High-precision ultra-distal Holocene tephrochronology in North America

Sean D.F. Pyne-O'Donnell, Paul D.M. Hughes, Duane G. Froese, Britta J. L. Jensen, Stephen C. Kuehn, Gunnar Mallon, Matthew J. Amesbury, Dan J. Charman, Tim J. Daley, Neil J. Loader, Dmitri Mauquoy, F. Alayne Street-Perrott, Jonathan Woodman-Ralph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Far-travelled volcanic ashes (tephras) from Holocene eruptions in Alaska and the Pacific northwest have been traced to the easternmost extent of North America, providing the basis for a new high-precision geochronological framework throughout the continent through tephrochronology (the dating and correlation of tephra isochrons in sedimentary records). The reported isochrons are geochemically distinct, with seven correlated to documented sources in Alaska and the Cascades, including the Mazama ash from Oregon (~7600 years old) and the eastern lobe of the White River Ash from Alaska (~1150 years old). These findings mark the beginning of a tephrochronological framework of enhanced precision across North America, with applications in palaeoclimate, surface process and archaeological studies. The particle travel distances involved (up to ~7000 km) also demonstrate the potential for continent-wide or trans-Atlantic socio-economic disruption from similar future eruptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2012


  • palaeoclimate
  • volcanic ash
  • tephra
  • ultra-distal tephrochronology
  • cryptotephra
  • Newfoundland
  • geochronology
  • EPMA geochemistry
  • holocene


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