Abstract

Two cores from the southern South China Sea contain discrete ash layers that mainly consist of rhyolithic glass shards. On the basis of the SPECMAP time scale, the ash layers were dated to ca. 74 ka, the age of the youngest Toba eruption in northern Sumatra. This link is supported by the chemical composition of the glass, which is distinct from volcanic glass supplied from the Philippines and the northern South China Sea, but is almost identical with the chemistry of the Toba ash. The youngest Toba ash layers in the South China Sea expand the previously known ash-fall zone over more than 1800 km to the east. The dispersal of ashes from Sumatra in both western and eastern directions indicates two contrasting wind directions and suggests that (1) the Toba eruption probably happened during the Southeast Asian summer monsoon season, and (2) the volume of erupted magma was larger than previously interpreted.

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