Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Vesuvius/Avellino, one possible source of seventeenth century BC climatic disturbances

Abstract

THE eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 (as described by Pliny) is the archetype1–4 of explosive 'plinian' eruptions which can cause recur-rent local destruction and which may affect global climate through aerosol emissions5–7. Studies of the past eruptions of such vol-canoes require accurate age determinations, especially if the erup-tions are to be correlated with distant events. Here we use materials from two plinian eruptions of Vesuvius, the AD 79 and the preceding Avelline1,8 event, to test the 14C methods that often provide these ages. Our 14C ages for charred samples and corrected soil reservoirs buried by the Avellino eruption averaged to 3,360 ±40 BP (1617–1703 cal BC), 200–500 years later than the original 14C ages of soil humic carbon9,10 and total organic carbon11. Furthermore, a re-evaluation of the 14C data for the Mount St Helens Yn and Aniakchak II eruptions suggests that these major plinian eruptions may also have occurred in the seventeenth century BC. The 14C ages for these three eruptions are identical, within uncertainties, to that of the 'Minoan’ eruption of Thera (Santorini), which has often been correlated with mid-seventeenth century BC disturb-ances recorded in tree-ring series12,13 and ice-core layers14. Addi-tional information is still required to distinguish which, if any, of the eruptions relate to these records.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Barbieri, F., Bizouard, H., Clocchiatti, R., Metrich, N., Santacroce, R. & Sbrana, A. Bull volcanol. 44, 295–315 (1981).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Sigurdsson, H., Carey, S., Cornell, W. & Pescatore, T. Nat. Geol. Res. 1, 332–387 (1985).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Carey, S. & Sigurdsson, H. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 99, 303–314 (1987).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Carey, S. & Sigurdsson, H. Bull. volcanol. 51, 28–40 (1989).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Rampino, M. R. & Self, S. Quat. Res. 18, 127–143 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Rampino, M. R., Stothers, R. B. & Self, S. Nature 313, 272 (1985).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Devine, J. D., Sigurdsson, H., Davis, A. N. & Self, S. J. geophys. Res. 89, 6309–6325 (1984).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Lirer, L., Pescatore, T., Booth, B. & Walker, G. P. L. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 84, 759–772 (1973).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Alessio, M., Bella, F., Improta, S., Belluomini, G., Cortesi, C. & Turi, B. Radiocarbon 13, 395–411 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Alessio, M. et al. Radiocarbon 16, 358–367 (1974).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Delibrias, G., Guillier, M.-T. & Labeyrie, J. Radiocarbon 28, 9–68 (1987).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    LaMarche, V. C. Jr. & Hirschboeck, K. K. Nature 307, 121–126 (1984).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Baillie, M. G. L. & Munro, M. A. R. Nature 332, 344–346 (1988).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Hammer, C. U., Clausen, H. B., Friedrich, W. L. & Tauber, H. Nature 328, 517–519 (1987).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Geyh, M. A. & Roeschmann, G. Radiocarbon 25, 409–416 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Delibrias, G., DiPaola, G. M., Rosi, M. & Santacroce, R. R. Soc. Ital. Miner. Petrol. 35, 411–438 (1979).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Radice, B. (ed.) The Letters of the Younger Pliny (Penguin, New York, 1983).

  18. 18

    Sakai, C., Sakagami, K., Hamada, R. and Kurobe, T. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. 28, 37–48 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Vogel, J. S., Nelson, D. E. & Southon, J. R. Radiocarbon 31, 145–149 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Campbell, C. A., Paul, E. A., Rennie, D. A. & McCallum, K. J. Soil Sci. 104, 217–224 (1967).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Goh, K. M., Stout, J. D. & O'Brien, B. J. N.Z. J. Sci. 27, 69–72 (1984).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Trumbore, S., Vogel, J. S. & Southon, J. Radiocarbon (in the press).

  23. 23

    Campbell, C. A., Paul, E. A., Rennie, D. A. & McCallum, K. J. Soil Sci. 104, 81–85 (1967).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Stuiver, M. & Reimer, P. J. Radiocarbon 28, 1022–1030 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Albore Livadie, C. Atti Acc. Naz. Lin. Not. S. Ant. 8, 59–101 (1981).

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Santacroce, R. J. Volcanol. geotherm. Res. 17, 237–248 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Mullineaux, D. R., Hyde, J. H. & Rubin, M. J. Res. US geol. Surv. 3, 329–335 (1975).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Simkin, T., Siebert, L., McClelland, L., Bridge, D., Newhall, C. & Latter, J. H. Volcanoes of the World (Hutchinson, Stroudsbourg, 1981).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Luckman, B. H., Kearney, M. S., King, R. H. & Beaudoin, A. B. Can J. Earth Sci. 23, 734–736 (1986).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Hoblitt, R. P., Crandell, D. R. & Mullineaux, D. R. Geology 8, 555–559 (1980).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Miller, T. P. & Smith, R. L. Geology 15, 434–438 (1987).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Cadogan, G. Nature 328, 473 (1987).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Manning, S. W. Nature 332, 401 (1988).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Hammer, C. U., Clausen, H. B., Friedrich, W. L. & Tauber, H. Nature 332, 401 (1988).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Pyle, D. M. Archaeometry 31, 88–91 (1989).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Sigurdsson, H., Devine, J. D. & Davis, A. N. Jökull 35, 1–8 (1985).

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Cornell, W. thesis, University of Rhode Island (1987).

  38. 38

    Peteet, D. M., Vogel, J. S., Nelson, D. E., Southon, J. R., Nickman, R. J. & Heusser, L. E. Quat. Res. (in the press).

  39. 39

    Brown, T. A., Nelson, D. E., Mathewes, R. W., Vogel, J. S. & Southon, J. R. Quat. Res. 32, 205–212 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Stuiver, M. & Polach, H. Radiocarbon 19, 355–363 (1977).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Stuiver, M. & Pearson, G. W. Radiocarbon 28, 805–838 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    King, R. H. Correlation of Quaternary Chronologies (ed. Mahaney, W. C.) 243–258 (Geobooks, Norwich, 1984).

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Zoltai, S. C. Can. J. Earth Sci. 26, 207–214 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Westgate, J. A. Can. J. Earth Sci. 14, 2593–2600 (1977).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Fulton, R. J. Geol. Surv. Can. Pap. 71-37, 19–21 (1971).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vogel, J., Cornell, W., Nelson, D. et al. Vesuvius/Avellino, one possible source of seventeenth century BC climatic disturbances. Nature 344, 534–537 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1038/344534a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing