Italian super-eruption larger than thought

Jun 18, 2012

Recent research suggested that the super-eruption of the Campi Flegrei caldera volcano in southern Italy about 40,000 years ago may have played a part in wiping out, or forcing the migration of, the Neanderthal and modern human populations in the eastern Mediterranean regions that were covered in ash.

Now a new modeling study by Costa et al. suggests that this eruption may have been even larger than previously thought. This Campi Flegrei eruption produced a widespread ash layer known as Campanian Ignimbrite (CI). Using ash thickness measurements collected at 115 sites and a three-dimensional ash dispersal model, the authors find that the CI super-eruption would have spread 250-300 cubic kilometers (60-72 cubic miles) of ash across a 3.7-million-square-kilometer (1.4- million-square-mile) region-2 to 3 times previous ash volume estimates.

The updated values stem from a new method of modeling what the wind would have been like during the eruption. Traditionally, models assume a consistent wind field for the entire duration of an eruption. The authors, however, incorporate wind fields into the model that are based on 15 years of recent measurements, using the modern wind field that best accounts for the ash deposit measurements.

On the basis of their updated estimates, the authors calculate that up to 450 million kilograms (990 million pounds) of sulfur dioxide would have been spread into the atmosphere, driving down temperatures by 1-2 degrees Celsius (1.8-3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for 2 to 3 years. Further, and chloride emissions would have triggered acidic rains, and fluorine-laden ash would have become incorporated into , potentially inducing fluorosis, replete with eye, tooth, and , in .

Explore further: Antarctic ice sheet is result of CO2 decrease, not continental breakup

More information: Quantifying volcanic ash dispersal and impact of the Campanian Ignimbrite super-eruption, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2012GL051605, 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Improving forecasts of volcanic ash concentrations

Feb 14, 2012

Volcanic ash can severely damage airplanes, and eruptions such as the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption may result in major disruption to air travel. Improved forecasting of ash cloud locations and concentrations could benefit ...

Volcano billows giant plume for 2nd day in Chile

Jun 06, 2011

(AP) -- A volcano in the Caulle Cordon of southern Chile erupted for a second day Sunday, shooting out pumice stones and pluming a cloud of ash six miles (10 kilometers) high and three miles (five kilometers) ...

Ash shows past eruptions 'underestimated'

May 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A study into ash fallout from the biggest volcanic eruption in almost 20 years has shown that the impact of past eruptions is likely to have been significantly underestimated as so much of ...

Recommended for you

NASA sees zombie Tropical Depression Genevieve reborn

14 hours ago

Infrared imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite helped confirm that the remnant low pressure area of former Tropical Storm Genevieve has become a Zombie storm, and has been reborn as a tropical depression on ...

Wave energy impact on harbour operations investigated

18 hours ago

Infragravity period oscillations—waves that occur between 25 and 300 seconds with a wavelength between 100m and 10km—can have an impact on berthing operations, depending on a harbour's geometry.

User comments : 0