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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Gregory A. Zielinski
Climate Change Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, 03824
Paul A. Mayewski
Climate Change Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, 03824
L. David Meeker
Climate Change Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, 03824
S. Whitlow
Climate Change Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, 03824
Mark S. Twickler
Climate Change Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, 03824


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.

Research Article
University of Washington

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