Stockholm university

Stefan Wastegård


I am teaching on several courses on bachelor and master's level. 


My research is directed towards the Late Quaternary and the climate development during this dynamic period in the history of Earth. I work with diverse climatic archives, ranging from marine cores from the North Atlantic, ice-cores from Greenland to terrestrial peat and lacustrine deposits in Scandinavia, the Azores and Patagonia. Although close similarities are evident in the palaeoclimatic reconstructions obtained from terrestrial, marine and ice-core records from the Late Quaternary period, uncertainties exist as to the degree of synchroneity (or asynchroneity) between them, largely due to the limitations of the radio-carbon dating method (radiocarbon plateaux, reservoir effects) and the lack of suitable dating methods for the time period before ca 40 ka BP. Therefore, new approaches are required for geochronology models and correlation of sequences and events. One method that holds much promise of effecting more precise regional correlations is tephrochronology. Chronological control and the resultant ability to examine the degree of synchrony among records of different origin are critical for the understanding of climate and environmental variability.

Present and former PhD students (as main supervisor)

  • Hans Johansson
  • Ewa Lind
  • Carl Lilja
  • Sofia Andersson
  • Anders Borgmark
  • Simon Larsson
  • Christos Katrantsiotis

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Holocene wet shifts in NW European bogs: evidence for the roles of external forcing and internal feedback from a high-resolution study of peat properties, plant macrofossils and testate amoebae

    2023. Mats Rundgren (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 38 (3), 423-439


    Two conspicuous wet shifts in the peat stratigraphy of Store Mosse in southern Sweden, associated with bog-wide changes in vegetation and degree of peat decomposition, were analysed at high resolution. The bog-surface wetness (BSW) proxy data (organic matter bulk density, C/N ratio, plant macrofossils and testate amoebae) highlight the importance of interactions between vegetation composition, microtopography and degree of peat decomposition, and show that the bog system operated consistently during the two wet shifts (dated to c. 2700 and 1000 cal a bp) despite different internal and external conditions. A sensitive bog-system state, associated with a degraded microtopography and well-decomposed surface peat with low hydrological conductivity developed during sustained dry conditions, probably contributed to the large BSW amplitudes registered. Comparable bog systems are expected to operate in the same way, and regionally high sensitivity that developed in response to atmospheric circulation changes may partly explain synchronous registration of wet shifts. The wet shifts in Store Mosse were attributed to solar and volcanic forcing, respectively, and wet shifts of similar magnitude registered in other NW European bogs are likely to also have been externally forced. 

    Read more about Holocene wet shifts in NW European bogs
  • The Holocene of Sweden – a review

    2022. Stefan Wastegård. GFF 144 (2), 126-149


    This paper presents a review on more than hundred years of palaeoenvironmental research in Sweden; from early descriptions of peat and tufa deposits in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to multiproxy transfer function studies in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries CE. Research on Holocene climate variability has a long history in Sweden and many ideas and concepts about changes in temperature and precipitation during the Holocene originated in Fennoscandia. The Holocene climate evolution in Sweden follows a pattern in common for many northern latitude records with a rapid warming starting at the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary at c. 11 650 cal a BP, followed by the middle Holocene thermal maximum between c. 8000 and 5000 cal a BP. A change to colder and wetter conditions starts c. 4000 cal a BP and lasts until the late 1800 s CE. There is evidence for climatic anomalies such as the 8.2 and 4.2 ka BP events and the Little Ice Age (LIA) but only inconclusive evidence for other events, such as the 10.3 ka BP event. The main pattern of Holocene climate and environmental evolution is well known for most parts of Sweden, but the present review also shows that several research questions remain to be addressed. 

    Read more about The Holocene of Sweden – a review
  • Palaeolake sediment records reveal a mid- to late Younger Dryas ice-sheet maximum in Mid-Norway

    2022. Fredrik Høgaas (et al.). Boreas 51 (2), 41-60


    We present a revised chronology of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet's glacial maximum during the Younger Dryas (Tautra event) in Mid-Norway. Sediment records from palaeolakes near Leksvik show the occurrence of thick, laminated silt units with numerous dropstones between organic-rich units and indicate that a proglacial lake was dammed between the Tautra ice margin and a local spillway. Ash beds and several radiocarbon-dated plant macrofossil samples from corresponding stratigraphical sequences in different basins provide robust chronological constraints for the timing and duration of the proglacial lake and, consequently, the Tautra event. The existing chronological constraints on the Tautra event suggest that the glacial episode occurred at 12.9-12.6 ka. Our new chronology indicates that the Younger Dryas ice-sheet re-advance culminated close to 12.1 cal. ka BP, maintained this position for a maximum of 700 years and started retreating inland at c. 11.4 cal. ka BP. Our revised age for retreat from the Younger Dryas glacial maximum thus differs from the existing deglaciation chronology by approximately a thousand years, and hints at a similar late Younger Dryas glacial maximum throughout most of southern Norway.

