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... And the ancient volcano Thera.

. . . and the ancient volcano Thera

Radioactive emissions from nuclear testing and accidents are not the only events that create geological reference markers. By ejecting ash and debris into the atmosphere, volcanoes also leave their mark. The violent eruption of the Aegean island of Thera (or Santorini) about 3,500 years ago left an important legacy not only for geologists but for archaeologists as well, because it buried a number of developing Bronze Age settlements on the island and is thought to have wiped out the Minoan civilization on Crete, to the south.

Unfortunately, although Thera's debris long ago settled to ground, the exact date of its eruption remains up in the air. By comparing Thera's cultural development with that found elsewhere, most archaeologists have placed the eruption at about 1500 B.C., whereas radiocarbon dating of shrubs and other objects suggests dates more than 100 years older. In the Aug. 6 NATURE, Danish researchers present the results of yet another method, which produced dates slightly older than the radiocarbon studies. C.U. Hammer at the University of Copenhagen and colleagues searched for acidity peaks in South Greenland ice cores. They found one layer containing high levels of sulfuric acid (which is formed from volcanic sulfur dioxide), and by counting seasonal variations in snow deposits, they conclude that Thera erupted in 1645 B.C.
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Title Annotation:measurement of acidity in ice cores used to date volcanic eruption
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 22, 1987
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