The late Quaternary tephrochronology of the Adriatic region: implications for the synchronisation of marine records

Anna Bourne

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Tephrochronologies for three marine core sequences from the Adriatic Sea have been constructed. Two of the sequences, PRAD 1-2 and RF93-77, are located in the central Adriatic and the third, SA03-03, lies in the southern Adriatic. Isotopic and biostratigraphic records are available for all three sequences, features of which have been used as isochronous markers in the region. This project aimed to establish whether tephra layers provide (a) secure, independent isochronous tie-lines and (b) a robust methodology for testing correlations based on other methods.

A total of 54 tephra layers have been identified within these sequences, of which only 8 are visible layers, the remainder being classified as cryptotephras. Geochemical characterisation of the ash layers has been undertaken using electron microprobe analysis and laser-ablation trace element methods. Geochemical correlation to the detailed tephra record from Lago Grande di Monticchio was performed using chemical element biplots and discriminant function analysis.

Bayesian-based age models were generated for the three Adriatic records using available chronological information that are independent of assumptions of synchroneity between proxy marker events. These models allowed comparisons with tephra and palaeoenvironmental data from Lago Grande di Monticchio and other Mediterranean sites. The results support some assumptions of synchronous regional changes, but not others.

The key outcomes are (a) the recognition of additional (non-visible) distal ash layers that enhance the potential for correlating marine and terrestrial records in the central Mediterranean; (b) volcanic ash records preserved in Lago Grande di Monticchio and in some localities proximal to volcanic sources appear to be incomplete; and (c) isotopic records in Adriatic sediment sequences reflect regional forcing factors more than local conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Lowe, John, Supervisor
  • Blockley, Simon, Supervisor
  • Trincardi, Fabio, Supervisor, External person
  • Candy, Ian, Advisor
  • Matthews, Ian, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Mar 2012
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


  • Tephrochronology
  • Adriatic
  • Quaternary
  • Cryptotephra

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