One of the most important pieces of research in the Antarctic has been the analysis of ice cores which has enabled scientists to piece together the past 2,000 years, and in particular, the number of large volcanic eruptions, via the presence of sulphate dust.
This is from an article by Steve Connor in the i newspaper:
“the time series from 26 separate ice cores drilled at from 19 sites shows that 116 volcanic eruptions in the past two millenia were big enough for plumes of volcanic sulphate dust to reach the South Pole.
The largest was a mystery eruption in 1257, hinted at in medieval chronicles and tree rings but not located until scientists identified the source of sulphate deposits as the Samalas volcano in Indonesia.
the third biggest eruption… was also in Indonesia: Tambora exploded in 1815 and famously caused the “year without summer” in 1816 as volcanic dust in the atmosphere cut out sunlight and lowered summer temperatures around the world.
Antarctic deposits point to the 1458 exlosion of the Kuwae caldera near the Pacific island of Vanuatu as the second largest eruption.
“Our new record completes the period from years 1 to 500 AD, for which there were no reconstructins,2 said Michael Desigle of the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, the lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“Among the 10 biggest volcanic eruptions were 3 that occured in 531, 566 and 674, during the Dark Ages.
so far, none of these volcanoes have been identified.
The most famous eruption within the top 10, however, was the 3rd biggest in terms of sulphate deposits, which resulted from the eruption of Tambora on the Indonesian island of Sumbwa in 1815.
This was the largest ever recorded, ranking “super-collossal” on the volcanic explosivity index… The explosion wass heard 1,200 miles away and killed an estimated 71,000 people.”