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      Cryptotephras: the revolution in correlation and precision dating1


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          From its Icelandic origins in the study of visible tephra horizons, tephrochronology took a remarkable step in the late 1980 s with the discovery of a ca. 4300-year-old microscopic ash layer in a Scottish peat bog. Since then, the search for these cryptotephra deposits in distal areas has gone from strength to strength. Indeed, a recent discovery demonstrates how a few fine-grained glass shards from an Alaskan eruption have been dispersed more than 7000 km to northern Europe. Instantaneous deposition of geochemically distinct volcanic ash over such large geographical areas gives rise to a powerful correlation tool with considerable potential for addressing a range of scientific questions. A prerequisite of this work is the establishment of regional tephrochronological frameworks that include well-constrained age estimates and robust geochemical signatures for each deposit. With distal sites revealing a complex record of previously unknown volcanic events, frameworks are regularly revised, and it has become apparent that some closely timed eruptions have similar geochemical signatures. The search for unique and robust geochemical fingerprints thus hinges on rigorous analysis by electron microprobe and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Historical developments and significant breakthroughs are presented to chart the revolution in correlation and precision dating over the last 50 years using tephrochronology and cryptotephrochronology.

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          A Younger Dryas Ash Bed in Western Norway, and Its Possible Correlations with Tephra in Cores from the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic

          A bed of volcanic ash up to 23 cm thick is found in lacustrine and marine sediments in western Norway. It is formally mamed the Vedde Ash Bed, and its age is approximately 10,600 yr B.P., i.e., mid-Younger Dryas. The bed consits of pure glass having a bimodal basaltic and rhyolitic composition. The geochemistry of the glass shards suggests an Icelandic source. By means of stratigraphic position and geochemistry, the ash is correlated with ash zones found in cores from the continental shelf, the Norwegian Sea, and the North Atlatic.
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            Volcanism in Iceland in historical time: Volcano types, eruption styles and eruptive history

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              The timing of the last deglaciation in North Atlantic climate records.

              To determine the mechanisms governing the last deglaciation and the sequence of events that lead to deglaciation, it is important to obtain a temporal framework that applies to both continental and marine climate records. Radiocarbon dating has been widely used to derive calendar dates for marine sediments, but it rests on the assumption that the 'apparent age' of surface water (the age of surface water relative to the atmosphere) has remained constant over time. Here we present new evidence for variation in the apparent age of surface water (or reservoir age) in the North Atlantic ocean north of 40 degrees N over the past 20,000 years. In two cores we found apparent surface-water ages to be larger than those of today by 1,230 +/- 600 and 1,940 +/- 750 years at the end of the Heinrich 1 surge event (15,000 years BP) and by 820 +/- 430 to 1,010 +/- 340 years at the end of the Younger Dryas cold episode. During the warm Bølling-Allerød period, between these two periods of large reservoir ages, apparent surface-water ages were comparable to present values. Our results allow us to reconcile the chronologies from ice cores and the North Atlantic marine records over the entire deglaciation period. Moreover, the data imply that marine carbon dates from the North Atlantic north of 40 degrees N will need to be corrected for these highly variable effects.

                Author and article information

                J Quat Sci
                J Quat Sci
                Journal of Quaternary Science
                John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK )
                February 2015
                30 March 2015
                : 30
                : 2
                : 114-130
                Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University Swansea, Wales, UK
                Author notes
                * Correspondence: S. M. Davies, as above., E-mail: siwan.davies@ 123456swansea.ac.uk

                The copyright line for this article was changed on 9 November 2015 after original online publication.

                © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 02 November 2014
                : 15 January 2015
                Special Issue Article: Quaternary Revolutions

                correlation,cryptotephra deposits,geochemical signatures,regional frameworks,tephrochronology


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