Quantifying gas emissions from the 946 CE Millennium Eruption of Paektu volcano, Democratic People's Republic of Korea/China

Science Advances
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Abstract

Paektu volcano (Changbaishan) is a rhyolitic caldera that straddles the border between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and China. Its most recent large eruption was the Millennium Eruption (ME; 23 km3 DRE) circa 946 CE, which resulted in the release of copious magmatic volatiles (H2O, CO2, sulfur, and halogens). Accurate quantification of volatile yield and composition is critical in assessing volcanogenic climate impacts but is elusive, particularly for pre-historic or unmonitored eruptions. Here we employ a geochemical technique to quantify volatile composition and yield from the ME by examining trends in incompatible trace and volatile element concentrations in crystal-hosted melt inclusions. We estimate a maximum of 45 Tg S was injected into the stratosphere during the ME. If true yields are close to this maximum, this equates to more than 1.5 times the S released during the 1815 eruption of Tambora, which contributed to the "Year Without a Summer". Our maximum gas yield estimates place the ME among the strongest emitters of climate forcing gases in recorded human history in stark contrast to ice core records that indicate minimal atmospheric sulfate loading after the eruption. We conclude that the potential lack of strong climate forcing occurred in spite of the substantial S yield and suggest that other factors predominated in minimizing climatic effects. This paradoxical case in which high S emissions do not result in substantial climate forcing may present a way forward in building more generalized models for predicting which volcanic eruptions will produce large climate impacts.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Quantifying gas emissions from the 946 CE Millennium Eruption of Paektu volcano, Democratic People's Republic of Korea/China
Series title Science Advances
DOI 10.1126/sciadv.1600913
Volume 2
Issue 11
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 1
Last page 11
Country China, Korea
Other Geospatial Paektu volcano