Tephrabase: A Tephrochronological Database

Tephra (volcanic ash) layers are now an invaluable tool in palaeoenvironmental studies, as well a record of volcanic activity. The data produced by such research can be difficult to handle and disseminate. Tephrabase is a database of tephra layers found in Iceland, north-west and northern Europe, Russia and central Mexico. Details on the location, name, age and geochemistry of tephra layers are stored in the database, as well as information about relevant volcanoes and volcanic systems. A comprehensive reference database is also included. A new Laacher See supplementary data collection has been added.

Tephrabase has been redesigned. I hope that this makes it easier to get at the data you want to find. This is on an ongoing process and new features, including the automatic creation of tephrostratigraphic profiles and calculations of sediment accumulation rates for Iceland locations will be added shortly.

The data stored in Tephrabase can be broadly divided into five main categories. As Tephrabase develops these will change and it is hoped that connections can also be made to other online systems.

  • Publications: Tephrabase has a frequently updated publications database (over 2600 entries) and all of the data in the database are linked to publications. Use this to search on keywords, authors or by year.
  • Iceland/Europe: Tephrabase was originally developed as a source of information about Icelandic tephra layers and currently has details of over 2700 Icelandic-derived tephra layers found at over 300 sites in Iceland and Europe, as well as over 3000 major element analyses.
  • Laacher See: This supplement to Tephrabase was developed with Felix Riede and contains details of over 430 sites where the c. 13 ka BP Laacher See tephra has been found and 16 locations with geochemical data.
  • Central Mexico: Tephrabase also includes details of some 16 sites, with 53 tephra layers (over 700 geochemical analyses) in central Mexico.
  • Tephramap: the locations of all sites in the database are shown on maps: sites in Europe (including tephra sites and Icelandic volcanic systems) and in Mexico.

Latest Updates

Michoacán Tephra Layers, Mexico

Details of the tephra layers published in "Newton, A.J., Metcalfe, S.E., Davies, S.J., Cook, G.T., Barker, P. and Telford, J.T. 2005 Late Quaternary and Holocene volcanic record preserved in lakes of Michoacan, central Mexico. Quaternary Science Reviews 24 91-104" have been uploaded. This includes 32 tephras from 5 sites and 226 major element microprobe analyses.[28/07/2014]

Skaftatunga Tephra Layers, Iceland

Details on 2606 tephra layers have been added from over 200 profiles have been added to Tephrabase. These came out of Richard Streeter's PhD project and full details of the results can be read in "Streeter, R. and Dugmore, A. (2014) Late-Holocene land surface change in a coupled social ecological system, southern Iceland: a cross-scale tephrochronology approach. Quaternary Science Reviews 86, 99-114". A further 208 geochemical analyses of a selection of these layers has also been uploaded. [28/07/2014]

Norwegian Tephra Layers

Details of 26 tephra layers found at Borge on the Loftoten Islands, Norway. This includes over 200 geochemical analyses. More details can be found in Pilcher, J., Bradley, R. S., Francus, P. and Anderson, L. (2005) A Holocene tephra record from the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway. Boreas 34, 136-156. [30/07/2014]

Donate Data to Tephrabase

In order to help people donate data to Tephrabase, I have created a Word file (form) or PDF file which contain details about the data required. Please download either of the files and either fill in the form or use them to help you include all the information required. Any comments or questions welcome. Please email any data to me, anthony.newton@ed.ac.uk. I intend to create a more flexible online system in the future.