Scientists have revealed more about the volcanic eruption that shook the ancient Maya



Ilopango Caldera as it appears today.

Ilopango Caldera as it appears today.
The image: Gerardo Aguirre-Diaz

Using a combination of archaeological and geological evidence, scientists eventually pinpoint the date of the infamous Tierra Blanca Jovan eruption, which likely devastated Mayan communities in El Salvador.

The Ilopango volcano blew its heap 1,589 years ago – give one or two years according to the new The research Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was published this week. This volcano erupted well over 1,000 years ago Is well established, but new research ultimately writes in a paper, which will be of interest to archaeologists, historians, geologists and climate scientists.

Ilopango Caldera is located within the Central American Volcanic Arc (CAVA), which extends from Guatemala to Panama to the Pacific coast. So powerful was the Tierra Blanca Joven explosion in areas within 50 miles (80 kg)Meters) Were rendered uninhabited for years of vent And possibly decades After the explosion.

“Nevertheless, the more widespread environmental and climatic effects of this large eruption are not well known because the intensity and date of the eruption are not well constrained,” the researchers wrote In studies.

Researchers used three different lines of geological evidence to pinpoint the eruption date to 431 CE, including volcanic sharks (sharks later associated with Ilango volcanoes) found in pieces of ice from Greenland, Antarctic ice K sulfur spikes found in the core, and radiocarbons. Dating of a sacred tree found in volcanic ash deposits. Archaeological evidence also coincides with this date, as ceramics production in El Salvador abruptly ended at this time, a break about 100 to 150 years.


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About 6 miles (10 km) from the volcano, thick ash is accumulating. About 6 miles (10 km) from the volcano, thick ash is accumulating.
The image: Gerardo Aguirre-Diaz

To learn more about the eruption, researchers gathered and sampled ash deposits scattered in El Salvador.

“A large part of this research has been made possible for all the data obtained during the three field expeditions conducted in El Salvador, during which we did a detailed mapping of the ash deposits present over an area of ​​200,000 square kilometers. [77,220 square miles], “Dario Pedrazzi, a researcher at Geoscience Barcelona-CSIC (GEO3BCN) and co-author of the study, explained Press release.

By measuring the spread of tephra-bits of fallen rock and volcanic debris, scientists were able to simulate the eruption. As the model showed, the eruption sent a plume 28 miles (45 km) high into the atmosphere, and it spread about 4,350 miles (7,000 km) away, covering all paths. Greenland. According to the study, about 13 cubic miles (55 cubic kilometers) were ejected from the magma volcano, and more than 772,200 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of Central America were put into blankets.

Sun Smith did not surface for nearly a week, as the first author and an archaeologist at the University of Oxford reported in a press release. The Tierra Blanca Jovan eruption was “50 times larger than Mount St. Helens,” which erupted 40 years earlier, and “the pyroclastic flow from the eruption of Ilopango was 10 times the volume of those from Vesuvius, which exploded in 79 Went. CE, preserving the Roman city of Pompey in ashes, “he said.

The possibility of an eruption led to a drop in temperature in the Southern Hemisphere for a few years, but only by a factor of 0.5 to 1 ° C. “There are very few well-dated paleosomal proxy records for the Southern Hemisphere to verify the climate impact of the eruption,” the study wrote. Authors.

Importantly, this eruption occurred during the early Classic period (around 300 to 600 CE), a time when Mayan culture flourished in Central America. The explosion, while devastating locally, did not affect Mayan communities. Elsewhere, or at least not to a significant degree; “The eruption has only major effects on populations within 8080 km of the volcano,” the study appears.

Other researchers should now take the newly established date and see what is They can correlate it with events from the year 431 CE and later years. As in other research got to know, Volcanic eruptions have a long reach affecting events on the other side of the world.


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