An independently dated 2000-yr volcanic record from Law Dome, East Antarctica, including a new perspective on the dating of the c. 1450s eruption of Kuwae, Vanuatu
1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
2Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
3Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Australia
4Centre for Ice and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
5Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, USA
Abstract. Volcanic eruptions are an important cause of natural climate variability. In order to improve the accuracy of climate models, precise dating and magnitude of the climatic effects of past volcanism are necessary. Here we present a 2000-yr record of Southern Hemisphere volcanism recorded in ice cores from the high accumulation Law Dome site, East Antarctica. The ice cores were analyzed for a suite of chemistry signals and are independently dated via annual layer counting, with 11 ambiguous years by the end of the record. Independently dated records are important to avoid circular dating where volcanic signatures are assigned a date from some external information rather than using the date it is found in the ice core. Forty-five volcanic events have been identified using the sulfate chemistry of the Law Dome record. Comparisons between Law Dome and NGRIP (Greenland) volcanic records suggest Law Dome is the most accurately dated Antarctic volcanic dataset and allows for the records to be synchronized with NGRIP, leading to an improved global volcanic forcing dataset. Volcanic sulfate deposition estimates are important for modeling the climatic response to eruptions. The largest volcanic sulfate events in our record are dated at 1458 CE (Kuwae, Vanuatu), 1257 and 423 CE (unidentified). Using our record we refine the dating of previously known volcanic events and present evidence for two separate eruptions during the period 1450–1460 CE, potentially causing confusion in the assignment of the Kuwae (Vanuatu) eruption to volcanic signatures during this time interval.