Detection and Characterisation of Eemian Marine Tephra Layers within the Sapropel S5 Sediments of the Aegean and Levantine Seas

Chris Satow, Grant Katharine, Sabine Wulf, Hartmut Schulz, Addison Mallon, Ian Matthews, John Lowe

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The Eemian was the last interglacial period (~130 to 115 ka BP) to precede the current interglacial. In Eastern Mediterranean marine sediments, it is marked by a well-developed and organic-rich “sapropel” layer (S5), which is thought to reflect an intensification and northward migration of the African monsoon rain belt over orbital timescales. However, despite the importance of these sediments, very little proxy-independent stratigraphic information is available to enable rigorous correlation of these sediments across the region. This paper presents the first detailed study of visible and non-visible (cryptotephra) layers found within these sediments at three marine coring sites: ODP Site 967B (Levantine Basin), KL51 (South East of Crete) and LC21 (Southern Aegean Sea). Major element analyses of the glass component were used to distinguish four distinct tephra events of Santorini (e.g., Vourvoulos eruption) and possible Anatolian provenance occurring during the formation of S5. Interpolation of core chronologies provides provisional eruption ages for the uppermost tephra (unknown Santorini, 121.8 ± 2.9 ka) and lowermost tephra (Anatolia or Kos/Yali/Nisyros, 126.4 ± 2.9 ka). These newly characterised tephra deposits have also been set into the regional tephrostratigraphy to illustrate the potential to precisely synchronise marine proxy records with their terrestrial counterparts, and also contribute to the establishment of a more detailed volcanic history of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2020

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