    Read more about Palaeolake sediment records reveal a mid- to late Younger Dryas ice-sheet maximum in Mid-Norway
  • Nordlaguna – A unique lake basin at the foot of the Beerenberg volcano, Jan Mayen, containing partially enigmatic sediments

    2022. Svante Björck (et al.). Quaternary Science Advances 7


    Sediments from the only permanent lake on the island of Jan Mayen (71°N, 08°30′W), Lake Nordlaguna (NL), were investigated. The lake, with an area of ∼1 km2, is situated at the foot of the world's northernmost active subaerial volcano and is separated from the sea by a 150–240 m wide beach barrier, which reaches 4–5 m above sea level. Most of the lake is deeper than 25 m, with the deepest part being 36 m. Altogether five coring sites, evenly spread out, were chosen and the sediment cores were retrieved from the lake ice with Uwitec and Nesje corers. After detailed descriptions of the very organic-poor and silt dominated sediments (of supposedly tephra-dominated origin), three sites were chosen for further analyses: macrofossils for 14C dating, tephra chemistry, C, S, grain-size, and XRF analyses. Based on 14C dates and the occurrence of the so-called Eggøya tephra (AD 1732), age models show variable bottom ages for the three sites: ∼3000, 600 and 400 cal yr BP. Due to the position of the core sites, with different sediment source areas, the elemental signals vary considerably between sites. An interesting feature of the lake is an isolated stock of Arctic char, which shows that the now land-locked lake has once been in contact with the sea. The almost total lack of organic material excluded any advanced paleo-ecologic investigations of the lake, and the study therefore focused on its marine-limnic history by different examinations of the XRF data with focus on the oldest and longest record. This development is based on elemental ratios (Br/Zn), PCA analyses of a center log ratio (clr) transformation of the original XRF data and magnetic susceptibility. It shows that the lake was isolated just before the time of the Eggøya tephra fall-out (∼220 cal yr BP), when the stock of Arctic char was most likely isolated from the sea. This was preceded by a ∼2200 yr long period of marine bay with a more or less open connection with the sea, and thus varying fresh-water impact. Between ∼2400 and 2600 cal yr BP the basin was more or less isolated, preceded by almost full marine conditions for at least the 300–400 preceding years we have data from, a period when relative sea level might have been higher. 

    Read more about Nordlaguna – A unique lake basin at the foot of the Beerenberg volcano, Jan Mayen, containing partially enigmatic sediments
  • A high-resolution Lateglacial–Early Holocene tephrostratigraphy from southernmost Sweden with comments on the Borrobol–Penifiler tephra complex

    2022. Simon A. Larsson, Stefan Wastegård. Quaternary Geochronology 67


    We present results from a cryptotephra investigation performed at a high resolution (0.5 cm) on sediments from Körslättamossen in southernmost Sweden. Six peak concentration levels were detected and extracted for geochemical analysis by electron probe microanalyser. Five of these levels were successfully analysed and we propose correlations to the Hässeldalen Tephra, the Vedde Ash, and the Laacher See Tephra (adding new analysis results for the first geochemically confirmed finding of the latter in Sweden), as well as an undetermined Borrobol-type tephra. The tephra identifications were combined with radiocarbon dated macrofossils in order to create an age model for the sampled sediments based on Bayesian methods. Stratigraphical and chronological results were found to concur with a previous study of the site and our results form the basis for discussion concerning the issues surrounding Lateglacial Borrobol-type tephras, of which we suggest further review in order to unlock these tephras’ full potential for Quaternary studies.

    Read more about A high-resolution Lateglacial–Early Holocene tephrostratigraphy from southernmost Sweden with comments on the Borrobol–Penifiler tephra complex
  • A dated volcano-tectonic deformation event in Jan Mayen causing landlocking of Arctic charr

    2021. Eiliv Larsen (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 36 (2), 180-190


    We provide the first documentation of tectonic deformation resulting from a volcanic eruption on the island of Jan Mayen. Vertical displacement of about 14 m southwest of the stratovolcano Beerenberg is associated with an eruption in ad 1732 on its southeastern flank. The age of the uplift event is bracketed by radiocarbon-dated driftwood buried by material deposited due to uplift, and by tephra from this eruption. Constraints, inferred from radiocarbon ages alone, allow for the possibility that uplift was completed prior to the ad 1732 eruption. However, the occurrence of tephra in the sediment column indicates that some displacement was ongoing during the eruption but ceased before the eruption terminated. We attribute the tectonic deformation to intrusion of shallow magma associated with the volcanic eruption. Our results complement previous studies of volcanic activity on Jan Mayan by providing precise age constraints for past volcanic activity. Also, it raises new hypotheses regarding the nature, timing and prevalence of precursor tectonic events to Jan Mayan eruptions. The uplift caused the complete isolation of a coastal lake by closing its outlet to the sea, thus landlocking the facultative migratory fish species Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus).

    Read more about A dated volcano-tectonic deformation event in Jan Mayen causing landlocking of Arctic charr
  • Hekla 1947, 1845, 1510 and 1158 tephra in Finland

    2020. Maarit Kalliokoski, Esther Ruth Guðmundsdóttir, Stefan Wastegård. Journal of Quaternary Science 35 (6), 803-816


    Several cryptotephra layers that originate from Icelandic volcanic eruptions with a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of <= 4 and tephra volumes of < 1 km(3)have previously been identified in Northern Europe, albeit within a restricted geographical area. One of these is the Hekla 1947 tephra that formed a visible fall-out in southern Finland. We searched for the Hekla 1947 tephra from peat archives within the previously inferred fall-out zone but found no evidence of its presence. Instead, we report the first identification of Hekla 1845 and Hekla 1510 cryptotephra layers outside of Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Ireland and the UK. Additionally, Hekla 1158 tephra was found in Finland for the first time. Our results confirm that Icelandic eruptions of moderate size can form cryptotephra deposits that are extensive enough to be used in inter-regional correlations of environmental archives and carry a great potential for refining regional tephrochronological frameworks. Our results also reveal that Icelandic tephra has been dispersed into Finnish airspace at least seven times during the past millennium and in addition to a direct eastward route the ash clouds can travel either via a northerly or a southerly transport pathway.

