Hekla 3 eruption

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Hekla 3 eruption
DateCirca 1000 BC
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
ImpactCaused 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.[2] It threw about 7.3 km3 of volcanic rock into the atmosphere, placing its Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) at 5. This would have caused a volcanic winter, cooling temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for several years afterwards.

An eighteen-year span of global cooling that is recorded in Irish bog oaks 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. Andy Baker's team of researchers dated it to 1021 BC ±130.[5]

A "high chronology" (earlier) interpretation of the above results is preferred by Baker, based also on growth of stalagmites. In Sutherland, northwest Scotland, a spurt of four years of doubled annual luminescent growth banding of calcite in a stalagmite is datable to 1135 BC ±130.[6]

A rival, "low-chronology" interpretation of the eruption has been made by Andrew 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 (probably 2310 BC ±20) 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 have firmly dated the eruption to 1159 BC, and blamed it for famines under Ramesses III during the wider Bronze Age collapse.[10] Dugmore has rebutted this dating.[11] Other scholars have held off on this dispute, preferring the neutral and vague "3000 BP".[12]


  1. ^ "Hekla". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.
  2. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 2012-12-17.
  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. S2CID 130396931.
  6. ^ Dated by uranium-thorium thermal ionization mass spectrometry to 1135 BC ±130 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. S2CID 130396931.
  7. ^ Dugmore, AJ; G. T. Cook, J. S. Shore, A. J. Newton, K. J. Edwards and Guðrún Larsen (1995). "Radiocarbon Dating Tephra Layers in Britain and Iceland". Radiocarbon. 37 (2): 379–388. doi:10.1017/S003382220003085X. Archived from the original on 2008-10-13.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  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 (eds.). Volcanic Hazards and Disasters in Human Antiquity. GSA Special Paper. Vol. 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. Vol. 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 Archived 2009-04-07 at the Wayback Machine, Stefan WastegÅrd, XVI INQUA Congress, Paper No. 41-13, Saturday, July 26, 2003.