The source of the largest volcanic eruption recorded in the last 3,700 years has finally been pinpointed. One of the greatest mysteries in history; the nearly 800 year old blast may have been awaiting discovery on an island in Indonesia. The evidence of such a great blast has been found, but the source has never been located; until now.
Samalas volcano, located on Lombok Island in Indonesia, reportedly holds the key to solving the mystery that shook the world from North Pole to South Pole. Geographer Frank Lavigne and his team of researchers have now found evidence that seems to date the phenomenon between May and October of 1257. These new findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on September 30 of this year.
The great mystery that has surrounded this volcano for the last 800 years was an inability to locate the source. Far greater than the enormous 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which destroyed most of that Indonesian island, the Samalas volcano was so large it left deposits on ice in both the northern and southern ice fields of the ice cores.
Lavigne’s team of researchers combined data from all studies, including the ice deposits, with new sample evidence from many possible volcanic sites. Members of the geographic team traveled to Lombok Island to perform research that is even more intensive. They took soil and rock samples as well as tree ring samples. The team studied the Babad Lombok, a book written by the inhabitants of the volcanic area at the time of eruption. The research team discovered that the samples of the polar ice closely resembled samples of the volcanic island and that the time-line concluded by the tree ring evidence closely matched the timeline estimated by studying the ash in ice samples. Using the Babad Lombok and early European texts as a guide, Lavigne’s team was also able to gauge changes to the island at the time of the eruption and a noted bad weather change in 1258.
Lavigne and his team were able to link all of the information discovered from the various research done throughout the years to provide a compelling argument that the Samalas volcano is the most likely source of this 800 year old mystery. In their studies, they were also able to establish a better estimation of how tremendous the eruption was; even suggesting it could be the largest in 10,000 years. Data collected suggests that 40 cubic kilometers of rubble and wreckage was likely discharged into the atmosphere and that the cloud of debris likely reached 40 kilometers into the sky. The impact of this eruption was enough to affect the weather of the entire planet for over a year. Through the team’s exhaustive work in finding the source of this great explosion, some now suggest it could have even been what led to the Little Ice Age.
Written by: Amy Magness Whatley