The 1257 Samalas eruption (Lombok, Indonesia): the single greatest stratospheric gas release of the Common Era
Large explosive eruptions inject volcanic gases and fine ash to stratospheric altitudes, contributing to global cooling at the Earth’s surface and occasionally to ozone depletion. The modelling of the climate response to these strong injections of volatiles commonly relies on ice-core records of volcanic sulphate aerosols. Here we use an independent geochemical approach which demonstrates that the great 1257 eruption of Samalas (Lombok, Indonesia) released enough sulphur and halogen gases into the stratosphere to produce the reported global cooling during the second half of the 13th century, as well as potential substantial ozone destruction. Major, trace and volatile element compositions of eruptive products recording the magmatic differentiation processes leading to the 1257 eruption indicate that Mt Samalas released 158 ± 12 Tg of sulphur dioxide, 227 ± 18 Tg of chlorine and a maximum of 1.3 ± 0.3 Tg of bromine. These emissions stand as the greatest volcanogenic gas injection of the Common Era. Our findings not only provide robust constraints for the modelling of the combined impact of sulphur and halogens on stratosphere chemistry of the largest eruption of the last millennium, but also develop a methodology to better quantify the degassing budgets of explosive eruptions of all magnitudes.