Large volcanic eruption in Scotland may have contributed to prehistoric global warming

Large volcanic eruption in Scotland may have contributed to prehistoric global warming
False color electron-microscope image of a resorbed apatite crystal (green) in pitchstone glass (blue). The composition of the pitchstone glass and the characteristic mineral textures are identical in the studied pitchstone sites of the Sgùrr of Eigg and Òigh-sgeir, although over 30km apart, indicating a common origin, and thus a large and geographically widespread volcanic eruption. Credit: Valentin Troll

Around 56 million years ago, global temperatures spiked. Researchers at Uppsala University and in the U.K. now show that a major explosive eruption from the Red Hills on the Isle of Skye may have been a contributing factor to the massive climate disturbance. Their findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Large explosive volcanic eruptions can have lasting effects on climate and have been held responsible for severe climate effects in Earth's history. One such event occurred around 56 million years ago, when increased by five to eight degrees C. This event has been named the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The warm period was associated with in the North Atlantic region, especially in Greenland, the British Isles and the present day North Sea region. However, until now, no large-scale explosive eruptions had been confirmed in Scotland.

A team of researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, the Universities of Durham and St Andrews in the U.K., and the Scottish Environmental Research Centre in Glasgow, now seem to have found a missing piece of the puzzle. By studying called pitchstones from islands more than 30 kilometres apart in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, the researchers found plausible evidence of a major from what is today the Isle of Skye.

The researchers used several methods to compare the pitchstones recovered from the two sites (Sgùrr of Eigg and Òigh-sgeir), including isotope geochemistry. Samples from the two pitchstone outcrops display identical textures and compositions in all analyses, confirming that the two outcrops represent deposits of a single, massive and explosive . The identify the Red Hills on Skye, around 40 kilometres to the north, as the most likely vent area for this large eruption. Using this vent location, a reconstruction estimates the eruption to have been similar in magnitude to the Krakatoa eruption of 1883, one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events in recorded history.

Earth scientists have long thought that the Scottish sector of the North Atlantic Volcanic Province did not see any large explosive eruptions at the time of the PETM. This notion is now contradicted by the findings of the current study and the researchers conclude that large explosive volcanic events in the Scottish sector of the North Atlantic Volcanic Province were likely a major contributing factor to the climate disturbance of the PETM.

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More information: A large explosive silicic eruption in the British Palaeogene Igneous Province, Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-35855-w
Journal information: Scientific Reports

Provided by Uppsala University
Citation: Large volcanic eruption in Scotland may have contributed to prehistoric global warming (2019, January 24) retrieved 19 July 2019 from
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Jan 24, 2019
Yeah, 56 million years ago is certainly "pre-historic".

Let's talk about the Roman and Viking Climate Optimums instead.

Jan 24, 2019
Fake news? Because volcanic activity in "historic" times has had the opposite effect: ash and smoke reduce insolation, which results predictably in lower atmospheric temps globally, such as the "year without a summer" --- 1814 if memory serves. The really interesting question is, how did "prehistoric" volcanoes create a thermal maximum? Methane? CO2? Those so-called greenhouse gasses can't absorb infrared if sunlight is prevented from reaching the Earth's surface in the first place by ash clouds in the upper atmosphere.

Jan 24, 2019
these denierbots are funny little creatures.
shootsitsselfinthefoot, holds up two spectacularly failed societies as exemplary! Both collapsing amidst the dying ecologies that they, themselves destroyed.

annoyingmousie ignores accuracy. Deliberately taking some data out of context.
While pretending all the countervailing evidence does not exist.

Hey, rodent. Half-truths are falsehoods.
Now? Even if you presented corrected information?
No one will believe you.

Oh, the other agencies of russianbots & saudibots will agree with you. But they will never ask you to hold their wallet for them.
& yeah, that might be their real sister they are introducing to you?
Still, invest in good quality condoms.
Once the trust is gone? You are all vermin from the same sewer.

Jan 24, 2019
@shootist lies constantly. He's a dipshit, and the world would be a better place if he fell into an open sewer and asphyxiated.

Jan 24, 2019
shootist repeats the usual denier misinformation about the Medieval Warming Period and Roman times warming. Neither was as warm as today. The MWP was most likely not a global event. And the warming then took place in different places, separated by centuries. Not only did Michael Mann's proxy temperature reconstruction and resulting "hockey stick" graph show that present warming is much more than during the MWP, but so did about two dozen other temperature reconstructions done by other scientists - all resulting in hockey stick graphs.

Jan 24, 2019
Yes, big volcanic eruptions normally cause cooling, but the aerosols that do this are not long lived in the atmosphere- a few years, especially when compared with that of CO2 - hundreds of years. It is generally accepted that the PETM was a result of increased CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans. Ocean acidification from CO2 caused a major die off of marine life. Where all the CO2 came from is not settled science, and noone says this study is definitive.

here is another take on it/
Response of marine ecosystems to the PETM

(PETM; 55.8 million years ago), was a short-lived (~ 200,000 years) global warming event attributed to a rapid rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It was suggested that this warming was initiated by the melting of methane hydrates on the seafloor and permafrost at high latitudes.


Jan 24, 2019
Also of interest is this article concerning the Deccan Traps volcanic activity around the time when dinosaurs went extinct. Maybe more than one cause.

So what did-in the dinosaurs? A murder mystery…


Jan 24, 2019
This is interesting. Lots of coal in Scotland.

Jan 25, 2019
Re the PETM: if the concentration of greenhouse gasses increased due to the melting of methane hydrates and permafrost, what caused those sources of methane to melt in the first place? It seems that while methane and CO2 might contribute to global warming, they may not be driving it during the PETM.

It does seem a little disingenuous to suggest that a localized volcanic event in Scotland had much impact on global warming during the PETM. The headline would be more accurate as "Previously unknown ancient volcanic eruption discovered in Scotland". The global warming tag seems like click bait.

Jan 25, 2019
Too many people want a simple, easy-to-understand, magical explanation they can blame for what ever has their knickers in a twist.

Reality ain't cooperating.
There are a whole bunch of contributing & competing detracting events.
Crashing together in this big old mosh pit of a world.
Many are obscure or masked by other events,

Sigma as perfection?
Not in this Universe!
At best, Sigma is a symbol of what we wish for.

Jan 25, 2019
It does seem a little disingenuous to suggest that a localized volcanic event in Scotland had much impact on global warming during the PETM.

Fortunately, as the article points out, this wasn't an isolated volcanic event, it was a part of a much larger volcanic event throughout the North Atlantic region:
The warm period was associated with volcanic activity in the North Atlantic region, especially in Greenland, the British Isles and the present day North Sea region.

The full paper also discusses that - click on the DOI link to read it. As far as global warming, it's well understood that the PETM was an episode of global warming and that GHG emissions (whether from volcanoes or humans) will result in global warming, so I'm not sure why you're complaining.

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