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Impact of the Late Glacial Eruption of the Laacher See Volcano, Central Rhineland, Germany

  • Michael Baales (a1), Olaf Jöris (a1), Martin Street (a1), Felix Bittmann (a2), Bernhard Weninger (a3) and Julian Wiethold (a4)...

Within a period of a few weeks toward the end of the Allerød Interstadial, the major Plinian eruption of the Laacher See volcano produced some 20 km3 of eruptiva, covering and preserving the late-glacial landscape in the German Central Rhineland over an area of more than 1000 km2. Correlation of terrestrial archives with the Greenland ice-core records and improved calibration of the radiocarbon timescale permit a precise, accurate age determination of the Laacher See event some 200 yr before the onset of the Younger Dryas cold episode. Carbonized trees and botanical macrofossils preserved by Laacher See Tephra permit detailed regional paleoenvironmental reconstruction and show that open woodland were typical for the cool and humid hemiboreal climatic conditions during the late Allerød. This woodland provided the habitat for a large variety of animal species, documented at both paleontological and Final Paleolithic archeological sites preserved below Laacher See deposits. Of special interest are numerous animal tracks intercalated in Middle Laacher See deposits at the south of the Neuwied Basin. This knowledge may help to evaluate possible supraregional impacts of this volcanic event on northern hemispheric environment and climate during the late Allerød.

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