Skip to main content Accessibility help

A 110,000-Yr Record of Explosive Volcanism from the GISP2 (Greenland) Ice Core

  • Gregory A. Zielinski (a1), Paul A. Mayewski (a1), L. David Meeker (a1), S. Whitlow (a1) and Mark S. Twickler (a1)...


The time series of volcanically produced sulfate from the GISP2 ice core is used to develop a continuous record of explosive volcanism over the past 110,000 yr. We identified ∼850 volcanic signals (700 of these from 110,000 to 9000 yr ago) with sulfate concentrations greater than that associated with historical eruptions from either equatorial or mid-latitude regions that are known to have perturbed global or Northern Hemisphere climate, respectively. This number is a minimum because decreasing sampling resolution with depth, source volcano location, variable circulation patterns at the time of the eruption, and post-depositional modification of the signal can result in an incomplete record. The largest and most abundant volcanic signals over the past 110,000 yr, even after accounting for lower sampling resolution in the earlier part of the record, occur between 17,000 and 6000 yr ago, during and following the last deglaciation. A second period of enhanced volcanism occurs 35,000–22,000 yr ago, leading up to and during the last glacial maximum. These findings further support a possible climate-forcing component in volcanism. Increased volcanism often occurs during stadial/interstadial transitions within the last glaciation, but this is not consistent over the entire cycle. Ages for some of the largest known eruptions 100,000–9000 yr ago closely correspond to individual sulfate peaks or groups of peaks in our record.



