The timing and widespread effects of the largest Holocene volcanic eruption in Antarctica

Antoniades D., Giralt S., Geyer A., Álvarez-Valero A.M., Pla-Rabes S., Granados I., Liu E.J., Toro M., Smellie J.L., Oliva M. (2018) The timing and widespread effects of the largest Holocene volcanic eruption in Antarctica. Scientific Reports. 8: 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35460-x

Abstract:

The caldera collapse of Deception Island Volcano, Antarctica, was comparable in scale to some of the largest eruptions on Earth over the last several millennia. Despite its magnitude and potential for far-reaching environmental effects, the age of this event has never been established, with estimates ranging from the late Pleistocene to 3370 years before present. Here we analyse nearby lake sediments in which we identify a singular event produced by Deception Island’s caldera collapse that occurred 3980 ± 125 calibrated years before present. The erupted tephra record the distinct geochemical composition of ejecta from the caldera-forming eruption, whilst an extreme seismic episode is recorded by lake sediments immediately overlying the collapse tephra. The newly constrained caldera collapse is now the largest volcanic eruption confirmed in Antarctica during the Holocene. An examination of palaeorecords reveals evidence in marine and lacustrine sediments for contemporaneous seismicity around the Antarctic Peninsula; synchronous glaciochemical volcanic signatures also record the eruption in ice cores spread around Antarctica, reaching >4600 km from source. The widespread footprint suggests that this eruption would have had significant climatic and ecological effects across a vast area of the south polar region. © 2018, The Author(s).

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Revisiting the role of high-energy Pacific events in the environmental and cultural history of Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Margalef O., Álvarez-Gómez J.A., Pla-Rabes S., Cañellas-Boltà N., Rull V., Sáez A., Geyer A., Peñuelas J., Sardans J., Giralt S. (2018) Revisiting the role of high-energy Pacific events in the environmental and cultural history of Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Geographical Journal. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/geoj.12253

Abstract:

Pacific islands are spread over thousands of kilometres of the Pacific Basin and are characterised by similar ecological features but very diverse geologic origins, from steep volcanoes to flat coral atolls. Several climatic phases have been shared across the region within the last 1,000 years. Numerous and abrupt societal and cultural changes during the same period have been described for islands separated by thousands of kilometres. Conspicuous societal changes have been exclusively attributed to the main climatic patterns (changes in precipitation and temperature). The possible role of tsunamis and the occurrence of large volcanic eruptions as regional societal modulators, however, have traditionally received little attention from archaeologists, mainly due to the difficulty of recognising them in the sedimentary and geomorphological records. We explore the potential influence of the most important high-energy events in the Pacific on Polynesian societal changes, with a special focus on Easter Island. For example, the extreme Samalas eruption in AD 1257 may have been an indirect driver of the sudden population decline, land degradation and decreased food resources on many Pacific islands between AD 1250 and 1300, and the Kuwae eruption in AD 1450 may have triggered the synchronous end of long voyaging expeditions across the Pacific. Important palaeo-tsunamis have had unquestionable impacts on coastal and seafaring societies. A direct effect of the main eruptions of the last millennia (AD 1257 and 1453) on Easter Island has not yet been identified by any record, but we have calculated the likelihood of destructive tsunamis with an estimated period of recurrence for large events of less than a century. This insight is new and needs to be taken into account to complement what we already know about Easter Island's cultural history and archaeological sites, especially those in vulnerable coastal locations. © 2018 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

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Diatom species variation between lake habitats: implications for interpretation of paleolimnological records

Pla-Rabés S., Catalan J. (2018) Diatom species variation between lake habitats: implications for interpretation of paleolimnological records. Journal of Paleolimnology. 60: 169-187.
Link
Doi: 10.1007/s10933-018-0017-0

Abstract:

A sample of a sediment record contains diatom species that have grown in disparate habitats and eventually accumulated in a deep part of the lake. The original habitats may differ in substrate, depth location, and availability of resources. Identifying the species characteristic of each habitat should improve our ecological and environmental interpretation of the sediment record by distinguishing habitat specific responses. With this aim, we studied the benthic diatom communities of a deep oligotrophic lake across several habitats. The main source of variation in the diatom composition was the substrate type; particularly, sediment biofilms. Depth was the second factor. The thermocline defined a shift in diatom communities that also included changes in the dominant lifeforms. A third factor was the mesoscale heterogeneity (i.e., rock sides). Although most species were present in many habitats, characteristic species were identified for all the main habitats and used for an improved interpretation of the deep sediment record. Appropriate standardization showed increasing species richness and diversity from epilimnetic epilithic samples to hypolimnetic sediment samples. We estimate that more than 5000 valve counts are required for appropriate comparisons. Consequently, in sediment records with lower counts per sample, one has to amalgamate samples—losing temporal resolution—to achieve reliable analyses of diversity changes over time. Deep sediment samples are representative of the gamma-diversity of the lake diatom metacommunity, which result from the local alpha diversity of the habitats and the beta-diversity of the variability in composition among them. This double source of diversity has to be taken into account when using the sediment record for estimating lake biodiversity changes. On the other hand, we show that an estimation of the spatial (habitat) heterogeneity of a reconstructed environmental variable can be achieved using subsets of species characteristic of each habitat. We demonstrate the procedure by reconstructing the pH fluctuations during the last 200 years in several habitats from a single sediment record. The results are coherent with the expected differences between predominantly trophogenic or tropholithic habitats. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.

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The role of climate: 71 ka of atmospheric mercury deposition in the southern hemisphere recorded by Rano Aroi Mire, Easter Island (Chile)

Pérez-Rodríguez M., Margalef O., Corella J.P., Saiz-Lopez A., Pla-Rabes S., Giralt S., Cortizas A.M. (2018) The role of climate: 71 ka of atmospheric mercury deposition in the southern hemisphere recorded by Rano Aroi Mire, Easter Island (Chile). Geosciences (Switzerland). 8: 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.3390/geosciences8100374

Abstract:

The study of mercury accumulation in peat cores provides an excellent opportunity to improve the knowledge on mercury cycling and depositional processes at remote locations far from pollution sources. We analyzed mercury concentrations in 150 peat samples from two cores from Rano Aroi (Easter Island, 27◦ S) and in selected vegetation samples of present-day flora of the island, in order to characterize the mercury cycling for the last ~71 ka BP. The mercury concentrations showed values ranging between 35 and 200 ng g−1, except for a large maxima (~1000 ng g−1) which occurred at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ~20 ka cal BP) in both peat cores. Low temperatures during the LGM would accelerate the atmospheric oxidation of Hg(0) to divalent mercury that, coupled with higher rainfall during this period, most likely resulted in a very efficient surface deposition of atmospheric mercury. Two exceptional short-lived Hg peaks occurred during the Holocene at 8.5 (350 ng g−1) and 4.7 (1000 ng g−1) ka cal BP. These values are higher than those recorded in most peat records belonging to the industrial period, highlighting that natural factors played a significant role in Hg accumulation—sometimes even more so than anthropogenic sources. Our results suggest that wet deposition, linked to atmospheric oxidation, was the main process controlling the short-lived Hg events, both in the mire and in the catchment soils. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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