Departmental Bulletin Paper Cuándo y Cómo Fue la Erupción del Volcán Ilopango, El Salvador: Síntesis desde la Óptica Arqueológica


12pp.23 - 43 , 2016-03 , School of Letters, Nagoya University
This paper presents a comprehensive review of discussions on the last Plinian eruption of the Ilopango caldera in central El Salvador, one of the largest Holocene volcanic events in Central America. After the eruption, a large volume of tephra, known as the Tierra Blanca Joven (TBJ), covered most of El Salvador. Therefore, archeological reports dating from the early twentieth century to today consider the TBJ tephra an important time marker and recognize the event as a trigger of large-scale demographic change and collapse in the region. Nevertheless, due to recent discoveries, the date of the eruption and its impact are under debate. In this paper, I carefully review the suggested archeological dates and indicate several problems in determining the correct one, and I propose some directions for future study of the Ilopango caldera’s gigantic eruption. Furthermore, I argue that we must carefully verify the radiocarbon dates and its archeological contexts. Additionally, in discussing the impact of the eruption, we should consider its differential effects depending on settlement pattern, distance from the caldera, social complexity, and other factors.

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