International Focus Group On Tephrochronology And Volcanism (INTAV)

Posted by in INQUA News & Events on

INTAV is an International focus group within INQUA that has been both a driver and vehicle for one of the major avenues for the advancement of Quaternary science in recent times: developments in the science, methodology, and application of tephrochronology. Tephrochronology is the use of primary tephra layers or cryptotephra deposits as isochronous beds to connect and synchronize depositional sequences, and to transfer relative or numerical ages to such sequences using stratigraphic information together with lithological and compositional data obtained for the tephras or cryptotephras. Tephras are the explosively-erupted, unconsolidated, pyroclastic products of volcanic eruptions; cryptotephras are glass-shard and/or crystal concentrations insufficiently numerous to be visible as layers to the naked eye.

Tephras and buried soils in North Island, New Zealand, dating back to 14,000 cal BP.
Tephras and buried soils in North Island, New Zealand, dating back to 14,000 cal BP.
Tephrochronology is thus a method (via tephrostratigraphy) for connecting and dating geological, palaeoecological, palaeoclimatic, or archaeological sequences or events, or soils, using characterized tephras or cryptotephras as chronostratigraphic marker beds or deposits. It is also a method used in volcanological studies on volcano eruption history and volcanic hazard assessment and analysis.

Tephra studies (tephrochronology) are one of the best examples of inter-environmental and inter-disciplinarity working that exists in the geoscience community. For further information about tephrochronology, please see recent review articles or volumes listed below.

EXTRAS project “EXTending TephRAS”
The long-term aim of INTAV is the enhancement of tephrochronology as a global research tool and its application in multiple Quaternary disciplines including volcanology, and thus, through chronostratigraphy, support and underpin many Quaternary projects (such as RESET, CELL50K, TRACE, SMART, INTIMATE, SHAPE) as well as geochronological and volcanological applications. At the same time, we want to maintain and extend the capability of the discipline and to promulgate its value to the wider community both scientific and layperson. The aim is encapsulated by the new EXTRAS project “EXTending TephRAS as a global geoscientific research tool stratigraphically, spatially, analytical, and temporally within the Quaternary” being led by INTAV.   More details are available on Facebook (!/groups/INTAV/).

INTAV’s current leadership (2015-2019) involves Prof Takehiko Suzuki (Japan, president), Dr Victoria Smith (UK, vice president), Dr Britta Jensen (Canada, vice president), Dr Peter Abbott (UK, vice president), and Prof David Lowe (New Zealand, immediate-past president).

Some review articles or recent volumes of collected papers on tephrochronology and its application
Alloway, B.V., Lowe, D.J., Larsen, G., Shane, P.A.R., Westgate, J.A. 2013. Tephrochronology. In: Elias, S.A., Mock, C.J. (eds) The Encyclopaedia of Quaternary Science, 2nd edition, Vol. 4, pp. 277-304. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Austin, W.E.N., Abbott, P.M., Davies, S.M., Pearce, N.J.G., Wastegård, S. (eds) 2014. Marine Tephrochronology. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 398, 1-213.

Davies, S.M. 2015. Cryptotephras: the revolution in correlation and precision dating. Journal of Quaternary Science 30, 114-130.

Froese, D.G., Slate, J.L., Lowe, D.J., Knott, J. (eds) 2008. Global tephra studies: John Westgate and Andrei Sarna-Wojcicki commemorative volume. Quaternary International 178, 1-320

Lane, C.S. 2014. Cryptotephra as a dating and correlation tool in archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science 42, 42-50.

Lowe, D.J. 2011. Tephrochronology and its application: a review. Quaternary Geochronology 6, 107-153.

Lowe, D.J., Alloway, B.V. 2015. Tephrochronology. In: Rink, W.J., Thompson, J.W. (eds). “Encyclopaedia of Scientific Dating Methods”. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 783-799.

Lowe, D.J., Moriwaki, H., Davies, S.M., Suzuki, T., Pearce, N.J.G. (editors) 2011. Enhancing tephrochronology and its application (INTREPID project): Hiroshi Machida commemorative volume. Quaternary International 246, 1-395

Riede, F., Thastrup, M. D. 2013. Tephra, tephrochronology and archaeology – a (re)view from northern Europe. Heritage Science 1 (15), 1-17.