    Read more about Hekla 1947, 1845, 1510 and 1158 tephra in Finland
  • New major element analyses of proximal tephras from the Azores and suggested correlations with cryptotephras in North-West Europe

    2020. Stefan Wastegård, Hans Johansson, José M. Pacheco. Journal of Quaternary Science 35 (1-2), 114-121


    The Azores Archipelago is one of the most active volcanic areas in the North Atlantic region. Approximately 30 eruptions have been reported over the last 600 years with some major VEI 5 (Volcanic Explosivity Index) eruptions further back in time. The geochemical composition of associated tephra-derived glass, however, is not well characterized. An Azorean origin of cryptotephras found in distal areas such as North Africa, the British Isles and Greenland has been suggested, but proximal data from the Azores are scarce and the correlations have only been tentative. These tephras have a traychtic composition, which excludes an Icelandic origin. In a previous study, we presented major element analyses of proximal tephra-derived glass from five Holocene eruptions on the Azores Islands. There is a striking geochemical similarity between tephras from volcanoes on Sao Miguel and Irish cryptotephras, and especially with eruptives from the Furnas volcano. Here we present new analyses of proximal tephras that confirm and strengthen a link between Furnas and cryptotephras found in south-west Ireland. We also suggest a correlation between a previously unsourced tephra found in a Swedish bog with an eruption of the Sete Cidades volcano c. 3880 a cal BP.

    Read more about New major element analyses of proximal tephras from the Azores and suggested correlations with cryptotephras in North-West Europe
  • Refining the Late Quaternary tephrochronology for southern South America using the Laguna Potrok Aike sedimentary record

    2019. Rebecca E. Smith (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 218, 137-156


    This paper presents a detailed record of volcanism extending back to similar to 80 kyr BP for southern South America using the sediments of Laguna Potrok Aike (ICDP expedition 5022; Potrok Aike Maar Lake Sediment Archive Drilling Project - PASADO). Our analysis of tephra includes the morphology of glass, the mineral componentry, the abundance of glass-shards, lithics and minerals, and the composition of glass-shards in relation to the stratigraphy. Firstly, a reference database of glass compositions of known eruptions in the region was created to enable robust tephra correlations. This includes data published elsewhere, in addition to new glass-shard analyses of proximal tephra deposits from Hudson (eruption units H-1 and H-2), Aguilera (A(1)), Reclus (R-1, R2-3), Mt Burney (MB1, MB2, MBx, MB1910) and historical Lautaro/Viedma deposits. The analysis of the ninety-four tephra layers observed in the Laguna Potrok Aike sedimentary sequence reveals that twenty-five tephra deposits in the record are the result of primary fallout and are sourced from at least three different volcanoes in the Austral Andean Volcanic Zone (Mt Burney, Reclus, Lautaro/Viedma) and one in the southernmost Southern Volcanic Zone (Hudson). One new correlation to the widespread H-1 eruption from Hudson volcano at 8.7 (8.6-9.0) cal ka BP during the Quaternary is identified. The identification of sixty-five discrete deposits that were predominantly volcanic ashes (glass and minerals) with subtle characteristics of reworking (in addition to three likely reworked tephra, and one unknown layer) indicates that care must be taken in the analysis of both visible and invisible tephra layers to decipher their emplacement mechanisms.

    Read more about Refining the Late Quaternary tephrochronology for southern South America using the Laguna Potrok Aike sedimentary record
  • Climate changes in the Eastern Mediterranean over the last 5000 years and their links to the high-latitude atmospheric patterns and Asian monsoons

    2019. Christos Katrantsiotis (et al.). Global and Planetary Change 175, 36-51


    This research aims to improve the knowledge of the mid to late Holocene climate changes and the underlying drivers in the eastern Mediterranean. We focus on the Peloponnese peninsula, SW Greece, characterized by a W-E rainfall/temperature gradient and a strong climate-sensitivity to shifts in the large-scale atmospheric patterns. A radiocarbon-dated sediment core, taken from the ancient Lake Lerna, a former lake in NE Peloponnese, was analyzed for distribution and hydrogen isotope (δD) composition of n-alkanes and bulk organic geochemistry (δ13C, TOC). The predominantly macrophyte (submerged/floating)-derived δD23 profile exhibits the largest long-term fluctuation in the record and co-varies with δD of long-chain n-alkanes providing evidence for precipitation and temperature changes over the last 5000 years. The Lerna δD23 signal is sometimes in agreement with other n-alkane δD records from SW Peloponnese indicating wetter conditions in the peninsula at ca 5000–4600, ca 4500–4100, ca 3000–2600 (more unstable in SW) and after ca 700 cal BP with drier periods at ca 4100–3900 and ca 1000–700 cal BP. Conversely, a NE-SW climate see-saw is revealed at ca 4600–4500, ca 3200, ca 2600–1800, and ca 1200–1000 cal BP when the δD23 Lerna exhibits more positive trends (drier in NE) with a reversal at ca 3900–3300, ca 3200–3000 and ca 1800–1300 cal BP. These opposing and sometimes similar signals between NE and SW Peloponnese can be explained by the relative dominance of high-latitude atmospheric patterns over the peninsula. A similar signal would be expected when the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) exerts the main control with NAO (+) creating conditions of reduced moisture. The dipole pattern is likely driven by shifts in North Sea–Caspian Atmospheric pattern (NCP), which account for the present-day regional climate variability with NCP (+) leading to wetter and colder conditions in NE Peloponnese. The Asian monsoonal system likely has an additional impact on the δD variabilities through influencing the summer temperatures. There is a consistency between the Peloponnesian δD signals and monsoonal records after ca 4000 cal BP confirming the actualistic models. Strong monsoonal periods coincide with cooler summers (lower δD values) in Lerna, due to the northerly winds, the Etesians. On the contrary, SW Peloponnese is dominated by warmer conditions during the same periods as the area is located on the lee side of the mountain and highly influenced by the adiabatic warming associated with the subsidence over the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Read more about Climate changes in the Eastern Mediterranean over the last 5000 years and their links to the high-latitude atmospheric patterns and Asian monsoons
  • Evidence for distal transport of reworked Andean tephra