Hide All
Alley, R. B. Meese, D. Shuman, C. A. Gow, A. J. Taylor, K. Grootes, P. Ram, M. Waddington, E. D. White, J. W. C. Mayewski, P. A., and Zielinski, G. A. (1993). Abrupt accumulation increase at the Younger Dryas termination in the GISP2 ice core. Nature 362 , 527529.
Björck, S. Ingόlfsson, O. Haflidason, H. Hallsdόttir, M., and Anderson, N. J. (1992). Lake Torfadalsvatn: A high resolution record of the North Atlantic ash zone 1 and the last glacial–interglacial environmental changes in Iceland. Boreas 21 , 1522.
Bogaard, P. v. d., and Schmincke, H. U. (1985). Laacher See tephra: A widespread isochronous late Quaternary tephra layer in central and northern Europe. Geological Society of America Bulletin 96 , 15541571.
Bogaard, P. v. d. Schmincke, H.-U. Freundt, A., and Park, C. (1990). Evolution of complex plinian eruptions: The late Quaternary Laacher See case history. In “Thera and the Aegean World, Vol. 2, Earth Science” (Hardy, D. A., Ed.), pp. 463489. Thera Foundation, London.
Bray, J. R. (1974). Glacial advance relative to volcanic activity since A.D. 1500. Nature 248 , 4243.
Bray, J. R. (1976). Volcanic triggering of glaciation. Nature 260 , 414415.
Bryson, R. A., and Goodman, B. M. (1980). Volcanic activity and climate changes. Science 207 , 10411044.
Castagnoli, G. C. Albrecht, A. Beer, J. Bonino, G. Shen, C. Callegari, E. Taricco, C., Dittrich-Hannen, B. Kubik, P. Suter, M., and Zhu, G. M. (1995). Evidence for enhanced 10Be deposition in Mediterranean sediments 35 Kyr BP. Geophysical Research Letters 22 , 707710.
Chesner, C. A. Rose, W. I. Deino, A. Drake, R., and Westgate, J. A. (1991). Eruptive history of Earth’s largest Quaternary caldera (Toba, Indonesia) clarified. Geology 19 , 200203.
Delmas, R. J. Kirchner, S. Palais, J. M., and Petit, J. R. (1992). 1000 years of explosive volcanism recorded at the South Pole. Tellus B 44 , 335350.
Drexler, J. W. Rose, W. I. Jr. Sparks, R. S. J., and Ledbetter, M. T. (1980). The Los Chocoyos Ash, Guatemala: A major stratigraphic marker in Middle America and in three ocean basins. Quaternary Research 13 , 327345.
Froggatt, P. C., and Lowe, D. J. (1990). A review of late Quaternary silicic and some other tephra formations from New Zealand: Their stratigraphy, nomenclature, distribution, volume, and age. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 33 , 89109.
Grove, E. W. (1976). Deglaciation—A Possible triggering mechanism for recent volcanism. In “Andean and Antarctic Volcanology Problems,” International Association of Volcanologists Symposium, pp. 8897. Santiago.
Hammer, C. U. Clausen, H. B., and Dansgaard, W. (1980). Greenland ice sheet evidence of post-glacial volcanism and its climatic impact. Nature 288 , 230235.
Kutzbach, J. E. Guetter, P. J. Behling, P. J., and Selin, R. (1993). Simulated climatic changes: Results of the COHMAP climate-model experiments. In “Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum” (Wright, H. E. Jr. Kutzbach, J. E. Webb, T. III Ruddiman, W. F. Street-Perrott, F. A., and Bartlein, P. J., Eds.), pp. 2493. Univ. of Minneapolis Press, Minneapolis.
Kvamme, T. Mangerud, J. Furnes, H., and Ruddiman, W. F. (1989). Geochemistry of Pleistocene ash zones in cores from the North Atlantic. Norsk Geologisk Tidsskrift 69 , 251272.
Ledbetter, M. T. (1985). Tephrochronology of marine tephra adjacent to Central America. Geological Society of America Bulletin 96 , 7782.
Legrand, M., and Delmas, R. J. (1987). A 220-year continuous record of volcanic H2SO4 in the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Nature 327 , 671676.
Machida, H., and Arai, F. (1992). ‘‘Atlas of Tephra in and around Japan.” Univ. of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.
Mangerud, J. Furnes, H., and Jόhansen, J. (1986). A 9000-year-old ash bed on the Faroe Islands. Quaternary Research 26 , 262265.
Mayewski, P. A. Holdsworth, G. Spencer, M. J. Whitlow, S. Twickler, M. Morrison, M. C. Ferland, K. K., and Meeker, L. D. (1993). Ice core sulfate from three Northern Hemisphere sites: Source and temperature forcing implications. Atmospheric Environment A 27 , 29152919.
Mayewski, P. A. Meeker, L. D. Whitlow, S. Twicler, M. S. Morrison, M. C. Grootes, P. M. Bond, G. C. Alley, R. B. Meese, D. A., and Gow, T. (1994). Changes in atmospheric circulation and ocean ice cover over the North Atlantic Region during the last 41,000 years. Science 263 , 17471751.
Meese, D. A. Alley, R. B. Gow, A. J. Grootes, P. Mayewski, P. A. Ram, M. Taylor, K. C., and Zielinski, G. A. (1994). Preliminary depth/age scale of the GISP2 Core. Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory Special Report, 94-1, 66 p.
