Friday, August 29, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Rock doc: One big eruption

By
From page A4 | November 04, 2013 |

When I was a child, I read a lot of murder mysteries. At a young age I favored the books featuring Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. When I was a bit older I fell in love with Lord Peter Wimsey in the books by Dorothy Sayers. No matter the book, I liked to follow along as the hero of the tale put the clues together to figure out who-done-it.

So the quote from the BBC News got my attention. It was from Prof. Franck Lavigne of the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in France.
“We didn’t know the culprit at first, but we had the time of the murder and the fingerprints,” Lavigne said.
It wasn’t literally a murder that Lavigne was discussing, although many deaths may have been related to what happened. Instead, the mystery was one that hinged on geology. What’s at issue was evidence that a major volcanic eruption occurred somewhere in the world in the year 1257. The eruption was large enough its geochemical signature — or fingerprints — show up in both Arctic and Antarctic ice of medieval age.
In Europe, written records show atrocious weather hitting society hard one year later in 1258. It was cold and rainy throughout the growing season that year, with flooding replacing good harvests. In London, thousands of people were buried in mass graves, possibly due to hunger weakening the population and making it more susceptible to disease.
But where was the smoking gun, the volcano that had caused the problem? Candidates had been put forward in New Zealand, Mexico and Ecuador, but none of them quite fit the time or the specific chemical fingerprint found in the volcanic material buried in the ice.
Recently an international team of researchers announced their evidence that the Samalas Volcano on Lombok Island, Indonesia, was the culprit that caused short-lived but worldwide climate change. The team looked at several different types of evidence, including sulfur and volcanic dust traces in ice, as well as what’s found at Lombok. They also did radiocarbon dating of materials and they even checked with local written records that tell of the fall of the Lombok Kingdom in the 1200s.
“The evidence is very strong and compelling,” said Prof. Clive Oppenheimer of Cambridge University, speaking to the BBC.
Oppenheimer, Lavigne and their colleagues tied together the evidence of the far-away ice with material found in the Lombok region. They argue that about 10 cubic miles of volcanic material was hurled skyward in an enormous eruption. The smallest particles launched upward would have reached an altitude of 25 miles or more. Only such an enormous eruption would have carried volcanic materials in the quantities identified in Antarctic and Greenland ice layers. And an eruption on that scale would have made for significant climate change.
It’s not always that scientists are given a full set of clues that wrap fully around the world. But such appears to have been the case in the mystery of what happened in the year 1257.
Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. 

Comments

Subscription Required

Thank you for reading the MtDemocrat.com digital edition. In order to continue reading this story please choose one of the following options.

Current Subscribers
If you are a current subscriber and wish to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com, please select the Subscriber Verification option below. If you already have a login, please select "Login" at the lower right corner of this box.

Subscriber Verification

Special Introductory Offer
For a short time we will be offering a discount to those who call us in order to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your print subscription. Our customer support team will be standing by Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to assist you.

Call and Save! (530) 344-5000

If you are not a current subscriber and wish not to take advantage of our special introductory offer, please select the $12 monthly option below to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your online subscription

Help?

E. Kirsten Peters

.

News

Heard over the back fence: Chamber of Commerce tee time

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Supreme Court denies Nutting

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
Sand Fire Benefit one big success

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Camp 2 Bridge deconstructed

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Acupuncture clinic aims to serve community

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Bigelow’s AB 2073 signed into law

By Kirk Kimmelshue | From Page: A3

 
Scholarship available for local forestry students

By News Release | From Page: A4

Mayors to meet for virtual handshake

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Farmn Bureau endorses Pratt for Dist. 2

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A9

 
Burke’s Corner: August 29, 2014

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A10

Labor Day closures

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A10

 
SLT Mental Health Clinic moving

By Health and Human Services Agency | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

Keep Kaser in prison

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A6

 
The weekly Daley: A little potpourri for a change

By Chris Daley | From Page: A6

Billingsley’s Bullets: Upbeat is always better

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: A6

 
.

Letters

Amaral for Supervisor

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Two letters’ reply

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

Small farms

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Tabloid headline

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

Letter to original Miwoks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Four days negates five years

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Tribute to Donnie Tilford

By Bill Sullivan | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Heinz-sight: It’s here …

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11

Gridiron season kicks off tonight

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

 
Bruins happy to be back in D-II

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11 | Gallery

2014 Ponderosa football roster

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Prospecting

Harris Center presents great performances

By Roberta Long | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Things to do: Aug. 29, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

Sample everything that is good

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2

 
Award-winning rosarian gives tips

By Mother Lode Rose Society | From Page: B3

Things get spicy in EDH

By Julie Samrick | From Page: B3

 
.

Essentials

Crime Log: Aug. 12-15

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Donald E. Doyle

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Wilma Martin Klein

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Gertrude “Dede” Elaine Wilkinson

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Rodney H. Johnson

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Peggy L. King

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

Too much information

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

 
When life changes hit home, don’t fear

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS6

Housing affordability declines statewide

Press Release | From Page: HS7

 
Building permits, housing on the rise

Press Release | From Page: HS15

.

Comics

.

Home Source

Too much information

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

When life changes hit home, don’t fear

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS6

Housing affordability declines statewide

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Building permits, housing on the rise

Press Release | From Page: HS15