    2019. A. J. Monteath, P. D. M. Hughes, Stefan Wastegård. Quaternary Geochronology 51, 64-71


    Cryptotephra deposits (non-visible volcanic ash beds) may extend thousands of kilometres and provide valuable chronological isochrons. Here, we present a Lateglacial-early Holocene (c. 16,500 cal yr BP-6000 cal yr BP) tephrostratigraphy from Hooker's Point, East Falkland, South Atlantic. This period spans the last glacial termination across the southern mid-latitudes, a time period during which the palaeoenvironmental record is poorly resolved in southern South America and the South Atlantic. The development of a regional tephrostratigraphy will provide chronological constraint for palaeoenvironmental records from this period. Two cryptotephra deposits from Hooker's Point are linked with Mt. Burney, including the early-Holocene MB1 tephra, while a third is likely to be derived from the R-1 eruption of Reclus volcano. The high shard abundance of these cryptotephra deposits suggests they extend further into the Southern Ocean, and may act as regional stratigraphic markers during the Lateglacial. Further peaks in shard abundance are composed of detrital glass (tephra not derived from primary air fall events), with mixed shard morphologies and geochemically heterogeneous glass populations. This detrital glass is likely to have been repeatedly reworked by wind action in the Patagonian Steppe before final deposition in the Falkland Islands. The high abundance of detrital glass in the Hooker's Point sequence suggests long distance transport of reworked tephra is common in this region, and highlights the need to carefully analyse cryptotephra deposits in order to avoid incorrectly describing reworked tephra as new isochrons. A temporal pattern of shard abundance is apparent in the Hooker's Point sequence with a reduction/absence of shards between 14,300-10,500 cal yr BP.

    Read more about Evidence for distal transport of reworked Andean tephra
  • Effects of the peat acid digestion protocol on geochemically and morphologically diverse tephra deposits

    2019. Alistair J. Monteath (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 34 (4-5), 269-274


    Tephra shards for electron probe microanalysis are most efficiently extracted from peat using acid digestion, which removes organic material that hinders density separation methods. However, strong acids are known to alter glass chemical compositions, and several studies have examined how acid digestion affects rhyolitic volcanic glass. The focus on rhyolitic tephra in these studies leaves considerable uncertainty, as the dissolution rates of natural glasses (including tephra) are determined by the chemical composition and surface area/volume ratio, both of which vary in tephra deposits. Here, we use duplicate samples of basaltic, trachydacitic and rhyolitic tephra to examine physical and geochemical alteration following acid digestion. Scanning electron microscope imagery reveals no discernible degradation of glass surfaces, and electron probe microanalysis results from duplicate samples are statistically indistinguishable. These findings suggest the acid digestion protocol for organic peats does not significantly alter glass geochemistry regardless of shard morphologies or geochemical compositions.

    Read more about Effects of the peat acid digestion protocol on geochemically and morphologically diverse tephra deposits
  • Rhyolitic and dacitic component of the Askja 1875 tephra in southern and central Finland

    2019. Maarit Kalliokoski, Stefan Wastegård, Timo Saarinen. Journal of Quaternary Science 34 (1), 29-39


    Tephra from Icelandic volcanic eruptions is frequently dispersed to northern Europe, but so far tephra has not been detected in Finnish sedimentary records. We report the first finding of a cryptotephra layer in southern and central Finland. Sediment samples from five lakes and 10 peatlands, most of them located in the tephra fallout zone of the Hekla 1947 eruption, were investigated for the presence of cryptotephra to assess the potential for tephrochronology in Finland. Tephra shards were extracted from their host matrix and electron probe microanalysis was conducted on single shards for geochemical characterization. Our results confirm the presence of Askja 1875 tephra in Finland, thus extending the known dispersal area of the Askja 1875 tephra eastwards. Most of the shards are rhyolitic, but a minor concentration of tephra with dacitic composition forms a narrow dispersal zone extending from Sweden to southern Finland. This zone possibly represents the main dispersal axis of the tephra in the distal area. Our results suggest that Finnish environmental research could benefit greatly from adding tephrochronology to the array of dating methods commonly used. Additionally, the absence of Hekla 1947 tephra in the previously inferred fall-out zone is an important result indicating the complexity of tephra deposition and preservation.

    Read more about Rhyolitic and dacitic component of the Askja 1875 tephra in southern and central Finland
  • The Laacher See Tephra discovered in southernmost Sweden

    2018. Simon A. Larsson, Stefan Wastegård. Journal of Quaternary Science 33 (5), 477-481


    We present the first geochemically confirmed finding of the Laacher See Tephra (LST) on the Swedish mainland, now the northernmost extension of the LST. Sediments were sampled at the Korslattamossen fen, southernmost Sweden, and a high-concentration cryptotephra occurrence (>65000shardscm(-3)) of the LST was found in a sequence of calcareous gyttja. Tephra identification was confirmed by geochemical analysis using field-emission electron probe microanalysis and through comparison of the results with published LST data from proximal sites and distal sites north-east of Laacher See. The LST has previously been divided into eruption phases suggested to have spread in several dispersal fans, but it was not possible to confidently determine the phase of the tephra here closer than to the MLST or ULST. The finding of the LST presented here further strengthens the potential of tephrochronological studies in the south Scandinavian region.

