EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Using X-ray densitometry of carbonized wood to refine the date of past volcanic eruptions

Frederick Reinig1,2, Giulia Guidobaldi2, Daniel Nievergelt2, Anne Verstege2, Fritz Schweingruber2, Alan Crivellaro3, Lukas Wacker4, Jan Esper1, and Ulf Büntgen2,3,5
Frederick Reinig et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Dendroecology, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 4ETH Zurich, Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 5Czech Globe, Global Change Research Institute CAS and Masaryk University, Brno, Czech

Trees that were killed and buried by volcanic eruptions can be used to date an eruption with annual or even sub-annual resolution. The detection and measurement of subfossil tree-ring widths (TRW), however, often remains challenging if the material was carbonized during the eruption. Here, we show that the application of X-ray densitometry can improve the assessment of charcoal. Measuring the wood density of carbonized trees killed by the Laacher See Eruption ~13,000 years ago, facilitates the identification of the outermost rings that were formed just before the eruption. Our results suggest that anatomical techniques should be routinely applied in the assessment of historical, archaeological and subfossil wood.

How to cite: Reinig, F., Guidobaldi, G., Nievergelt, D., Verstege, A., Schweingruber, F., Crivellaro, A., Wacker, L., Esper, J., and Büntgen, U.: Using X-ray densitometry of carbonized wood to refine the date of past volcanic eruptions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10372,, 2020