Ancient ice reveals scores of gigantic volcanic eruptions

Niels Bohr Institutet
Ice cores drilled in Antarctica and Greenland have revealed gigantic volcanic eruptions during the last ice age. Sixty-nine of these were larger than any eruption in modern history. According to the University of Copenhagen physicists behind the research, these eruptions can teach us about our planet’s sensitivity to climate change.

For many people, the mention of a volcanic eruption conjures up doomsday scenarios that include deafening explosions, dark ash billowing into the stratosphere and gloopy lava burying everything in its path as panicked humans run for their lives. While such an eruption could theoretically happen tomorrow, we have had to make do with disaster films and books when it comes to truly massive volcanic eruptions in the modern era.

"We haven’t experienced any of history’s largest volcanic eruptions. We can see that now. Eyjafjellajökull, which paralysed European air traffic in 2010, pales in comparison to the eruptions we identified further back in time. Many of these were larger than any eruption over the last 2,500 years," says Associate Professor Anders Svensson of the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute.
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Anders Svensson
Associate Professor
Niels Bohr Institute
University of Copenhagen
+45 35 32 06 16