Hekla 3 eruption

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Hekla 3 eruption
Volcano Hekla
Date Circa 1000 BC
Type Plinian
Location Iceland
63°59′N 19°42′W / 63.983°N 19.700°W / 63.983; -19.700Coordinates: 63°59′N 19°42′W / 63.983°N 19.700°W / 63.983; -19.700
Impact Caused worldwide temperatures to drop for 18 years
Hekla is located in Iceland
Hekla on the map of Iceland

The Hekla 3 eruption (H-3) circa 1000 BC is considered the most severe eruption of Hekla during the Holocene.[1] It threw about 7.3 km3 of volcanic rock into the atmosphere,[2] placing its Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) at 5. This would have cooled temperatures in the northern parts of the globe for several years afterwards.

An eighteen-year span of global cooling is recorded in Irish bog oaks that has been attributed to H-3.[3][4]

The eruption is detectable in Greenland ice-cores, the bristlecone pine sequence, and the Irish oak sequence of extremely narrow growth rings. Baker's team dated it to 1021+130

Baker preferred a "high chronology" (earlier) interpretation of these results. In Sutherland, northwest Scotland, a spurt of four years of doubled annual luminescent growth banding of calcite in a stalagmite is datable to 1135 ± 130 BC.[6] A rival, "low-chronology" interpretation of the eruption comes from Dugmore, 2879 BP = 929 BC ± 34.[7]

In 1999, Dugmore suggested a non-volcanic explanation for the Scottish results.[8] In 2000 skepticism concerning conclusions about connecting Hekla 3 and Hekla 4 eruptions with paleoenvironmental events and archaeologically attested abandonment of settlement sites in northern Scotland was expressed by John P. Grattan and David D. Gilbertson.[9]

Some Egyptologists in 1999 firmly dated the eruption to 1159 BC and blamed it for famines under Ramesses III during the wider Bronze Age collapse.[10] Dugmore dismissed this notion and maintains his dating to this day.[11] Other scholars have held off on this dispute, preferring the neutral and vague "3000 BP".[12]


  1. ^ Eiríksson, Jón et al. (2000). "Chronology of late Holocene climatic events in the northern North Atlantic based on AMS 14C dates and tephra markers from the volcano Hekla, Iceland". Journal of Quaternary Science 15 (6): 573–580. Bibcode:2000JQS....15..573E. doi:10.1002/1099-1417(200009)15:6<573::AID-JQS554>3.0.CO;2-A. 
  2. ^ "Hekla". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. 
  3. ^ Baillie, Mike (1989). "Hekla 3: how big was it?". Endeavour. New series 13 (2): 78–81. doi:10.1016/0160-9327(89)90006-9. 
  4. ^ Baillie, Mike (1989). "Do Irish bog oaks date the Shang dynasty?". Current archaeology 10: 310–313. 
  5. ^ Baker, Andy et al. (1995). "The Hekla 3 volcanic eruption recorded in a Scottish speleothem?". The Holocene 5 (3): 336–342. doi:10.1177/095968369500500309. 
  6. ^ Dated by uranium-thorium thermal ionization mass spectrometry to 1135 ± 130 BC in Baker, Andy et al. (1995). "The Hekla 3 volcanic eruption recorded in a Scottish speleothem?". The Holocene 5 (3): 336–342. doi:10.1177/095968369500500309. 
  7. ^ Dugmore, AJ; G. T. Cook, J. S. Shore, A. J. Newton, K. J. Edwards and Gu�r�n Larsen (1995). "Radiocarbon Dating Tephra Layers in Britain and Iceland". Radiocarbon 37 (2). 
  8. ^ Andrew Dugmore, Geriant Coles, Paul Buckland, "A Scottish speleothem record of the H-3 eruption or human impact? A comment on Baker, Smart, Barnes, Edwards and Farrant" The Holocene 9.4 501-503 (1999).
  9. ^ Grattan; Gilbertson (2000). "Prehistoric 'settlement crisis', environmental changes in the British Isles, and volcanic eruptions in Iceland: An explorarion of plausible linkages". In McCoy, Floyd W.; Heiken, Grant. Volcanic Hazards and Disasters in Human Antiquity. GSA Special Paper 345. Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America. ISBN 0-8137-2345-0. 
  10. ^ Yurco, Frank J. (1999). "End of the Late Bronze Age and Other Crisis Periods: A Volcanic Cause". In Teeter, Emily; Larson, John (eds.). Gold of Praise: Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honor of Edward F. Wente. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 58. Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute of the Univ. of Chicago. pp. 456–458. ISBN 1-885923-09-0. 
  11. ^ Late Holocene solifluction history reconstructed using tephrochronology, Martin P. Kirkbride & Andrew J. Dugmore, Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2005; v. 242; p. 145-155.
  12. ^ TOWARDS A HOLOCENE TEPHROCHRONOLOGY FOR SWEDEN, Stefan WastegÅrd, XVI INQUA Congress, Paper No. 41-13, Saturday, July 26, 2003.