Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 389–402 | Cite as

Effects of the Hekla 4 tephra on vegetation in Northwest Iceland

  • Sigrún Dögg Eddudóttir
  • Egill Erlendsson
  • Guðrún Gísladóttir
Original Article

Abstract

Vegetation plays a key role in preventing the remobilisation of tephra and aeolian activity following tephra fall. Recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland have highlighted the consequences of tephra fall for ecosystems and human health. Improved understanding of the mechanisms behind ecosystem recovery following tephra fall is particularly important for Iceland. Today ~42% of the country is classified as desert and unvegetated and sparsely vegetated areas are unable to trap tephra fall and prevent subsequent wind erosion. This paper presents palaeoenvironmental reconstructions before and after the Hekla 4 tephra from two lakes in Northwest Iceland, from within a woodland in the lowland, and in open woodland under stress at the highland margin. The c. 4,200 cal bp. Hekla 4 tephra is one of the most extensive Icelandic Holocene tephra layers and the eruption produced an estimated ~9 km3 of tephra. The palaeoecological reconstructions provide an insight into the responses of two relatively stable ecosystems to thick tephra deposits during a period of cooling climate. The understory vegetation in the lowland woodland was buried by the tephra, however Betula pubescens trees were not severely affected and the woodland recovered relatively quickly. In contrast, open woodland at the highland margin that was already at its ecological limit, shifted to dwarf shrub heath, a more resilient vegetation community in response to the tephra fall and cooling climate.

