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What if scientists always agreed, never argued, or changed their minds?

Clues in Buried Homes: Until archeologists discovered Sinagua-style pithouses beneath the cinders, scientists did not suspect Sunset Crater was so young. Knowing the age of the pithouses from tree-ring dates and pottery types found in these homes, they concluded the eruption occurred after 1046 and before 1071.



Patterns in Tree Rings: Trees near an erupting volcano, if they are injured but continue to live, show a growth disturbance in their rings. Based on the growth pattern seen in three wood specimens from nearby Wupatki Pueblo, scientists hypothesized that the eruption occurred between the growing seasons of 1064 and 1065. But, this evidence is limited and inconclusive.

Magnetism in Rocks: Geologists have taken more than 100 core samples from the Sunset Crater lava flows for paleomagnetic studies. Using both paleomagnetic dating and stratigraphic evidence, geologists currently restrict the Sunset eruption to sometime between 1040 and 1100.