Distal tephrochronology in volcanic regions: Challenges and insights from Kamchatkan lake sediments

Gill Plunkett, Sarah E. Coulter, Vera V. Ponomareva, Maarten Blaauw, Andrea Klimaschewski, Dan Hammarlund

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Kamchatka is one of the world’s most active volcanic regions and has hosted many explosive eruptions during the Holocene. These eruptions had the potential to disperse tephra over wide areas, forming time-synchronous markers wherever those tephras are found. Recent research in Kamchatka has begun to focus on the geochemical analysis of individual glass shards in order to characterise tephra layers. We have applied this approach to the study of visible tephras from three lakes – one in central and two in northern Kamchatka – with the aim of identifying key tephras and potential issues in the application of distal (>100 km from an active volcano) tephra in volcanically complex regions. In total, 23 tephras from 22 tephra beds have been geochemically analysed, representing products from at least four volcanic systems in Kamchatka. We demonstrate that distal lake sediments in the region can yield reliable tephrostratigraphies, capturing tephra from eruptions that have the greatest potential to disperse volcanic ash beyond the region. We draw attention to issues relating to correlating and distinguishing key marker horizons from the highly active Shiveluch Volcano, namely the need to ensure inter-lab comparability of geochemical data and good chronological control of the proximal and distal tephras. Importantly, we have also extended the known distribution of two key tephra isochrons from the Ksudach volcano. Our work contributes valuable glass geochemical on data several key marker beds that will facilitate future tephra and palaeoenvironmental research within and beyond Kamchatka.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-40
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Early online date10 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • distal tephra
  • tephrochronology
  • age-modelling
  • Kamchatka
  • Holocene


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