Keywords

Tephra Vegetation Pollen Iceland Hekla Betula pubescens 

References

  1. Antos JA, Zobel DB (2005) Plant responses in forests of the tephra-fall zone. In: Dale VH, Swanson FJ, Crisafulli CM (eds) Ecological responses to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Springer, New York, pp 47–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnalds O (2013) The influence of volcanic tephra (ash) on ecosystems. In: Sparks D (ed) Advances in Agronomy, vol 121. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 332–380Google Scholar
  3. Arnalds O (2015) The soils of Iceland. Springer, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnalds O, Thorarinsdottir EF, Thorsson J, Waldhauserova PD, Agustsdottir AM (2013) An extreme wind erosion event of the fresh Eyjafjallajokull 2010 volcanic ash. Sci Rep 3:1257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arnalds O, Dagsson-Waldhauserova P, Olafsson H (2016) The Icelandic volcanic aeolian environment: Processes and impacts—a review. Aeolian Res 20:176–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bengtsson L, Enell M (1986) Chemical analysis. In: Berglund BE (ed) Handbook of Holocene Palaeoecology and Palaeohydrology. Wiley, Chichester, pp 423–451Google Scholar
  7. Bennett KD (2016) Catalogue of pollen types. Queen’s University of Belfast. http://www.chrono.qub.ac.uk/pollen/pc-intro.html. Accessed 30 April 2016
  8. Berggren G (1969) Atlas of seeds and small fruits of Northwestern-European plant species (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, East Fennoscandia and Iceland) with morphological descriptions. Part 2: Cyperaceae. Swedish Natural Science Research Council, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  9. Birks HJB (1973) Modern pollen studies in some arctic and alpine environments. In: Birks HJB, West RG (eds) Quaternary Plant Ecology. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 143–168Google Scholar
  10. Birks HH (2007) Plant Macrofossils—introduction. In: Elias SA (ed) Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, 2nd edn. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 2,266–2,288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Birks HH, Bjune AE (2010) Can we detect a west Norwegian tree line from modern samples of plant remains and pollen? Results from the DOORMAT project. Veget Hist Archaeobot 19:325–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Björck S, Persson T, Kristersson I (1978) Comparison of two concentration methods for pollen in minerogenic sediments. GFF 100:107–111Google Scholar
  13. Blaauw M (2010) Methods and code for ‘classical’ age-modelling of radiocarbon sequences. Quat Geochronol 5:512–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Blair CL, Geirsdottir A, Miller GH (2015) A high-resolution multi-proxy lake record of Holocene environmental change in southern Iceland. J Quat Sci 30:281–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brady NC, Weil RR (1996) Elements of the nature and properties of soils, 2nd edn. Pearson Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  16. Buckland P, Gerrard A, Larsen G, Perry D, Savory D, Sveinbjarnardóttir G (1986) Late Holocene palaeoecology at Ketilsstadir in Mýrdalur, South Iceland. Jökull 36:41–55Google Scholar
  17. Cappers RTJ, Bekker RM, Jans JEA (2012) Digitale Zadenatlas van Nederland, 2nd edn. Barkhuis & Groningen University Library, GroningenGoogle Scholar
  18. Carey RJ, Houghton BF, Thordarson T (2010) Tephra dispersal and eruption dynamics of wet and dry phases of the 1875 eruption of Askja Volcano, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 72:259–278Google Scholar
  19. Carlsen HK, Gislason T, Benediktsdottir B, Kolbeinsson TB, Hauksdottir A, Thorsteinsson T, Briem H (2012a) A survey of early health effects of the Eyjafjallajökull 2010 eruption in Iceland: a population-based study. BMJ Open 2:e000343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Carlsen HK et al. (2012b) Health effects following the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption: a cohort study. BMJ Open 2:e001851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Caseldine C, Langdon P, Holmes N (2006) Early Holocene climate variability and the timing and extent of the Holocene thermal maximum (HTM) in northern Iceland. Quat Sci Rev 25:2,314–2,331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cutler NA, Bailey RM, Hickson KT, Streeter RT, Dugmore AJ (2016) Vegetation structure influences the retention of airfall tephra in a sub-Arctic landscape. Prog Phys Geogr 40:661–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dearing J (1994) Environmental magnetic susceptibility Using the Bartington MS2 system. Chi Publishing, KenilworthGoogle Scholar
  24. Dugmore AJ, Cook GT, Shore JS, Newton AJ, Edwards KJ, Larsen G (1995) Radiocarbon dating tephra layers in Britain and Iceland. Radiocarbon 37:379–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dugmore AJ et al (2005) The Norse landnám on the North Atlantic islands: an environmental impact assessment. Polar Rec 41:21–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dugmore AJ, Church MJ, Mairs K-A, McGovern TH, Perdikaris S, Vésteinsson O (2007) Abandoned farms, volcanic impacts, and woodland management: revisiting Þjórsárdalur, the “Pompeii of Iceland”. Arctic Anthropol 44:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dugmore AJ, Gísladóttir G, Simpson IA, Newton A (2009) Conceptual models of 1200 years of Icelandic soil erosion reconstructed using tephrochronology. Journal of the North Atlantic 2:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Eddudóttir SD, Erlendsson E, Gísladóttir G (2015) Life on the periphery is tough: Vegetation in Northwest Iceland and its responses to early-Holocene warmth and later climate fluctuations. Holocene 25:1,437–1,453Google Scholar
