A Laacher See-eruption supplement to Tephrabase

Riede, F., Bazely, O., Newton, A.J. and Lane C.S. (2011) A Laacher See-eruption supplement to Tephrabase: Investigating distal tephra fallout dynamics. Quaternary International 246(1-2), 134-144.

Over the last few years, tephra deposits originating from the Laacher See eruption (c. 13,000 years BP) have been used with increasing frequency as a tephrochronological marker in the context of both environmental as well as archaeological research (e.g., Blockley et al., 2007; Blockley et al., 2008; Blockley et al., 2008; Riede, 2007; Riede, 2008; Riede and Bazely, 2009). Although distal Laacher See tephra (LST) deposits have been known for a considerable time, current fall-out projections are most commonly based on pioneering work carried out in the 1980s (e.g., van den Bogaard and Schmincke, 1984; van den Bogaard and Schmincke, 1985), which drew on a total number of 40 published and unpublished data-points to provide a detailed phase-by-phase fall-out projection. The current total number of data-points assembled in this database is 367 with a focus on distal deposits (proximal deposits are known from many locales in the Rhineland region). This data-set is sunk into Tephrabase (Newton, 1996; Newton et al., 2007), shares its structure (Newton et al., 1997), and should be understood as a supplement to it because, as Newton et al. (2007: 740) pointed out, 'a database which will help establish a tephrochronological framework for Europe needs to include details of tephra layers erupted from non-Icelandic volcanic centres including the Eifel in Germany', amongst others.

The data on Laacher See tephra deposits are usually derived from published peer-reviewed sources, but a considerable amount has also been donated by Martin Theuerkauf (Greifswald University, Germany; see de Klerk et al., 2008; Theuerkauf, 2002; Theuerkauf, 2003) and Jaqueline Strahl (Landesamt fÃŒr Bergbau, Geologie und Rohstoffe Brandenburg, Germany; see Strahl, 2005). The aim is that authors continue to donate data to the database as and when it becomes available. The Tephrabase website offers a downloadable form on which data can be submitted. The part of Tephrabase concerned with the Laacher See eruption currently allows for country-specific searches and provides immediate geographic output. Each location is linked to the source reference. Information on distal Laacher See tephra deposits comes from rather heterogeneous source publications (palynological, geological, archaeological, pedological, etc.) and the availability of geochemical data is limited (but will be added in the future). While the bulk of the Laacher See data entries contain somewhat less information than those in other parts of Tephrabase, the Laacher See eruption is the only known eruption that deposited tephra in Northern Europe in the late Allerød chronozone (GI-1a, following Björck et al., 1998) around 13,000 BP and instances of misidentification of Laacher See tephra are therefore limited.

Our aim in putting together this database was to provide researchers with a tool for identifying areas likely to yield further tephra deposits and for investigating the fall-out characteristics of the distal LST. With the increasing availability of geochemical data the distribution of tephra from different eruption phases can now be investigated with greater confidence. In addition, this database can be used to derive deposition models as well as estimates of total fall-out volume and to further investigate its potential impact on Late Glacial climate, flora, fauna and hunter-gatherers. Our hope this that in making this data publically available further community efforts in LST studies are stimulated, which would lead to a better integration of the regional records of Late Glacial tephra deposition.

A full version of this database (as .xls) can be obtained by e-mailing Felix Riede (f.riede@hum.au.dk), Prehistoric Archaeology Section, Institute for Anthropology, Archaeology & Linguistics, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Felix Riede (2009)


Björck, S., Walker, M.J.C., Cwynar, L.C., Johnsen, S., Knudsen, K.-L., Lowe, J.J. and Wohlfarth, B., 1998. An Event Stratigraphy for the Last Termination in the North Atlantic Region based on the Greenland ice-core record: a proposal by the INTIMATE group Journal of Quaternary Science 13 (4), 283-292.

Blockley, S.P.E., Blaauw, M., Bronk Ramsey, C. and van der Plicht, H., 2007. Building and testing age models for radiocarbon dates in Lateglacial and Early Holocene sediments Quaternary Science Reviews 26, 1915-1926.

Blockley, S.P.E., Bronk Ramsey, C., Lane, C.S. and Lotter, A.F., 2008. Improved age modelling approaches as exemplified by the revised chronology for the Central European varved lake Soppensee Quaternary Science Reviews 27 (1-2), 61-71.

Blockley, S.P.E., Bronk Ramsey, C. and Pyle, D.M., 2008. Improved age modelling and high-precision age estimates of late Quaternary tephras, for accurate palaeoclimate reconstruction Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 177 (1), 251-262.

de Klerk, P., Janke, W., KÃŒhn, P. and Theuerkauf, M., 2008. Environmental impact of the Laacher See eruption at a large distance from the volcano: Integrated palaeoecological studies from Vorpommern (NE Germany) Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 270 (1-2), 196-214.

Newton, A.J., 1996. Tephrabase. A Tephrochronological Database Quaternary Newsletter 78, 8-13.

Newton, A.J., Dugmore, A.J. and Gittings, B.M., 2007. Tephrabase: tephrochronology and the development of a centralised European database Journal of Quaternary Science 22 (7), 737-743.

Newton, A.J., Gittings, B. and Stuart, N., 1997. Designing a scientific database Query Server using the World Wide Web: The example of Tephrabase. In: Z. Kemp (Ed.) Innovations in GIS 4, pp. 251-266. Tayler and Francis, London.

Riede, F., 2007. Der Ausbruch des Laacher See-Vulkans vor 12.920 Jahren und urgeschichtlicher Kulturwandel am Ende des Alleröd. Eine neue Hypothese zum Ursprung der Bromme Kultur und des Perstunien Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 16, 25-54.

Riede, F., 2008. The Laacher See-eruption (12,920 BP) and material culture change at the end of the Allerød in Northern Europe Journal of Archaeological Science 35 (3), 591-599.

Riede, F. and Bazely, O., 2009. Testing the 'Laacher See hypothesis': a health hazard perspective Journal of Archaeological Science 36 (3), 675-683.

Riede, F., Bazely, O., Newton, A.J. and Lane C.S. (2011) A Laacher See-eruption supplement to Tephrabase: Investigating distal tephra fallout dynamics, Quaternary International doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.06.029

Strahl, J., 2005. Zur Pollenstratigraphie des Weichselspätglazials von Berlin-Brandenburg Brandenburger geowissenschaftliche Beiträge 12 (1/2), 87-112.

Theuerkauf, M., 2002. Die Laacher See-Tephra in Nordostdeutschland: Paläoökologische Untersuchungen mit hoher zeitlicher und räumlicher Auflösung Greifswalder Geographische Arbeiten 26, 171-174.

Theuerkauf, M., 2003. Die Vegetation NO-Deutschlands vor und nach dem Ausbruch des Laacher See-Vulkans (12880 cal. BP) Greifswalder Geographische Arbeiten 29, 143-189.

van den Bogaard, P. and Schmincke, H.-U., 1984. The Eruptive Center of the Late Quaternary Laacher See Tephra Geologische Rundschau 73 (3), 933-980.

van den Bogaard, P. and Schmincke, H.-U., 1985. Laacher See Tephra: A widespread isochronous late Quaternary tephra layer in Central and Northern Europe Geological Society of America Bulletin 96 (12), 1554-1571.