Around 56 million years ago, global temperatures spiked. Researchers at Uppsala University and in the UK now show that a major explosive eruption from the Red Hills on the Isle of Skye may have been a contributing factor to the massive climate disturbance. Their findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Large explosive volcanic eruptions can have lasting effects on climate and have been held responsible for severe climate effects in Earth's history. One such event occurred around 56 million years ago when global temperatures increased by 5-8 °C.
This is a false color electron-microscope image of a resorbed apatite crystal (green) in pitchstone glass (blue). The composition of the pitchstone glass and the characteristic mineral textures are identical in the studied pitchstone sites of the Sgùrr of Eigg and Òigh-sgeir, although over 30km apart, indicating a common origin, and thus a large and geographically widespread volcanic eruption.
Credit: Valentin Troll
Usage Restrictions: May only be published in connection to reports about the research by Valentin Troll et al.
This event has been named the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The warm period was associated with volcanic activity in the North Atlantic region, especially in Greenland, the British Isles and the present day North Sea region. However, until now, no large-scale explosive eruptions had been confirmed in current-day Scotland.
A team of researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, the Universities of Durham and St Andrews in the UK, and the Scottish Environmental Research Centre in Glasgow, now seem to have found a missing piece of the puzzle.
By studying volcanic rocks called pitchstones from islands more than 30 kilometres apart in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, the researchers have found plausible evidence of a major eruption from what is today the Isle of Skye.
The researchers used several different methods to compare the pitchstones recovered from the two sites (Sgùrr of Eigg and Òigh-sgeir) including isotope geochemistry. Samples from the two pitchstone outcrops display identical textures and compositions in all analyses, confirming that the two outcrops represent deposits of a single, massive and explosive volcanic eruption.
The researcher's geochemical data identify the Red Hills on Skye, around 40 kilometres to the North, as the most likely vent area for this large eruption. Using this vent location, a reconstruction estimates the eruption to have been similar in magnitude to the infamous Krakatoa eruption of 1883, one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events in recorded history.
Earth scientists have long thought that the Scottish sector of the North Atlantic Volcanic province did not see any large explosive eruptions at the time of the PETM.
This notion is now contradicted by the findings of the current study and the researchers conclude that large explosive volcanic events in the Scottish sector of the North Atlantic Volcanic Province were likely a major contributing factor to the climate disturbance of the PETM.
Valentin R. Troll | EurekAlert!
Tiny satellites reveal water dynamics in thousands of northern lakes
15.02.2019 | Brown University
Artificial Intelligence to boost Earth system science
14.02.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.
The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...
Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens
Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...
Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light
When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...
The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...
Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs. The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications.
DNA is not only a popular research topic because it contains the blueprint for life – it can also be used to produce tiny components for technical applications.
11.02.2019 | Event News
30.01.2019 | Event News
16.01.2019 | Event News
15.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
15.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
15.02.2019 | Life Sciences