Climatic impact of the Millennium eruption of Changbaishan volcano in China: New insights from high-precision radiocarbon wiggle-match dating

Xu, Jiandong; Pan, Bo; Liu, Tanzhuo; Hajdas, Irka; Zhao, Bo; Yu, Hongmei; Liu, Ruoxin; Zhao, Ping

Changbaishan volcano in northeast China, previously dated to have erupted around the mid-10th century A.D., is renowned for producing one of the largest eruptions in history (magnitude 6.8) and thus speculated to have substantial climatic impact. Here we report a new high-precision 14C wiggle-match age of A.D. 946 ± 3 obtained from a 264 year old tree trunk (with bark) killed during the eruption, using the OxCal's Bayesian modeling approach with 27 sequentially sampled annual rings of decadal intervals. The new chronology conforms well to the calendar date of A.D. 946 for the eruption inferred from historical documentary evidence. We find no stratospherically loaded sulfate spike that might be associated with the A.D. 946 eruption in the global volcanism record from the GISP2 ice core, suggesting the stratospheric sulfate aerosols produced during the eruption were not transported to the arctic region, due probably to its relatively low stratospheric sulfur emission and the seasonal effects of the atmospheric circulation at the time of the eruption that likely occurred in the winter of A.D. 946–947. Since the stratospheric volcanic sulfates are the main cause of large-scale climate perturbations, this finding indicates that the Millennium eruption of Changbaishan volcano might have limited regional climatic effects, rather than global or hemispheric impact as implied by its magnitude.


Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
April 8, 2013