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Towards a European tephrochronological framework for Termination 1 and the Early Holocene

SIWAN M. DAVIES, NICHOLAS P. BRANCH, J. JOHN LOWE, CHRIS S. M. TURNEY

Abstract

The record of deposition of tephras in Europe and the North Atlantic during the period 18.5–8.0 <SUP>14</SUP>C ka BP (the Last Termination and Early Holocene) is reviewed. Altogether, 34 tephras originating from four main volcanic provinces (Iceland, the Eifel district, the Massif Central and Italy) have been identified so far in geological sequences spanning this time–interval. Most of the records have been based, until very recently, on observations of visible layers of tephras. Here, we report on the potential for extending the areas over which some of the tephras can be traced by the search for layers of micro–tephra, which are not visible to the naked eye, and on the use of geochemical methods to correlate them with known tephra horizons. This approach has greatly extended the area in Northern Europe over which the Vedde Ash can be traced. The same potential exists in southern Europe, which is demonstrated for the first time by the discovery of a distinct layer of micro–tephra of the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff in a site in the Northern Apennines in Italy, far to the north of the occurrences of visible records of this tephra. The paper closes by considering the potential for developing a robust European tephrostratigraphy to underpin the chronology of records of the Last Termination and Early Holocene, thereby promoting a better understanding of the nature, timing and environmental effects of the abrupt climatic changes that characterized this period.

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