Study Firms Up Tree Ring Timeline, Offers New Lead On Ancient Eruption

Published: Monday, April 6, 2020 - 5:05am
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Peter Brewer.
Ancient juniper tree-rings from Gordion, Turkey.
Charlotte Pearson.
The ancient juniper trees that make up the walls of a tomb in the "Midas Mound Tumulus" in Gordion, Turkey were essential to dialing in the dates..

Tree rings provide a useful way to study past climates and date specific events or objects, but some eras remain fuzzy.

Now, researchers from University of Arizona have developed a way to sharpen our picture of a key volcanic eruption.

To dial in when the island of Thera, also known as Santorini, erupted, and to firm up a vague period in the tree ring record, lead author Charlotte Pearson and colleagues used a combination of new pattern matching techniques.

The result was a year-by-year record covering more than two millennia of the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze and Iron Ages.

The study in the journal PNAS also describes a chemical marker that could pin Thera's eruption to 1560 BCE, though further research is needed.

Such a marker would also provide a useful marker for synchronizing other records in the region.

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