Approximately 75,000 years ago, a massive explosive eruption from a volcano in western Indonesia (Toba caldera) coincided with the onset of the Earth’s last Ice Age.
In the current issue of Geology, University of Rhode Island geological oceanographers Meng-Yang Lee and Steven Carey; Chang-Hwa Chen and Yoshiyuki Iizuka of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan; and Kuo-Yen Wei of National Taiwan University describe their investigation into the possibility that eruptions from the Toba caldera on the island of Sumatra caused a severe "volcanic winter" and the initiation of a glacial period.
The magnitude of the oldest Toba eruptions had not previously been documented due to the difficulty in recognizing their widespread erupted products in marine sediments. Lee and the team of scientists present new data on the distribution of volcanic ash from the oldest Toba eruption in Ocean Drilling Program cores and piston cores in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. By using high-resolution litho-, magneto-, and oxygen isotope stratigraphic records, the geologists were able to clarify the correlation between distribution patterns in the cores, refine the age of the layers, and reestimate the eruptive volume of the early eruption of Toba.
Lisa Cugini | URI
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