Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not Atlantis, but they're working on it

When you think of lost civilizations you don't readily think of Rhode Island. That's why this article, filed from Narragansett, caught my attention.

Then I read a little further. The actual digging is going on in Indonesia, which makes much more sense, as the Atlantic is not known for its volcanos.* The diggers, however, are led by a gentleman in the employ of URI, with the delightful name of Haraldur Sigurdsson.

Guided by ground-penetrating radar, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Indonesian Directorate of Volcanology recently dug in a gully where locals had found ceramics and bones. They unearthed the remains of a thatch house, pottery, bronze and the carbonized bones of two people, all in a layer of sediment dating to the eruption.

That's just wicked cool.

The eruption shot 400 million tons (363 million metric tons) of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere, causing global cooling and creating what historians call "The Year Without a Summer." Farms in Maine suffered crop-killing frosts in June, July and August. In France and Germany, grape and corn crops died, or the harvests were delayed.

Mind you, this took place at Mount Tambora in Indonesia,** about 9900 miles away from Bangor, Maine - over the North Pole. (Paris is a relatively-short 7800 miles or so north-westward.)***

Dr. Sigurdsson has been at this for a while (note the date of this); no word whether he will continue his researches in the ruined plains of Osgiliath now that Barad-Dur has been overthrown.

* The good doctor is a native of Iceland, which in fact IS volcanic. The mental image of a frigid volcanic island reminds me that, as fun as fiction is, the real Earth is often strange enough.

** This website provided the Tambora info. It, too, is quite the bomb diggity.

*** Distances were calculated with this dandy web tool. Thanks, folks!

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