    Read more about The Laacher See Tephra discovered in southernmost Sweden
  • Towards a Holocene tephrochronology for the Faroe Islands, North Atlantic

    2018. Stefan Wastegård (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 195, 195-214


    The Faroe Islands hold a key position in the North Atlantic region for tephra studies due to their relative proximity to Iceland. Several tephras have been described over the last 50 years in peat and lake sediment sequences, including the type sites for the Saksunarvatn and Mjauvotn tephras. Here we present a comprehensive overview of Holocene tephras found on the Faroe Island. In total 23 tephra layers are described including visible macrotephras such as the Saksunarvatn and Hekla 4 tephras and several cryptotephras. The importance of tephras originally described from the Faroe Islands is highlighted and previously unpublished results are included. In addition, full datasets for several sites are published here for the first time. The Saksunarvatn Ash, now considered to be the result of several eruptions rather than one major eruption, can be separated into two phases on the Faroe Islands; one early phase with two precursor eruptions with lower MgO concentrations (4.5-5.0 wt%) than the main eruption and a later phase with higher MgO concentrations (5.5-6.0 wt%), including the visible Saksunarvatn Ash. The Tjornuvik Tephra, previously considered to be a primary deposit, is now interpreted as a reworked tephra with material from at least two middle Holocene eruptions of Hekla. Several of the tephras identified on the Faroe Islands provide useful isochrons for climate events during the Holocene.

    Read more about Towards a Holocene tephrochronology for the Faroe Islands, North Atlantic
  • Compositions of glass in proximal tephras from eruptions in the Azores archipelago and their links with distal sites in Ireland

    2017. Hans Johansson, Ewa M. Lind, Stefan Wastegård. Quaternary Geochronology 40, 120-128


    The Azores archipelago is one of the most active volcanic areas in the North Atlantic region, with approximately 30 eruptions during the last 600 years. The geochemical composition of associated tephra-derived glass is, however, not well characterized. This study presents major element compositions of glass shards from five major eruptives on the Azores: a trachybasaltic eruptive on the island of Faial (Capelinhos AD, 1957) and four explosive trachytic eruptives on the island of Sao Miguel (Fogo A c. 5600 cal yrs. BP, Sete Cidades c. AD 1440, Fogo AD 1563 and Furnas AD 1630). The major element compositions suggest that tephras from three active stratovolcanoes on Sao Miguel, Sete Cidades, Fogo and Furnas, can be distinguished from one another using bi-plots of FeOtot vs. TiO2 and FeOtot vs. CaO. Late Holocene tephras found on Ireland have previously been attributed to eruptions occurring on Jan Mayen but possess a strong geochemical similarity to proximal tephras from the Azores, especially those from the Furnas volcano. The similarity of the proximal tephras on Sao Miguel, especially Furnas AD 1563 and Furnas AD 1630 and distal tephras in Ireland is demonstrated by strong similarity coefficients (>0.95) and the closeness of major element composition. The dominant wind direction over the Azores is favourable for tephra dispersal to western Europe and we suggest that at least three tephras found in Ireland were erupted from the Furnas volcano, and that trachytic tephras erupted from explosive eruptions on Sao Miguel have a potential to contribute to the construction of a European-wide tephrostratigraphic framework.

    Read more about Compositions of glass in proximal tephras from eruptions in the Azores archipelago and their links with distal sites in Ireland
  • The presence of Holocene cryptotephra in Wales and southern England

    2017. E. J. Watson (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 32 (4), 493-500


    There have been few detailed studies into the tephrostratigraphy of southern Britain. We report the tephrostratigraphy of two sites, one in southern England (Rough Tor, Cornwall) and one in Wales (Cors Fochno, west Wales). Our study extends the known southernmost reach of Icelandic cryptotephra in northern Europe. Given the large distance between sites in southern England and eruptive sources (e.g. Iceland 1500-1700km distant), most of the cryptotephra layers consist of sparse numbers of shards, even by the standards of distal tephrostratigraphy (as low as 3 shards cm(-1)), each layer spanning only 1 or 2cm in depth. We identify multiple cryptotephra layers in both sites, extending the known distribution of several tephra layers including the MOR-T4 tephra (approximate to AD 1000) most probably of Icelandic origin, and the AD 860 B tephra correlated to an eruption of Mount Churchill, Alaska. The two sites record contrasting tephrostratigraphies, illustrating the need for the inclusion of multiple sites in the construction of a regional tephrostratigraphic framework. The tephra layers we describe may provide important isochrons for the dating and correlation of palaeoenvironmental sequences in the south of Britain.

    Read more about The presence of Holocene cryptotephra in Wales and southern England
  • The 3.6 ka Aniakchak tephra in the Arctic Ocean

    2017. Christof Pearce (et al.). Climate of the Past 13 (4), 303-316


    The caldera-forming eruption of the Aniakchak volcano in the Aleutian Range on the Alaskan Peninsula at 3.6 cal kyr BP was one of the largest Holocene eruptions worldwide. The resulting ash is found as a visible sediment layer in several Alaskan sites and as a cryptotephra on Newfoundland and Greenland. This large geographic distribution, combined with the fact that the eruption is relatively well constrained in time using radiocarbon dating of lake sediments and annual layer counts in ice cores, makes it an excellent stratigraphic marker for dating and correlating mid-late Holocene sediment and paleoclimate records. This study presents the outcome of a targeted search for the Aniakchak tephra in a marine sediment core from the Arctic Ocean, namely Core SWERUS-L2-2-PC1 (2PC), raised from 57m water depth in Herald Canyon, western Chukchi Sea. High concentrations of tephra shards, with a geochemical signature matching that of Aniakchak ash, were observed across a more than 1.5m long sediment sequence. Since the primary input of volcanic ash is through atmospheric transport, and assuming that bioturbation can account for mixing up to ca. 10 cm of the marine sediment deposited at the coring site, the broad signal is interpreted as sustained reworking at the sediment source input. The isochron is therefore placed at the base of the sudden increase in tephra concentrations rather than at the maximum concentration. This interpretation of major reworking is strengthened by analysis of grain size distribution which points to ice rafting as an important secondary transport mechanism of volcanic ash. Combined with radiocarbon dates on mollusks in the same sediment core, the volcanic marker is used to calculate a marine radiocarbon reservoir age offset Delta R = 477 +/- 60 years. This relatively high value may be explained by the major influence of typically carbon-old Pacific waters, and it agrees well with recent estimates of Delta R along the northwest Alaskan coast, possibly indicating stable oceanographic conditions during the second half of the Holocene. Our use of a volcanic absolute age marker to obtain the marine reservoir age offset is the first of its kind in the Arctic Ocean and provides an important framework for improving chronologies and correlating marine sediment archives in this region. Core 2PC has a high sediment accumulation rate averaging 200 cm kyr(-1) throughout the last 4000 years, and the chronology presented here provides a solid base for high-resolution reconstructions of late Holocene climate and ocean variability in the Chukchi Sea.

