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Platinum is key in ancient volcanic related climate change

Picture of platinum

Supervolcanoes are one of Mother Nature’s deadliest phenomena, and when they erupt, they can change the climate of the entire planet.

To get a glimpse for how future catastrophic volcanic events might alter our lives, scientists at the University of Cincinnati dug deep into the past to find new evidence for volcanic related climate change.

The results of the study are published in the July issue of Scientific Reports titled “Positive platinum anomalies at three late holocene high magnitude volcanic events in Western Hemisphere sediments.”

“The age of the sediment containing the platinum allowed our interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, geologists, geographers and biologists to directly pinpoint radical change in climate for eight different Western hemisphere archeological sites to three major catastrophic volcanoes from the beginning of the little ice age and Medieval Warming. The most recent dated to the 18th-century.”

Why is this important? Tankersley and the researchers hope studies like this can help the world better prepare for the next major eruption. As he says, “It’s not ‘if’ these catastrophic volcanic events will return, it’s ‘when.’”

“Can you imagine a year or even a decade with no summer?” asks Tankersley. “This happened consistently throughout the past 10,000 years.”

For example, Tankersley explains the Eldgjá eruption of (CE 934) as producing so much dust in the atmosphere, it filtered enough sun and heat to lower global temperatures significantly for a couple of years. What ensued were severe winters contributing to famine, epidemics, and loss of many lives. Over 900 years later a volcanic event on the Pacific island of Krakatoa caused Cincinnati to have an extremely cold winter and a very cool summer in the late 1800s.

Not all explosive volcanic eruptions result in the global distribution of particle spread, such as the most recent Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. However, Tankersley notes, there is a definite link between significant changes in climate conditions outside regular climate cycles and the high magnitude volcanic events explored in this research.

Platinum is key in ancient volcanic related climate change

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