Chronologically secure volcanic events can provide an important tool to improve ice core dating as well as our understanding of volcano-climate responses. However, there is a substantial lack of reference horizons for ice-core dating during the first millennium, excepting the Taupo (New Zealand, AD186×10) and Vesuvius (Italy, AD 79) eruptions. In this exploratory case-study, we use a total of 20 ice core records, 9 from the Arctic and 11 from the Antarctic, together with historical records to examine the occurrence and climatic impact of explosive volcanism, AD 670-730. Sulfate signals comparable in magnitude to the sizeable 1815 Tambora eruption are detected in all of the ice-core time series, with different cores attributing the timing of eruptions to AD 676×2, 688×2, or 700×2, respectively. Historical records of widespread frost damage, anomalously warm winters, drought, famine and mortality from Chinese, European and Middle Eastern chronicles suggest substantial climate and social perturbations during AD 677-685 and AD 699-709. The distinctive double-peak feature seen in the majority of the volcanic signals from both poles at AD 676×2 and AD 688×2 suggests that these signals may belong to the same eruption, with those cores dating the signals to c.AD 676 generally considered to have a more precise chronology. Combining the evidence from natural and historical anthropogenic records and taking into account uncertainties (e.g. resolution, dating accuracy) associated with individual ice cores, we propose that a (most-likely) low-latitude eruption took place around AD676, followed by another possible eruption around AD700, identifiable by the significant acidity in polar ice-caps and historical documents. Unique historical observations of 'blood rain' in Ireland (often associated with Saharan sand deposition, but also plausibly with iron and manganese-rich tephra falls) also suggest a high-latitude eruption (possibly Icelandic) at AD693, corresponding to a GISP2 volcanic signal at 690.7×2.5. Results from this study attempt to characterize and reduce uncertainties in ice-core volcanic reconstructions, and make a contribution towards establishing a new reference horizon for this relatively under-studied period.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2013
- 8408 VOLCANOLOGY Volcano/climate interactions;
- 1749 HISTORY OF GEOPHYSICS Volcanology;
- and petrology