Transatlantic distribution of the Alaskan White River Ash

Britta Jensen, Sean Pyne-O'Donnell, Gill Plunkett, Duane G. Froese, Paul D.M. Hughes, Michael Sigl, Joseph R. McConnell, Matthew J. Amesbury, Paul G. Blackwell, Christel van den Bogaard, Caitlin E. Buck, Dan J. Charman, John J. Clague, Valerie Hall, Johannes Koch, Helen Mackay, Gunnar Mallon, Lynsey McColl, Jonathan R. Pilcher

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Abstract

Volcanic ash layers preserved within the geologic record represent precise time markers that correlate disparate depositional environments and enable the investigation of synchronous and/or asynchronous behaviors in Earth system and archaeological sciences. However, it is generally assumed that only exceptionally powerful events, such as supereruptions (≥450 km3 of ejecta as dense-rock equivalent; recurrence interval of ∼105 yr), distribute ash broadly enough to have an impact on human society, or allow us to address geologic, climatic, and cultural questions on an intercontinental scale. Here we use geochemical, age, and morphological evidence to show that the Alaskan White River Ash (eastern lobe; A.D. 833–850) correlates to the “AD860B” ash (A.D. 846–848) found in Greenland and northern Europe. These occurrences represent the distribution of an ash over 7000 km, linking marine, terrestrial, and ice-core records. Our results indicate that tephra from more moderate-size eruptions, with recurrence intervals of ∼100 yr, can have substantially greater distributions than previously thought, with direct implications for volcanic dispersal studies, correlation of widely distributed proxy records, and volcanic hazard assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-878
JournalGeology
Volume42
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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    Jensen, B., Pyne-O'Donnell, S., Plunkett, G., Froese, D. G., Hughes, P. D. M., Sigl, M., McConnell, J. R., Amesbury, M. J., Blackwell, P. G., van den Bogaard, C., Buck, C. E., Charman, D. J., Clague, J. J., Hall, V., Koch, J., Mackay, H., Mallon, G., McColl, L., & Pilcher, J. R. (2014). Transatlantic distribution of the Alaskan White River Ash. Geology, 42(10), 875-878. https://doi.org/10.1130/G35945.1