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Atmospheric Aerosol Loading and Transport Due to the 1783-84 Laki Eruption in Iceland, Interpreted from Ash Particles and Acidity in the GISP2 Ice Core

  • R. Joseph Fiacco (a1), Thorvaldur Thordarson (a2), Mark S. Germani (a3), Stephen Self (a4), Julie M. Palais (a5), Sallie Whitlow (a1) and Peter M. Grootes (a6)...

Glass shards from the A.D. 1783 Laki fissure eruption in Iceland have been identified in the GISP2 ice core from Summit, Greenland, at a level just preceding the major acidity/sulfate peak. Detailed reconstruction of ice stratigraphy, coupled with analyses of solid particles from filtered samples, indicate that a small amount of Laki ash was carried via atmospheric transport to Greenland in the summer of 1783, whereas the main aerosol precipitation occurred in the summer and early fall of 1784. Sulfate concentrations in the ice increase slightly during late summer and fall of 1783 and remain steady throughout the winter due to slow oxidation rates during this season in the Arctic. The sulfate concentration rises dramatically in the spring and summer of 1784, producing a massive sulfate peak, previously believed to have accumulated during the summer of 1783 and commonly used as the marker horizon in Greenland ice core studies. The chronology of ash and acid fallout at the GISP2 site suggests that a significant portion of the Laid eruption plume penetrated the tropopause and that aerosol generated from it remained aloft for at least 1 yr after the eruption. Based on comparisons with other glaciochemical seasonal indicators, abnormally cool conditions prevailed at Summit during the summer of 1784. This further supports the claim that a significant volume of sulfate aerosol remained in the Arctic middle atmosphere well after the eruption had ceased.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
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