A flurry of new geochemical evidence for Viking travels 1,000 years ago has surfaced.

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A flurry of new geochemical evidence for Viking travels 1,000 years ago has surfaced.

Norse people were in L’Anse aux Meadows exactly 1,000 years ago, according to new geochemical dating techniques.

Long before Columbus arrived to the Americas, archaeologists have been amassing tangible evidence that Norse people landed and lived for at least a few years in far northern Newfoundland, Canada. The Vikings built dwellings and workshops out of wood and sod at L’Anse aux Meadows, and left behind food, tools, and building materials that scientists have been studying. But when precisely did they arrive? The Sun and its electromagnetic interaction with Earth provide the most recent explanation.

Researchers previously assumed that the Vikings were frequent visitors or settlers in L’Anse aux Meadows between 970 and 1030 CE based on clues from literature and history, such as legends of Vinland from Norse sagas, and radiocarbon dating of wood and bone pieces. Many researchers believe they were there for three to 10 years, with one group believing it could have lasted as long as a century.

Scientists discovered that the Vikings were in L’Anse aux Meadows in 1021, exactly 1000 years ago, according to a new study published in October 2021. The team, led by experts from the University of Groningen and Parks Canada, analyzed wood fragments using geochemical dating techniques to pinpoint the exact year the trees surrounding the site were felled.

The Earth is constantly assaulted by space radiation, primarily from the Sun, which includes both benign visible light and radio waves as well as less benign ultraviolet light and X rays. (Our atmosphere absorbs, reflects, or refracts much of it.) The universe also bombards our planet with cosmic rays and other forms of radiation, which crash with gases in our atmosphere to produce carbon-14. The Sun can also produce carbon-14 and beryllium through powerful bursts of radiation.

Michael Dee, Margot Kuitems, and colleagues were able to date Viking life in Newfoundland to 1021 because to such an outburst. Other researchers earlier discovered evidence of a severe space weather event in late 992 and early 993 CE, when historical records from Germany, Korea, and Iceland documented spectacular red auroras at middle latitudes. (Solar storms are the most common cause of auroras.) The event resulted in an increase in atmospheric carbon-14 on Earth, which is absorbed by trees’ tissues as they grow. Dee and colleagues discovered the carbon-14 boost while examining twisted wood fragments from L’Anse aux Meadows. Summary of the latest news from Brinkwire.

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