    Read more about The 3.6 ka Aniakchak tephra in the Arctic Ocean
  • Climatic variability during the last millennium in Western Iceland from lake sediment records

    2016. Naomi Holmes (et al.). The Holocene 26 (5), 756-771


    The aim of this research was to create a decadal-scale terrestrial quantitative palaeoclimate record for NW Iceland from lake sediments for the last millennium. Geochemical, stable isotope and chironomid reconstructions were obtained from a lake sequence constrained by tephra deposits on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, western Iceland. Obtaining a quantitative record proved problematic, but the qualitative chironomid record showed clear trends associated with past summer temperatures, and the sedimentological records provided evidence for past changes in precipitation, mediated through catchment soil in-wash. When the full range of chronological uncertainty is considered, four clear phases of climatic conditions were identified: (1) a relatively warm phase between AD 1020 and 1310; (2) a relatively stable period between AD 1310 and 1510, cooler than the preceding period but still notably warmer than the second half of the millennium; (3) a consistent reduction of temperatures between AD 1560 and 1810, with the coolest period between AD 1680 and 1810; and (4) AD 1840-2000 has temperatures mainly warmer than in the preceding two centuries, with a rising trend and increased variability from c. AD 1900 onwards. The reconstructions show clearly that the first half of the millennium experienced warmer climatic conditions than the second half, with a return to the warmer climate only occurring in the last c. 100 years. Much of the variability of the chironomid record can be linked to changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The reconstructions presented can track low-frequency and long-term trends effectively and consistently but high-resolution and calibrated quantitative records remain more of a challenge - not just in finding optimal sedimentary deposits but also in finding the most reliable proxy. It is this that presents the real challenge for Holocene climate reconstruction from this key area of the North Atlantic.

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  • Detection of the Askja AD 1875 cryptotephra in Latvia, Eastern Europe

    2016. Normunds Stivrins (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 31 (5), 437-441


    We report the first geochemically confirmed findings of the Askja volcano (Iceland) AD 1875 eruption cryptotephra in Eastern Europe. The cryptotephra finding in Latvia is the easternmost finding of the Askja AD 1875 so far, providing an important time marker in the sediments. Although low concentrations of Askja AD 1875 rhyolitic glass shards were recorded, our findings suggest the possibility of also tracing other historical cryptotephras in lacustrine and peat sediments in Eastern Europe. We use the Askja AD 1875 tephra isochrone to synchronize pollen data of human activities, i.e. rye (Secale cereale) cultivation. Our comparison of Secale pollen from two sites reveals that there were minor dissimilarities in the timing of highest rye cultivation, and that a synchronous decrease of rye cultivation occurred at both sites few years after the Askja eruption at AD 1875.

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  • Diatom blooms and associated vegetation shifts in a subarctic peatland

    2016. U. Kokfelt (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 31 (7), 723-730


    We test the hypothesis that rich occurrences of diatoms observed at transitions between major peat units representing different vegetation communities in a peat sequence from subarctic northern Sweden reflect responses to acid deposition from the Samalas AD 1257 and Laki AD 1783/1784 eruptions. We observe sudden changes in the mire ecosystem and thereby in the trophic status and biogeochemical cycling of the peatland. Both the eruptions are known to have been associated with significant acid deposition events and climatic anomalies, as recorded in polar ice cores. To test the hypothesis, new chronological analyses and age modelling were applied to existing biogeochemical and biological records from the peat sequence. This approach yielded modelled age ranges of AD 1239-1284 (1s)/AD 1210-1303 (2s) (median: AD 1260) and AD 1674-1795 (1s)/AD 1665-1875 (2s) (median AD 1743), respectively, for the stratigraphic transitions. Hence, the modelled age ranges bracket the ages of the eruptions in question and the hypothesis could therefore not be rejected. Impacts of acid deposition from the eruptions are assumed to have caused instant acidification, vegetation damage, increased nutrient cycling and blooms of opportunistic epiphytic diatoms. In addition, cooling may have contributed to vegetation changes through permafrost inception, frost heave and thereby altered hydrological conditions.

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  • Revisiting the Borrobol Tephra

    2016. Ewa M. Lind (et al.). Boreas 45 (4), 629-643


    The Borrobol Tephra has been identified as one of the key tephra horizons for the Lateglacial time period but it also exemplifies many of the promises and problems of tephrochronology. Additional horizons with similar major element composition and approximately the same age have been identified around the North Atlantic region. Here, we revisit the Borrobol Tephra identified at two Swedish sites, Hasseldala port and Skallahult, and also the Borrobol type-site in Scotland. We present the first set of minor element data (trace and rare earth analyses) along with new analyses of major elements from these three sites. The analysed minor and the trace elements have a similar signature; however, the glass from the Scottish type-site seems to imply two populations. To answer if this truly represents two populations, or if it reflects magmatic differentiation additional and larger data sets of minor elements are needed. The new major elements are compared to other Borrobol-type tephras identified in the North Atlantic region. Our results are in line with earlier investigations, which showed no differences in major elements. Further, comparison of minor elements from glass analyses from our sites with those for eruptions associated with Icelandic central volcanoes implies an Icelandic origin for the Borrobol-type tephras.

