Chemical signals in tree rings from northern patagonia as indicators of calbuco volcano eruptions since the 16th century

Lizette J. Bertin, Duncan A. Christie, Paul R. Sheppard, Ariel A. Muñoz, Antonio Lara, Claudio Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Calbuco volcano ranks third in the specific risk classification of volcanoes in Chile and has a detailed eruption record since 1853. During 2015, Calbuco had a sub-Plinian eruption with negative impacts in Chile and Argentina, highlighting the need to determine the long-term history of its activity at a high-resolution time scale to obtain a better understanding of its eruptive frequency. We developed a continuous eruptive record of Calbuco for the 1514–2016 period by dendrochemical analysis of Fitzroya cupressoides tree rings at a biennium resolution using inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry. After comparing the chemical record of 20 elements contained in tree rings with historical eruptions, one group exhibited positive anomalies during (Pb/Sn) and immediately after (Mo/P/Zn/Cu) eruptions, with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) ≥ 3, and so were classified as chemical tracers of past eruptions (TPE). The tree-ring width chronology also exhibited significant decreases in tree growth associated with eruptions of VEI ≥ 3. According to these records, we identified 11 new eruptive events of Calbuco, extending its eruptive chronology back to the 16th century and determining a mean eruptive frequency of ~23 years. Our results show the potential to use dendrochemical analysis to infer past volcanic eruptions in Northern Patagonia. This information provides a long-term perspective for assessing eruptive history in Northern Patagonia, with implications for territorial planning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1305
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Dendrochronology
  • Fitzroya cupressoides
  • Inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry
  • Volcanic eruptions


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