Tephrostratigraphy, chronology and climatic events of the Mediterranean basin during the Holocene: An overview

G Zanchetta, R Sulpizio, N Roberts, R Cioni, Warren Eastwood, G Siani, B Caron, M Paterne, R Santacroce

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136 Citations (Scopus)


The identification and characterisation of high-frequency climatic changes during the Holocene requires natural archives with precise and accurate chronological control, which is usually difficult to achieve using only C-14 chronologies. The presence of time-spaced tephra beds in Quaternary Mediterranean successions represents an additional, independent tool for dating and correlating different sedimentary archives. These tephra layers are potentially useful for resolving long-standing issues in paleoclimatology and can help towards correlating terrestrial and marine paleoclimate archives. Known major tephras of regional extent derive from central and southern Italy, the Hellenic Arc, and from Anatolia. A striking feature of major Holocene tephra deposition events in the Mediterranean is that they are clustered rather than randomly distributed in time. Several tephra layers occurred at the time of the S1 sapropel formation between c. 8.4 and 9.0 ka BP (Mercato, Gabellotto-Fiumebianco/E1, Cappadocia) and other important tephra layers (Avellino, Agnano Monte Spina, 'Khabur' and Santorini/Thera) occurred during the second and third millennia BC, marking an important and complex phase of environmental changes during the mid-to late-Holocene climatic transition. There is great potential in using cryptotephra to overlap geographically Italian volcanic ashes with those originating from the Aegean and Anatolia, in order to connect regional tephrochronologies between the central and eastern Mediterranean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-52
Number of pages20
JournalThe Holocene
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • tephrochronology
  • tephrostratigraphy
  • paleoclimate
  • Mediterranean basin
  • Holocene


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