  29. Eddudóttir SD, Erlendsson E, Tinganelli L, Gísladóttir G (2016) Climate change and human impact in a sensitive ecosystem: the Holocene environment of the Northwest Icelandic highland margin. Boreas 45:715–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Edwards K, Craigie R (1998) Palynological and vegetational changes associated with the deposition of Saksunarvatn ash in the Faroe Islands. Fróðskaparrit 46:245–258Google Scholar
  31. Edwards KJ, Dugmore AJ, Blackford JJ (2004) Vegetational response to tephra deposition and land-use change in Iceland: a modern analogue and multiple working hypothesis approach to tephropalynology. Polar Rec 40:113–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Einarsson P (2008) Plate boundaries, rifts and transforms in Iceland. Jökull 58:35–58Google Scholar
  33. Erlendsson E (2007) Environmental change around the time of the Norse settlement of Iceland. PhD Thesis, University of AberdeenGoogle Scholar
  34. Erlendsson E, Edwards KJ, Buckland PC (2009) Vegetational response to human colonisation of the coastal and volcanic environments of Ketilsstaðir, southern Iceland. Quat Res 72:174–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Fægri K, Iversen J (1989) In: Fægri K, Kaland PE, Krzywinski K (eds) Textbook of Pollen Analysis. 4th edn. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  36. Gathorne-Hardy FJ, Erlendsson E, Langdon PG, Edwards KJ (2009) Lake sediment evidence for late Holocene climate change and landscape erosion in western Iceland. J Paleolimnol 42:413–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Geirsdóttir Á, Miller GH, Larsen DJ, Ólafsdóttir S (2013) Abrupt Holocene climate transitions in the northern North Atlantic region recorded by synchronized lacustrine records in Iceland. Quat Sci Rev 70:48–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gísladóttir G, Erlendsson E, Lal R (2011) Soil evidence for historical human-induced land degradation in West Iceland. Appl Geochem 26:S28–S31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gísladóttir FÓ, Brink SH, Arnalds Ó (2014) Nytjaland (Icelandic Farmland Database). Agricultural University of Iceland Report 49 [In Icelandic, English summary]Google Scholar
  40. Grimm EC (2011) TILIA 1.7.16. Illinois State Museum, SpringfieldGoogle Scholar
  41. Gudmundsson MT et al. (2012) Ash generation and distribution from the April-May 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland. Sci Rep 2:572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hallsdóttir M (1987) Pollen analytical studies of human influence on vegetation in relation to the landnám tephra layer in southwest Iceland. PhD Thesis, Lund UniversityGoogle Scholar
  43. Hallsdóttir M (1995) On the pre-settlement history of Icelandic vegetation. Búvísindi 9:19–29Google Scholar
  44. Hallsdóttir M, Caseldine CJ (2005) The Holocene vegetation history of Iceland, state-of-the-art and future research. In: Caseldine C, Russel A, Harðardóttir J, Knudsen Ó (eds) Iceland—modern processes and past environments. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 319–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hicks S (2001) The use of annual arboreal pollen deposition values for delimiting tree-lines in the landscape and exploring models of pollen dispersal. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 117:1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Horwell CJ, Baxter PJ (2006) The respiratory health hazards of volcanic ash: a review for volcanic risk mitigation. Bull Volcanol 69:1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Horwell C, Baxter P, Kamanyire R (2015) Health impacts of volcanic eruptions. In: Loughlin SC, Sparks S, Brown SK, Jenkins SF, Vye-Brown C (eds) Global Volcanic Hazards and Risk. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 289–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Karlsdóttir L, Hallsdóttir M, Thórsson AT, Anamthawat-Jónsson K (2008) Characteristics of pollen from natural triploid Betula hybrids. Grana 47:52–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Karlsdóttir L, Hallsdóttir M, Thórsson ÆT, Anamthawat-Jónsson K (2009) Evidence of hybridisation between Betula pubescens and B. nana in Iceland during the early Holocene. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 156(3–4):350–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Karlsdóttir L, Hallsdóttir M, Thórsson ÆT, Anamthawat-Jónsson K (2012) Early Holocene hybridisation between Betula pubescens and B. nana in relation to birch vegetation in Southwest Iceland. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 181:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Katz NJ, Katz SV, Kipiani MG (1965) Atlas and keys of fruits and seeds occuring in the Quaternary deposits of the USSR. Publishing House Nauka, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  52. Kristinsson H (2010) Flowering plants and ferns of Iceland. Mál og menning, ReykjavíkGoogle Scholar
  53. Kuoppamaa M, Huusko A, Hicks S (2009) Pinus and Betula pollen accumulation rates from the northern boreal forest as a record of interannual variation in July temperature. J Quat Sci 24:513–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Larsen G, Thorarinsson S (1977) H4 and other acid Hekla tephra layers. Jökull 27:28–46Google Scholar
  55. Larsen DJ, Miller GH, Geirsdóttir Á, Ólafsdóttir S (2012) Non-linear Holocene climate evolution in the North Atlantic: a high-resolution, multi-proxy record of glacier activity and environmental change from Hvítárvatn, central Iceland. Quat Sci Rev 39:14–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Larsen G, Gudmundsson MT, Vogfjörð K, Ilyinskaya E, Oddsson B, Pagneux E (2015a) The Bárðarbunga volcanic system. In: Ilyinskaya E, Larsen G, Gudmundsson M (eds) Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. IMO, UI, CPD–NCIPGoogle Scholar
