A regional tephrostratigraphic framework for central and southern European climate archives during the Last Glacial to Interglacial transition: comparisons north and south of the Alps

C.S. Lane, S.P.E. Blockley, A.F. Lotter, W. Finsinger, M.L. Fillippi, I.P. Matthews

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This paper summarises the results of tephrochronological investigations into a suite of central and southern European records, which include: Rotmeer, southern Germany; Soppensee and Rotsee, central Swiss Plateau; Lago di Lavarone and Lago Piccolo di Avigliana, Italian southern Alpine foreland. These sites provide records of palaeoenvironmental changes for the Last Glacial to Interglacial Transition (LGIT) at the boundary between North Atlantic and Mediterranean climatic influences. Chemical characterisation of glass shards in volcanic ash layers indicates that multiple volcanic sources have contributed to the central European tephra record. Amongst other volcanic markers, the Laacher See Tephra, originating from the Eifel region of Germany c. 12.9 ± 0.1 ka, and the Vedde Ash from Iceland c. 12.1 ± 0.1 ka, are found co-located within the sediments of Rotmeer, Soppensee, Rotsee and Lago Piccolo di Avigliana. These key horizons, which bracket the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial, provide precise calendrically-dated tie points around which a detailed picture of the timing of local and regional environmental transitions can be constructed. Using the co-located tephra layers the re-colonisation of Northern Italian catchment areas by Quercus is shown to occur just prior to the deposition of the Laacher See Tephra layer, whereas to the North of the Alps Quercus and other thermophilous trees do not reappear until several centuries after the deposition of the Vedde Ash. Furthermore, the discovery of the Vedde Ash in Lago Piccolo di Avigliana and Lago di Lavarone is indicative of atmospheric transport of polar air into southern Europe during the Younger Dryas stadial, matching evidence proposed for such transport of polar air during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date20 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2012


  • Vedde
  • Tephra
  • Alps
  • Lateglacial

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