Volcanic eruption eye-witnessed and recorded by prehistoric humans

ULUSOY İ., Sarıkaya M. A., Schmitt A. K., ŞEN E., Danisik M., GÜMÜŞ E.

QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, vol.212, pp.187-198, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 212
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.03.030
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.187-198
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Human footprints in hydrovolcanic ash near cakallar volcano (Kula, Western Turkey) were discovered in 1968. A nearby pictograph interpreted as depicting cakallar volcano would define it as the oldest site where humans demonstrably eye-witnessed a volcanic eruption and possibly artistically recorded it. Despite cakallar's volcanological and cultural importance, its eruption age has remained controversial. Here, two independent dating methods, cosmogenic Cl-36 and combined U-Pb and (U-Th)/He zircon (ZDD) geochronology, yielded the first internally consistent eruption ages controlled by detailed volcanostratigraphic mapping. Concordant Cl-36 ages of 4.7 +/- 0.6 ka (errors 1 sigma) were obtained for a cone-breaching lava flow. ZDD ages for crustal xenoliths from scoria deposits directly overlying the footprints yielded an age of 4.7 +/- 0.7 ka. This firmly places the cakallar eruption and prehistoric human footprints, and plausibly the rock art, into the Bronze Age, reinforcing the notion that prehistoric artwork recorded natural events. (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.