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Authors: Tomlinson, E. L.* 
Smith, V. C.* 
Albert, P. G.* 
Aydar, E.* 
Civetta, Lucia* 
Cioni, R.* 
Çubukçu, E.* 
Gertisser, R.* 
Isaia, Roberto* 
Menzies, M. A.* 
Orsi, Giovanni* 
Rosi, Mauro* 
Zanchetta, Giovanni* 
Title: The major and trace element glass compositions of the productive Mediterranean volcanic sources: Tools for correlating distal tephra layers in and around Europe
Issue Date: 2015
Series/Report no.: /118 (2015)
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.028
Keywords: Tephrochronology
Major and trace element
Discrimination diagrams
Abstract: The increasing application of cryptotephra studies is leading the identification of new tephra marker layers the sources of which in many cases may not be known or may be ambiguous. In this contribution, we discuss the controls on tephra geochemistry in the context of establishing the provenance of an unknown tephra layer. We use the RESET database (, which contains major and trace element data for a number of European silicic tephra erupted in the period 100 ka to ca 10 ka, to define new and modify existing tectonic setting discrimination diagrams for use with volcanic glass analyses. Bivariate plots of the elements Rb, Nb, Ta, Y and Th and K2O, SiO2, FeO and MgO can be used to identify tephra from different tectonic settings. New, detailed glass chemistry shows that tephra from the productive Neapolitan volcanic centres, Somma-Vesuvius (22e4 ka activity), Campi Flegrei (60e15 ka) and Ischia (75e20 ka), can be separated using major elements, CaOeSiO2, Na2O/K2OeCaO and CaOeMgO. In each of these centres, the tephrostratigraphic record is characterized by the repeated occurrence of similar glass compositions, punctuated by significant changes in magma chemistry. The glass compositions of successive eruptions from Campi Flegrei are similar but there is a significant change in the composition following the Campanian Ignimbrite, and there are comparable compositional changes at Ischia following the Monte Epomeo Green Tuff eruption and at Somma-Vesuvius following the Verdoline event. Distinguishing different tephras from a single volcanic centre is more problematic, and in some instances even impossible, without good chronological and stratigraphic control and/or high-resolution trace element glass data. At Somma-Vesuvius certain major elements can be used to separate glasses from the major chronological phases (Group 1 e Pomici di Base and Verdoline; Group 2 e Mercato and Avellino), but separating tephras within a single group on the basis of glass composition can be problematic.
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