He was very happy. But, just after he saw the eyes of the goldfish, Toba suddenly felt sorry and let it go into the river. He went home empty-handed.

First published in Coconut Express, HELP, Honolulu, August 2007.

Surprisingly, at his home he found a woman cooking his dinner. The woman said she had transformed into a woman from the goldfish. As a reward for Toba’s benevolence, the woman offered herself and became a wife for Toba.

They married and got a son named Samosir. They were a happy family, until one day Samosir came late to bring Toba’s lunch. Tired and hungry at the same time, Toba angrily told Samosir that he was a son from a fish-mother.

Samosir ran to find his mother and told her what Toba said about his mother. Disappointed with Toba, the mother and the son left their house. Samosir climbed the highest tree on a small hill while his mother went to the river and again became a gold fish after cursing Toba.

Then there was a flood for days, eventually forming a lake and enfolding the village. And the small hill where Samosir saved himself then became an island named after his name.

It was a myth about the famous Toba Lake in North Sumatera Province, Indonesia.

Many scientists believe that around 73,000 years ago, the area of about 1,140 square kilometers was a very huge volcano. According to a report in 1949 made by Dutch geologist Van Bemmelen, Toba Lake, surrounded by a vast layer of ignimbrite rocks consisting essentially of pumice fragments, was formed by the consolidation of material deposit.

Later in Malaysia and India, other scientists found volcanic ash similar to that in surroundings Toba. Even oceanographers revealed the same ash on the floor of the eastern Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. From this phenomenon, researchers concluded that the eruption of Toba volcano dating 73,000 years back was the biggest eruption in the last 10 million years.

Some years ago, two researchers from Michigan Technological University, Bill Rose and Craig Chesner, combined all information about Toba Lake and came to a conclusion that the eruption blew ash and ignimbrite rock about 2,800 square kilometers. About 800 square kilometers ignimbrite moved and demolished everything in its path. In the remaining 2,000 square kilometers ash fell and moved due to the west wind. Rose and Craig believed that the eruption lasted two weeks and killed everything in a very big number, including of humans and animals.

Now, the things people appreciate and admire about Lake Toba are its beauty, charm, fresh air, and blue water as one of the well-known tourism destinations in the country. You can reach the Samosir Island by riding a ferry for about 60 minutes where you can find other stories and myths on the island.

A lot of people know about the myth of Toba and his goldfish wife, and not a lot understand that it was a very huge volcano in the Ring of Fire of the world.


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