At some point in the distant past, Krakatau consisted of a single, large volcanic island. This island was destroyed in eruptions presumably of great violence, leaving three fragments of the original volcanic walls in a broken ring, or caldera, around the edge of this original island. The three islands are now named Rakata, Sertung and Panjang. Subsequently, further eruptions began, building up the largest island (Rakata) back into the center of the caldera. As of 1883, the only previous recorded eruptions had come from this big island in 1680. The islands of Panjang and Sertung, then as now, remained dormant. Then in May of 1883, eruptions began again on the big island, and one by one, the three peaks of the island -- Perboewatan, Danan and Rakata -- each came into action as the cycle of building and destruction reached its peak. Finally, on August 27th, the sequence ended in catastrophe, as huge volumes of ejecta were hurled into the sky, plunging the surrounding region .