Volcanic eruption eye-witnessed and recorded by prehistoric humans

İnan Ulusoy*, M. Akif Sarıkaya, Axel K. Schmitt, Erdal Şen, Martin Danišík, Erdal Gümüş

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Human footprints in hydrovolcanic ash near Çakallar volcano (Kula, Western Turkey) were discovered in 1968. A nearby pictograph interpreted as depicting Çakallar volcano would define it as the oldest site where humans demonstrably eye-witnessed a volca̶nic eruption and possibly artistically recorded it. Despite Çakallar's volcanological and cultural importance, its eruption age has remained controversial. Here, two independent dating methods, cosmogenic 36Cl and combined U-Pb and (U-Th)/He zircon (ZDD) geochronology, yielded the first internally consistent eruption ages controlled by detailed volcanostratigraphic mapping. Concordant 36Cl ages of 4.7 ± 0.6 ka (errors 1σ) 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 Çakallar eruption and prehistoric human footprints, and plausibly the rock art, into the Bronze Age, reinforcing the notion that prehistoric artwork recorded natural events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


Authors acknowledge L. Akın for her help in zircon separation. We would like to thank E. Çubukçu for his constructive remarks and contribution to the fieldwork. We thank E. Aydın who was involved in 3D modelling of the footprint. Kula Geopark personnel Y. Karakuzu and A. Karataş are thanked for their contribution to fieldwork. R. Hetzel kindly provided a sand sample for detrital zircon extraction. An anonymous reviewer and S. Niedermann are thanked for their valuable reviews, and Janet C. Harvey and A.M.C. Şengör for their comments on an earlier version. Authors thank C. May and C. Scadding for solution ICP-MS analyses, and I. Dunkl for sharing PepiFLEX software for ICP-MS data reduction. M.D. was supported by the AuScope NCRIS2 program , Australian Scientific Instruments Pty Ltd ., Australian Research Council (ARC)Discovery funding scheme ( DP160102427 ) and Curtin Research Fellowship . Surface exposure dating of basalt samples was funded by Hacettepe University , Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit , Project no: FDS-2016-9590 . The ion microprobe facility at UCLA is partly supported by a grant from the Instrumentation and Facilities Program , Division of Earth Sciences , National Science Foundation . The HIP facility at Heidelberg University is operated under the auspices of the DFG Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology program .

FundersFunder number
Australian Scientific Instruments Pty Ltd
National Science Foundation
Division of Earth Sciences
University of California, Los Angeles
Australian Research CouncilDP160102427
Hacettepe ÜniversitesiFDS-2016-9590


    • Anatolia
    • Human footprints
    • Petrographs
    • Rock painting
    • Salihli
    • UNESCO global geopark
    • Western Turkey


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