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Lowe J., Barton N., Blockley S., Bronk Ramsey C., Cullen V. L., Davies W., Gamble C., Grant K., Hardiman M., Housley R., Lane C.S., Lee S., Lewis M., MacLeod A., Menzies M., Müller W., Pollard M., Price C., Roberts A.P., Rohling E.J., Satow C., Smith V., Stringer C., Tomlinson E.L. White D., Albert P., Arienzo I., Barker G., Carandente A., Civetta L., Farrand W., Ferrier C., Gaudelli J.L., Karkanas P., Koumouzelis M., Muller U.C., Orsi G., Pross J., Rosi M., Shalamanov-Korobar L., Sirakov N., Tzedakis P.C., Borić D. 
 
 

Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early Modern Humans to natural hazards

 
 
(PNAS),109, 34:13532-13537ISSN: 1091-649010.1073/pnas.1204579109.(2012)
 

Abstract

 Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazardsMarked changes in human dispersal and development during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition have been attributed to massive volcanic eruption and/or severe climatic deterioration. We test this concept using records of volcanic ash layers of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption dated to ca. 40,000 y ago (40 ka B.P.).  The distribution of the Campanian Ignimbrite has been enhanced by the discovery of cryptotephra deposits (volcanic ash layers that are not visible to the naked eye) in archaeological cave sequences.  They enable us to synchronize archaeological and paleoclimatic records through the period of transition from Neanderthal to the earliest anatomically modern human populations in Europe. Our results confirm that the combined effects of a major volcanic eruption and severe climatic cooling failed to have lasting impacts on Neanderthals or early modern humans in Europe. We infer that modern humans proved a greater competitive threat to indigenous populations than natural disasters.
 
Fig. 3. (A) Selected major and trace element biplots with delineation of the compositional ranges of pumice matrix glasses from proximal tephra fall and fow units from the CI (gray- envelope) using the same discriminant source. (B) Compositional correlation of the distal tephra fall units from this study with the CI tephra. For comparison on all graphs, the compositional !elds for four well-known Mediterranean volcanic eruptions are also plotted. The Neapolitan Yellow Tuff (NYT) is the second largest known eruption of the CF after the CI tephra. The Codola Tephra from Vesuvius, the Nisyros Island Tephra (Upper Member), and the Pantelleria Green Tuff are all found as far-traveled tephra layers and occurred within ±20 ka of the CI eruption. Representative 2 uncertainty ranges are shown (A, Upper Right and B, Upper Right) for each biplot based on precision established from secondary standard analyses