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  • The contribution of tephra constituents during biogenic silica determination

    2015. W. Clymans (et al.). Biogeosciences 12 (12), 3789-3804


    Biogenic silica (BSi) is used as a proxy by soil scientists to identify biological effects on the Si cycle and by palaeoecologists to study environmental changes. Alkaline extractions are typically used to measure BSi in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. The dissolution properties of volcanic glass in tephra deposits and their nanocrystalline weathering products are hypothesized to overlap those of BSi; however, data to support this behaviour are lacking. The potential that Si-bearing fractions dissolve in alkaline media (Si-Alk) that do not necessarily correspond to BSi brings the applicability of BSi as a proxy into question. Here, analysis of 15 samples reported as tephra-containing allows us to reject the hypothesis that tephra constituents produce an identical dissolution signal to that of BSi during alkaline extraction. We found that dissolution of volcanic glass shards is incomplete during alkaline dissolution. Simultaneous measurement of Al and Si used here during alkaline dissolution provides an important parameter to enable us to separate glass shard dissolution from dissolution of BSi and other Si-bearing fractions. The contribution from volcanic glass shards (between 0.2 and 4 wt % SiO2), the main constituent of distal tephra, during alkaline dissolution can be substantial depending on the total Si-Alk. Hence, soils and lake sediments with low BSi concentrations are highly sensitive to the additional dissolution from tephra constituents and its weathering products. We advise evaluation of the potential for volcanic or other non-biogenic contributions for all types of studies using BSi as an environmental proxy.

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  • Faroe Marine Ash Zone IV

    2014. Stefan Wastegård, Tine L. Rasmussen. Gas Generation and Migration in Deep Geological Radioactive Waste Repositories, 81-93


    A basaltic tephra layer from MIS 3 has been discovered by analysis of cores from the Faroe Islands margin. The tephra layer appears up to 20 cm thick in some records. After the first main fall-out event the tephra is believed to be mainly deposited and redistributed by bottom currents. Geochemical analyses suggest that the tephra is relatively undisturbed by allochtonous tephra grains and unmixed. The peak occurrences are in the lower part of GIS (Greenland Interstadial) 12 and we suggest naming this new tephra Faroe Marine Ash Zone IV (FMAZ IV), following the nomenclature adopted for previous ash zones found on the Faroe Islands margin. Geochemical analyses of the tephra show affinities with the Grimsvotn volcanic system in the Eastern Volcanic Zone in south Iceland. The average age of FMAZ IV from four independent age models is 46 800 +/- 1000 years BP. We suggest that the V5 ash zone, found on the Reykjanes Ridge is a correlative to the FMAZ IV.

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  • Identification of a MIS 6 age (c. 180 ka) Icelandic tephra within NE Atlantic sediments

    2014. F. D. Hibbert (et al.). Gas Generation and Migration in Deep Geological Radioactive Waste Repositories, 65-80


    The incidence of volcanic ash (tephra) within marine sediments serves as a useful stratigraphic marker and tool for correlation. In addition, where an independent age estimate exists, tephra layers can provide a means of dating the sediments themselves. Here we present a geochemically characterized, size sorted tephra layer within Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6, most likely resulting from primary air-fall from an Icelandic volcanic source. This tephra layer is tentatively correlated to the Kerlingarfjoll volcanic system using major element geochemistry. The ash layer has an interpolated age of 181 +/- 6 ka based on the age model for MD04-2822. We briefly review the occurrence of silicic tephra in the North Atlantic region from MIS 7 to MIS 5e inclusive and find potential correlatives to the MD04-2822 MIS 6 ash layer in the Norway Basin and Irminger Sea.

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  • Lateglacial cryptotephra detected within clay varves in Ostergotland, south-east Sweden

    2014. A. Macleod (et al.). Journal of Quaternary Science 29 (7), 605-609


    Here we present a 710-year-long floating varve record from south-east Sweden. Tephra analyses confirm the presence of the rhyolitic Vedde Ash preserved within two consecutive varve years, confirming the Younger Dryas age of the varve series. This permits, for the first time, direct correlation of Swedish varved clay with other records of equivalent resolution which also preserve the Vedde Ash and demonstrates that the potential exists to independently date the Swedish Timescale. This discovery will allow direct comparison of rates, timing and duration of key climatic events across Europe and the North Atlantic region in records of equivalent resolution.

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  • Re-evaluation and extension of the Marine Isotope Stage 5 tephrostratigraphy of the Faroe Islands region

    2014. P. M. Abbott (et al.). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 409, 153-168


    Previous studies of marine sequences from the Faroe Islands region have identified a series of coarse-grained tephra horizons deposited during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5. Here we reassess the MIS 5 tephrostratigraphy of the Faroe Islands region and focus on the cryptotephra deposits preserved within the fine-grained fraction of marine core LINK 16. We also extend the record to encompass the late MIS 6 and early MIS 4 periods. A density separation technique, commonly used for tephra investigations in lacustrine settings but rarely applied to marine sediments, is utilised to explore the fine-grained material and EPMA and LA-ICP-MS are employed to determine the major and trace element composition of individual tephra shards. In total, 3 basaltic and 3 rhyolitic Icelandic cryptotephra deposits with homogeneous geochemical compositions are identified - all of which have the potential to act as isochronous tie-lines. Geochemical results highlight that the Grimsvotn volcanic system of Iceland is the predominant source of the basaltic horizons and the Oraefajokull or Torfajokull systems are the likely sources of the rhyolitic deposits. Three of the horizons have been previously recognised in Faroe Islands region marine sequences, with two of these deposits traceable into a Norwegian Sea sequence. An early MIS 4 rhyolitic horizon is the most widespread deposit as it can be traced into the Norwegian Sea and to the south into a record from the Rockall Trough. Basaltic and rhyolitic horizons deposited during late MIS 6 have not been recognised in other sequences and represent new additions to the regional tephrostratigraphy.

