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Scientists May Have Source For 1257 A.D. ‘Mystery Eruption’

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
September 30, 2013

Scientists think they’ve identified the source of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred in 1257 A.D. and spread telltale traces across the globe.

The culprit in the “mystery eruption” appears to be the Samalas volcano, part of the Mount Rinjani Volcanic Complex on Indonesia’s Lombok Island, an international team of scientists publishing in PNAS journal say.

The team, led by geographer Franck Lavigne, says the previously unattributed eruption was “an estimated eight times as large as the famed Krakatau erpution of 1883 and twice as large as Tambora in 1815,” according to National Geographic. Krakatau and Tambora are also located in Indonesia, which is a volcanic and seismic hotspot.

The team examined sulfur and dust traces found in polar ice to similar samples collected near Samalas and found a match.

An estimated 10 cubic miles of rock and ask may have been spewed from the volcano at the time of the eruption, causing a significant impact on the climate.

The BBC writes:

“Medieval texts describe atrocious weather the following summer in AD1258. It was cold, and the rain was unrelenting, leading to flooding.

Archaeologists recently put a date of AD1258 on the skeletons of thousands of people who were buried in mass graves in London.

‘We cannot say for sure these two events are linked but the populations would definitely have been stressed,’ Prof Lavigne told BBC News.”

[Copyright 2013 NPR]

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