Volcanic whodunnit: new methods to unravel the source and climate impact of past eruptions

The polar ice cores represent our most detailed archive of large magnitude volcanic eruptions. Yet, for the majority of these eruptions we have no idea where the source volcano was located nor whether its ash and sulfur emissions made it to the stratosphere. This information is critical for understanding the climate and societal impacts of past eruptions. Our group at St Andrews is developing a new isotopic and tephra analytical tool kit to extract this key information from volcano ice core archives. Here, I will talk about a particularly fascinating period at the end of the Little Ice Age, 1800–1850 CE, which is the coldest period in the last 500 years and was marked by cluster of mysterious volcanic events.