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  • A Late Younger Dryas-Early Holocene tephrostratigraphy for Fosen, Central Norway

    2013. Ewa Lind, Stefan Wastegard, Jeppe J. Larsen. Journal of Quaternary Science 28 (8), 803-811


    A number of rapid climate oscillations occur during the Lateglacial-Early Holocene, 15-8 ka BP period and a well-developed tephrostratigraphy in association with these oscillations increases the possibilities to correlate climate archives around the North Atlantic. This paper presents a tephrostratigraphy for Fosen peninsula, Central Norway. Both the Vedde Ash ca.12.1 ka BP and the Saksunarvatn Ash approximate to 10.3 ka BP are important isochrones for correlations of Late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental records in the North Atlantic region and have been assigned ages in GICC05. Beside these tephras we have also identified a new tephra, the Fosen Tephra, with a Borrobol-type geochemistry that occurs above both the Vedde Ash and the Saksunarvatn Ash with an age approximate to 10.2 ka BP. Several tephras with Borrobol-type geochemistry have been identified around the North Atlantic. One group is the Borrobol/Penifiler tephras dated to Greenland Interstadial-1 and another group is dated to the Early Holocene. We suggest that some of the Early Holocene Borrobol-type tephras and the Fosen Tephra may actually be the same layer. If so, the Fosen Tephra is spread over a large area of the North Atlantic and has the potential to become an important marker for short-term climate variability in Scandinavia and in the northern hemisphere.

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  • A Lateglacial-early Holocene tephrochronology for SW Sweden

    2013. Carl Lilja (et al.). Boreas 42 (3), 544-554


    Four cores from southwestern Sweden are presented together with their tephra geochemistry. Two cryptotephra horizons were confirmed geochemically in the cores, the Vedde Ash and the Hässeldalen Tephra. The Lateglacial Hässeldalen Tephra (11 360–11 300 cal. a BP) offers great potential as a regional isochrone to add a new degree of certainty to the deglaciation chronology of southern Sweden, including the extent of glacial Lake Bolmen. In addition, the geographical distribution of the Hässeldalen Tephra has recently been extended outside of Sweden, making it an important time-marker horizon in northern Europe. There are potential difficulties, however. Proper identification of the actual isochrone is complicated by the vertical pattern of shard distribution, which could be the result of several eruptive events, as well as by the fact that shards from the 10-ka Askja horizon (10 500–10 350 cal. a BP) were found in close stratigraphical proximity. The geochemical data presented are the result of improved EPMA methodology, which significantly reduces sodium mobilization. The results therefore have slightly altered values, which has consequences for classifying new finds when they are compared with previous data for geochemically similar tephras. Finally, potential indications of the Borrobol/Penifiler horizon are presented, although the existence of the horizon could not be confirmed geochemically. This highlights the need to retrieve cores from different locations within a basin based on an analysis of basin morphology if horizons are to be located.

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  • Towards a late Quaternary tephrochronological framework for the southernmost part of South America - the Laguna Potrok Aike tephra record

    2013. Stefan Wastegård (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 71, 81-90


    A total of 18 tephra samples have been analysed from the composite sediment sequence from Site 2 of the Laguna Potrok Aike ICDP expedition 5022 from southern Patagonia, Argentina, which extends back to ca 51 ka cal BP. Analyses of the volcanic glass show that all layers but one are rhyolitic in composition, with SiO2 contents ranging between ca 74.5 and 78 wt% and suggest an origin in the Austral Andean Volcanic Zone (AVZ; 49-55 degrees S). Nonetheless, two main data clusters occur, one group with K2O contents between ca 1.5 and 2.0 wt%, indicating an origin in the Mt. Burney volcanic area, and one group with K2O contents between ca 2.7 and 3.9 wt%, tentatively correlated with Viedma/Lautaro and the Aguilera volcanoes in the northern part of the AVZ. The early Holocene Tephra, MB1 and the late Pleistocene Reclus R-1 tephra occur in the upper part of the sequence. Periods with significant tephra deposition occurred between ca 51-44 ka cal BP, and ca 31-25 ka cal BP, with a decrease in tephra layer frequency between these two periods.

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  • Recommendations for using XRF core scanning as a tool in tephrochronology

    2012. Malin M Kylander (et al.). The Holocene 22 (3), 371-375


    X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanning is a relatively new arrangement of a classic analytical technique which allows for non-destructive, in situ XRF analysis of sediment cores from submillimetre resolution upwards. In this contribution we explore the use of XRF core scanning for tephrochronology based on the analysis of three gyttja-rich sediment cores from the Faroe Islands. Using a combination of optical and radiographic images, analytical parameters and elemental profiles (Si, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Fe, Sr and Zr), higher concentration basaltic tephra layers (>1000 shards/cm3) were positively identified. The XRF core scanning did not capture the lower concentration (<850 shards/cm3) rhyolitic layers found in the core. The elemental data generated for the detected tephra layers using XRF core scanning was not comparable to individual shard analysis by electron microprobe. We recommend using XRF core scanning for tephra screening in order to localize depths for high-resolution subsampling and to avoid depths where sediment mixing has caused tailing/mixing of the tephra signal. At the studied site the basaltic Saksunarvatn ash as well as a tephra belonging to the Askja-S/10 ka eruption were identified.

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