A high-resolution tephrostratigraphy from Quoyloo Meadow, Orkney, Scotland: Implications for the tephrostratigraphy of NW Europe during the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition

Rhys Timms, Ian Matthews, Adrian Palmer, Ian Candy, Lawrence Abel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Macro- and crypto-tephra layers deposited in European climate archives during the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition (LGIT ca. 16e8 ka) have become increasingly important as a means to robustly correlate palaeoclimate records, and to test the spatial and temporal synchronicity of climatic transitions.
However, correlations between climate archives are currently limited by the number of tephra-linkages that can be made. This disparity in the observed distributions of tephras may lie with methodological limitations relating to the resolution of cryptotephra refinement within palaeoclimate records. Here we present new data from Quoyloo Meadow, Orkney Mainland, Scotland, where nine tephra horizons and ten chemically distinct tephra populations have been identified and correlated to known eruptions during the LGIT. Three of the tephras; the Hasseldalen, Hovsdalur and the Fosen are characterised and placed into a reliable tephrostratigraphy for the first time in the British Isles. The detection of new tephra layers in this case is thought to reflect modifications to the sampling approach applied here. The resulting tephrostratigraphy is used to produce an age model with centennial-scale precision, providing new age estimates for three poorly dated tephras. The chronology rivals the output of more traditionally dated radiocarbon chronologies, and illustrates the potential for tephra to develop robust age-depth models for carbonate sequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-81
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
Early online date18 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Tephrochronology
  • Cryptotephra
  • Scotland
  • Orkney

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