  57. Larsen G, Gudmundsson MT, Vogfjörð K, Ilyinskaya E, Oddsson B, Pagneux E (2015b) The Katla volcanic system. In: Ilyinskaya E, Larsen G, Gudmundsson M (eds) Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. IMO, UI, CPD–NCIPGoogle Scholar
  58. Larsen G, Thordarson T, Vogfjörð K, Ilyinskaya E, Oddsson B, Pagneux E (2015c) The Hekla volcanic system. In: Ilyinskaya E, Larsen G, Gudmundsson M (eds) Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. IMO, UI, CPD–NCIPGoogle Scholar
  59. Liu E, Cashman K, Beckett F, Witham C, Leadbetter S, Hort M, Guðmundsson S (2014) Ash mists and brown snow: remobilization of volcanic ash from recent Icelandic eruptions. J Geophys Res, Atmospheres 119:9,463–9,480Google Scholar
  60. Mack RN (1987) Effects of Mount St Helens ashfall in steppe communities of eastern Washington: one year later. In: Bilderback DE (ed) Mount St Helens 1980—Botanical Consequences of the Explosive Eruptions. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 262–281Google Scholar
  61. Mäkelä EM (1996) Size distinctions between Betula pollen types—a review. Grana 35:248–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. McGovern TH et al. (2007) Landscapes of settlement in northern Iceland: Historical ecology of human impact and climate fluctuation on the millennial scale. Am Anthropol 109:27–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Moore PD, Webb JA, Collison ME (1991) Pollen analysis. Blackwell Scientific Publications, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  64. Nakagawa T, Brugiapaglia E, Digerfeldt G, Reille M, Beaulieu J-LD, Yasuda Y (1998) Dense-media separation as a more efficient pollen extraction method for use with organic sediment/deposit samples: comparison with the conventional method. Boreas 27:15–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Oksanen J et al. (2016) vegan: Community Ecology Package, R package version 2.3-3 ednGoogle Scholar
  66. Ólafsdóttir R, Guðmundsson HJ (2002) Holocene land degradation and climatic change in northeastern Iceland. Holocene 12:159–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sarna-Wojcicki A, Shipley S, Waitt R, Dzuricin D, Wood S (1981) Areal distribution, thickness, mass, volume and grain size of air-fall ash from the six major eruptions of 1980. In: Lipman PW, Mullineaux DR (eds) The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Washington Govt Printing Office, Washington DC, pp 577–616Google Scholar
  68. Sharma K, Self S, Blake S, Thordarson T, Larsen G (2008) The AD 1362 Öræfajökull eruption, SE Iceland: Physical volcanology and volatile release. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 178:719–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sigmundsson F, Pinel V, Lund B, Albino F, Pagli C, Geirsson H, Sturkell E (2010) Climate effects on volcanism: influence on magmatic systems of loading and unloading from ice mass variations, with examples from Iceland. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A Math Phys Eng Sci 368:2,519–2,534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Stockmarr J (1971) Tablets with spores used in absolute pollen analysis. Pollen Spores 13:614–621Google Scholar
  71. Thomas PA, El-Barghathi M, Polwart A (2007) Biological Flora of the British Isles: Juniperus communis L. J Ecol 95:1,404–1,440Google Scholar
  72. Thorarinsson S (1944) Tefrokronologiska studier på Island. Pjórsárdalur och Dess Förödelse. Geogr Ann 26:1–217Google Scholar
  73. Thorarinsson S (1958) The Öræfajökull eruption of 1362. Acta Naturalia Islandica II:101Google Scholar
  74. Thordarson T, Höskuldsson Á (2008) Postglacial volcanism in Iceland. Jökull 58:197–228Google Scholar
  75. Thorsteinsson T, Gísladóttir G, Bullard J, McTainsh G (2011) Dust storm contributions to airborne particulate matter in Reykjavík, Iceland. Atmos Environ 45:5,924–5,933Google Scholar
  76. Thorsteinsson T, Jóhannsson T, Stohl A, Kristiansen NI (2012) High levels of particulate matter in Iceland due to direct ash emissions by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption and resuspension of deposited ash. J Geophys Res, Solid Earth 117Google Scholar
  77. Thorvaldsdóttir S, Sigbjörnsson R (2015) Framing the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption from a farming-disaster perspective. Natural Hazards 77:1,619–1,653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Vickers K, Erlendsson E, Church MJ, Edwards KJ, Bending J (2011) 1000 years of environmental change and human impact at Stóra-Mörk, southern Iceland: a multiproxy study of a dynamic and vulnerable landscape. Holocene 21:979–995CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vilmundardóttir OK, Magnússon B, Gísladóttir G, Magnússon SM (2009) Gróðurframvinda í áfoksgeira í mólendi við Blöndulón. Náttúrufræðingurinn 78:125–137Google Scholar
  80. Wastl M, Stötter J, Caseldine C (2001) Reconstruction of Holocene variations of the upper limit of tree or shrub birch growth in northern Iceland based on evidence from Vesturárdalur-Skíðadalur, Tröllaskagi. Arct Antarct Alp Res 33:191–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Weinstein P, Horwell CJ, Cook A (2013) Volcanic emissions and health. In: Selinus O (ed) Essentials of medical geology: revised edition. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 217–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Zobel DB, Antos JA (1997) A decade of recovery of understory vegetation buried by volcanic tephra from Mount St. Helens. Ecol Monogr 67:317–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Zobel DB, Antos JA (2007) Flowering and seedling production of understory herbs in old-growth forests affected by 1980 tephra from Mount St. Helens. Botany 85:607–620Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland
  2. 2.Institute of Earth SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

Personalised recommendations