Quaternary Tephrostratigraphy and
Holloway tephra group has been one of the leading research groups in the study
of distal tephra for well over a decade. The group works predominantly on ash
layers that are not visible to the naked eye (cryptotephra) and many of the key
techniques for the detection and extraction of cryptotephra from lacustrine and
other minerogenic deposits were developed at Royal Holloway (e.g. Turney et
al., 1997, Blockely et al., 2005). These are based on density separation of
vitreous tephra from host minerogenic and organic sediment and have been used
successfully in a number of projects to extract tephra for identification and
chemical analyses for provenance purposes from lakes, peat deposits, caves and even
fluvial systems. The technique usually works on tephra in the 15-125 µm size
range and tephra are identified microscopically after flotation separation.
Within the CQR we have a suite of dedicated laboratories for working on both
abundant glass shards with several hundred to thousands of shards in a gram of
sediment down to facilities that are able to identify just a few shards per
gram. Successful cryptotephra studies that CQR members are involved with
include the use of tephra to provide a chronology for Neanderthal resilience to
climate change as part of the RESET project (Lowe at al 2012), and act as key
tools for underpinning past climate reconstruction, when coupled with a range
of other dating techniques and palaeoenvironmental proxies (e.g. Matthews
ABERNETHY). The CQR tephra group also plays an active role in integrating
tephra as part of an overall event stratigraphic framework for understanding
past climate change and is involved in the construction of the COST-INTIMATE
group’s event stratigraphy for the North Atlantic region (Blockley et al.,
2012) and also in developing new frameworks for the Mediterranean (Bourne et
al., 2010) and Asian Pacific regions (Smith et al., 2011).
S.P.E., Pyne-O’Donnell, S.D.F., Lowe, J.J., Matthews, I.P., Stone, A., Pollard,
A.M., Turney, C.S.M., Molyneux, E.G. 2005. A new and less destructive laboratory
procedure for the physical separation of distal glass tephra shards from
sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews. 24, 1952-1960.
S.P.E., Lane, C.S., Hardiman,M., Rassmussen, S., Seierstad, I., Steffensen,
J.P., Svenson, A., Lotter, A.F., Turney, C.S., Ramsey, C.B., – and INTIMATE
members. 2012. Synchronisation of
palaeoenvironmental records over the last 60,000 years, and an extended
INTIMATE event stratigraphy to 48,000 b2k. Quaternary Science Reviews, INTIMATE
Special issue 36. 2-10.
Lowe, J.J., Trincardi, F., Asioli, A.,
Blockley, S.P.E., Wulf,S., Matthews, I.P., Piva, A., Vigliotti, L. 2010. Distal
tephra record for the last ca 105,000 years from core PRAD 1-2 in the central
Adriatic Sea: implications for marine tephrostratigraphy. Quaternary Science
Reviews. 29, 3079-3094.
Barton, N., Blockley, S.P.E., Bronk Ramsey, C., Cullen, V., et al. 2012. Volcanic
ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early Modern Humans to
natural hazards. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United
States of America. 109, 13532-13537.
Mark, D., Staff, R., Blockley, S.P.E., Bronk-Ramsey, C., Bryant, C.S.,
Nakagawa, T., Kyu Han, K., Weh, A., Takemura, K., Danhara, T., Suigetsu 2006
Project Members. 2011. Toward establishing precise 40Ar/39Ar chronologies for
Late Pleistocenepalaeoclimate archives: an example from the Lake Suigetsu
(Japan) sedimentary record. Quaternary Science Reviews. 30, 2845-2850.
Turney, C S
M, Harkness, D D, and Lowe, J J. 1997. The use of microtephra horizons to
correlate Late-glacial lake sediment successions in Scotland. Journal of
Quaternary Science 12 (6), 525–531.