Toba eruption ash on campus?

The Toba eruption, which occurred about 74,000 years ago, at the site of Lake Toba on Sumatra, Indonesia, spread its ash over wide areas in Southeast Asia and is an important marker horizon in many paleo archives.

Caroline Bouvier, one of the researchers at the Earth Observatory, just found a several meters thick ash layer in a construction pit on campus. To be sure that the ash really derives from the Toba eruption, she took samples for further analyses and dating. It will be really interesting to see if the ash can be attributed to the Toba mega eruption or if it is much younger. The 1-2 m thick ash layer in the construction pit could clearly be seen based on its whitish color, which distinguished from the upper and lower layers.

Wikipedia has quite some information about the Toba eruption, in case someone wants to read up. However there are a number of really big mistakes in the text, such as for example that the eruption coincided with the start of the last glacial period. This is not correct, since the last glacial period started much earlier, around 115,000 years ago.

I would have liked to crawl around and study the sections much more, and especially the layers under- and overlying the ash. But we were not allowed to do that, because the people on the site told us that this would be too dangerous. Not sure if they ever saw risky geologists in action? But since it was so hot and humid, I did not insist too much and instead ended the small excursion with a coffee in a cool, air-conditioned place!












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4 Responses to Toba eruption ash on campus?

  1. Great photos πŸ™‚ And typical geologist, wanting to crawl all around the worksite looking at the rocks! Love It! πŸ™‚

  2. Looks great – would be very interesting to see this confirmed as Toba!

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