Miller, T. P., and Smith, R. L. (1987). Late Quaternary caldera-forming eruptions in the eastern Aleutian arc, Alaska. Geology 15 , 434438.
Nakada, M., and Yokose, H. (1992). Ice age as a trigger of active Quaternary volcanism and tectonism. Tectonophysics 212 , 321329.
Norddahl, H., and Haflidason, H. (1992). The Skόgar Tephra, a Younger Dryas marker in North Iceland. Boreas 21 , 2341.
O’Brien, S. R. Mayewski, P. A. Meeker, L. D. Twickler, M. S., and Whitlow, S. I. (1995). The Holocene’s dynamic environment: Interpretations from a Greenland ice core. Science 270 , 19621964.
Palais, J. M. Germani, M. S., and Zielinski, G. A. (1992). Inter-hemispheric transport of volcanic ash from a 1259 A.D. volcanic eruption to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Geophysical Research Letters 19 , 801804.
Peixoto, J. P., and Oort, A. H. (1992). ‘‘Physics of Climate.” American Institute of Physics, New York.
Porter, S. C. (1978). Glacier Peak tephra in the north Cascade Range, Washington: Stratigraphy, distribution, and relationship to late-glacial events. Quaternary Research 10 , 3041.
Porter, S. C. (1981). Recent glacier variations and volcanic eruptions. Nature 291 , 139142.
Rabek, K. Ledbetter, M. T., and Williams, D. F. (1985). Tephrochronology of the western Gulf of Mexico for the last 185,000 years. Quaternary Research 23 , 403416.
Rampino, M. R. Self, S., and Fairbridge, R. W. (1979). Can rapid climatic change cause volcanic eruptions? Science 206 , 826829.
Rampino, M. R., and Self, S. (1993). Climate-volcanism feedback and the Toba eruption of ˜ 74,000 years ago. Quaternary Research 40 , 269280.
Robock, A. (1979). The ‘‘Little Ice Age”: Northern Hemisphere average observations and model calculations. Science 206 , 14021404.
Robock, A., and Free, M. P. (1995). Ice cores as an index of global volcanism from 1850 to the present. Journal of Geophysical Research 100 , 11,54911,567.
Rose, W. I. Hahn, G. A. Drexler, J. W. Malinconico, M. L. Peterson, P. S., and Wunderman, R. L. (1981). Quaternary tephra of northern Central America. In “Tephra Studies” (Self, S. and Sparks, R. S. J., Eds.), pp. 193211. Reidel, London/Dordrecht.
Sarna-Wojcicki, A. M. Lajoie, K. R. Meyer, C. E. Adam, D. P., and Rieck, H. J. (1991). Tephrochronologic correlation of upper Neogene sediments along the Pacific margin, conterminous United States. In ‘‘Quaternary Nonglacial Geology; Conterminous U.S.” (Morrison, R. B., Ed.), pp. 117140. Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO.
Sigurdsson, H., and Loebner, B. (1981). Deep-sea record of Cenozoic explosive volcanism. In “Tephra Studies” (Self, S. and Sparks, R. S. J., Eds.), pp. 289316. Reidel, London/Dordrecht.
Sigvaldason, G. E. Annertz, K., and Nilsson, M. (1992). Effect of glacier loading/deloading on volcanism: Postglacial volcanic production rate of the Dyngjufjöll area, central Iceland. Bulletin of Volcanology 54 , 385392.
Simkin, T. (1993). Terrestrial volcanism in space and time. Annual Reviews in Earth and Planetary Science 21 , 427452.
Sowers, T. Bender, M. Labeyrie, L. Martinson, D. Jouzel, J. Raynaud, , (1989), Pichon, J. J., and Korotkevsch, Y. (1993). 135,000 year Vostok-SPECMAP common temporal framework. Paleoceanography 8 , 737766.
Stommel, H., and Stommel, E. (1983). ‘‘Volcano Weather.” Seven Seas Press, Newport, RI.
Stuiver, M., and Reimer, P. J. (1993). Extended 14C data base and revised calib 3.0 14C age calibration program. Radiocarbon 35 , 215230.
Tilling, R. I. (1989). ‘‘Volcanic Hazards.” American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC.
Vezzoli, L. (1991). Tephra layers in Bannock Basin (eastern Mediterranean). Marine Geology 100 , 2134.
Zielinski, G. A. Mayewski, P. A. Meeker, L. D. Whitlow, S. Twickler, M. S. Morrison, M. Meese, D. Alley, R. B., and Gow, A. J. (1994). Record of volcanism since 7000 B.C. from the GISP2 Greenland ice core and implications for the volcano–climate system. Science 264 , 948952.
Zielinski, G. A. (1995). Stratospheric loading and optical depth estimates of explosive volcanism over the last 2100 years derived from the GISP2 Greenland ice core. Journal of Geophysical Research 100 , 20,93720,955.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

A 110,000-Yr Record of Explosive Volcanism from the GISP2 (Greenland) Ice Core

  • Gregory A. Zielinski (a1), Paul A. Mayewski (a1), L. David Meeker (a1), S. Whitlow (a1) and Mark S. Twickler (a1)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.