Geochemical ice-core constraints on the timing and climatic impact of Aniakchak II (1628 BCE) and Thera (Minoan) volcanic eruptions

Pearson, Charlotte; Sigl, Michael; Burke, Andrea; Davies, Siwan; Kurbatov, Andrei; Severi, Mirko; Cole-Dai, Jihong; Innes, Helen; Albert, Paul G.; Helmick, Meredith (2022). Geochemical ice-core constraints on the timing and climatic impact of Aniakchak II (1628 BCE) and Thera (Minoan) volcanic eruptions. PNAS nexus, 1(2) Oxford University Press 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac048

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Decades of research have focused on establishing the exact year and climatic impact of the Minoan eruption of Thera, Greece (c.1680 to 1500 BCE). Ice cores offer key evidence to resolve this controversy, but attempts have been hampered by a lack of multivolcanic event synchronization between records. In this study, Antarctic and Greenland ice-core records are synchronized using a double bipolar sulfate marker, and calendar dates are assigned to each eruption revealed within the ‘Thera period’. From this global-scale sequence of volcanic sulfate loading,we derive indications toward each eruption’s latitude and potential to disrupt the climate system. Ultrafine sampling for sulfur isotopes and tephra conclusively demonstrate a colossal eruption of Alaska’s Aniakchak II as the source
of stratospheric sulfate in the now precisely dated 1628 BCE ice layer. These findings end decades of speculation that Thera was responsible for the 1628 BCE event, and place Aniakchak II (52 ± 17 Tg S) and an unknown volcano at 1654 BCE (50 ± 13 Tg S) as two of the largest Northern Hemisphere sulfur injections in the last 4,000 years. This opens possibilities to explore widespread climatic
impacts for contemporary societies and, in pinpointing Aniakchak II, confirms that stratospheric sulfate can be globally distributed from eruptions outside the tropics. Dating options for Thera are reduced to a series of precisely dated, constrained stratospheric sulfur injection events at 1611 BCE, 1561/1558/1555 BCE, and c.1538 BCE, which are all below 14 ± 5 Tg S, indicating a climatic forcing potential
for Thera well below that of Tambora (1815 CE).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Sigl, Michael


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




Oxford University Press


[18] European Research Council


[1314] Timing of Holocene volcanic eruptions and their radiative aerosol forcing




Michael Sigl

Date Deposited:

30 Jun 2022 07:55

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:21

Publisher DOI:





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