I found this story on the TV show QI (series J, episode "J-Places").
In 1883, the volcano Krakatoa (which is west of Java, Indonesia) erupted. This eruption was estimated to be more powerful than 13 atomic bombs and, as such, it produced what scientists have determined to be the loudest sound ever experienced by humanity. Anyone within 10 miles of the eruption went deaf. The sound could be heard 3,000 miles away and its shock waves reverberated around the world 7 times.
When it was finally safe for humans to explore the sight, they found that everything had died–both plant and animal life. To the explorers' surprise, one living thing managed to survive on the island: a spider. How it survived, no one knows.
Five cubic miles of rock were spewed in the air, obliterating most of the volcano itself and also destroying the island on which the volcano resides (that island is now a group of smaller islands). Here is a drawing of the volcano before the eruption:
And here is one during the eruption (drawn in 1888):
This eruption was so devastating that it caused several large tsunamis which killed over 36,000 people. Weather patterns were disrupted for years and the global temperature dropped by 1.2 degrees Celsius. This was the first truly global event, since it affected absolutely everyone in some way or another, even if it just meant experiencing slightly bizarre weather for a few years.