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Sulfur budget and global climate impact of the A.D. 1835 eruption of Cosigüina volcano, Nicaragua

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Large explosive volcanic eruptions can inject massive amounts of sulfuric gases into the Earth's atmosphere and, in so doing, affect global climate. The January 1835 eruption of Cosigüina volcano, Nicaragua, ranks among the Americas' largest and most explosive historical eruptions, but whether it had effects on global climate remains ambiguous. New petrologic analyses of the Cosigüina deposits reveal that the eruption released enough sulfur to explain a prominent circa A.D. 1835 sulfate anomaly in ice cores from both the Arctic and Antarctic. A compilation of temperature‐sensitive tree ring chronologies indicates appreciable cooling of the Earth's surface in response to the eruption, consistent with instrumental temperature records. We conclude that this eruption represents one of the most important sulfur‐producing events of the last few centuries and had a sizable climate impact rivaling that of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The 1835 Cosigüina eruption released large amounts of sulfur to the atmosphereSulfur was partitioned among sulfides, andesite melt, and a fluid phaseTree ring chronologies record global cooling in response to the 1835 eruption
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Keywords: 1835 Cosigüina; climate impact; melt inclusions; sulfur budget; tree rings; volcanic eruption

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 16 October 2014

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