Gehrels, M.J., Newnham, R.M., Lowe, D.J., Wynne, S., Hazell, Z.J. & Caseldine, C. (2008). Towards rapid assay of cryptotephra in peat cores: review and evaluation of selected methods. Quaternary International 178(1), 68-84
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/921
Peat bogs are highly effective archives for the preservation and detection of cryptotephra but the conventional methods used to detect these hidden, diminutive layers are destructive and can be time consuming. We briefly review methods that have been used for cryptotephra detection and evaluate the potential of a range of alternative reconnaissance methods, both non-destructive and destructive, to provide for more rapid examination of continuous cryptotephra content in peat cores. The techniques evaluated—magnetic susceptibility (MS), spectrophotometry, and X-ray fluorescence—are used to pick out compositional contrasts between tephra deposits and peat. Measurements of organic content are also evaluated as a potential guide to tephra content based on an inverse relationship. Although we find limitations to each method, particularly where deployed at the distal-most end of tephra dispersal, there is potential for all methods to be used in the detection of cryptotephra where time or material is limited. These methods can also provide additional sedimentological and stratigraphic information for studies of peat cores. However, where a reliable cryptotephra profile is required, we conclude that there is no quick or easy substitute for the conventional extraction-microscopy method.