Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15024
Tephrochronology is a correlational and age-equivalent dating method whereby practitioners characterize, map, and date tephra (or volcanic ash) layers and use them stratigraphically as connecting and dating tools in the geosciences (including volcanology) and in studies of past environments and archaeology. Modern tephra studies per se began around 100 years ago (in the 1920s), but the first collective of tephrochronologists with a common purpose and nascent global outlook was not formed until 7 September 1961 in Warsaw, Poland. On that date, the inaugural “Commission on Tephrochronology” (COT) was ratified under the aegis of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA). The formation of COT is attributable largely to the leadership of Kunio Kobayashi of Japan, the commission's president for its first 12 years. We were motivated to record and evaluate the function and importance of COT because tephrochronology continues to grow globally and its heritage needs to be understood, appreciated, and preserved. In addition, studies on cryptotephras, which are fine-grained glass-shard and/or crystal concentrations preserved in sediments or soils but insufficiently numerous to be visible as a layer to the naked eye, have also expanded dramatically in recent times. Therefore, in this article, we review the role and impacts of COT under the umbrella of INQUA for 53 of the last 60 years or under IAVCEI (International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior) for 7 of the last 60 years, including since 2019. The commission also functioned under other names (abbreviated as COTS, CEV, ICCT, COTAV, SCOTAV, and INTAV; see Table 2 for definitions). As well as identifying key persons of influence, we describe the development of the commission, its leaders, and its activities, which include organizing nine specialist tephra field meetings in seven different countries. Members of the commission have participated in numerous other conferences (including specialist tephra sessions) or workshops of regional to international scale, and they have played leading roles in international projects such as INTIMATE (INTegrating Ice-core, MArine and TErrestrial records) and SMART (Synchronising Marine And ice-core Records using Tephrochronology). As well as strongly supporting early-career researchers including graduate students, the commission has generated 10 tephra-themed journal volumes and two books. It has published numerous other articles including field guidebooks, reports, and specialist internet documents/sites. Although its fortunes have ebbed as well as flowed, the commission began to prosper after 1987 when key changes in leadership occurred. COT has blossomed further, especially in the past decade or so, as an entire new cohort of specialists, including many engaged in cryptotephra studies, has emerged alongside new geoanalytical and dating techniques or protocols to become a vibrant global group today. We name 29 elected officers who have been involved with COT since 1961 as well as 15 honorary life members. After reviewing the aims of the commission, we conclude by evaluating its legacies and by documenting current and future work.
Copernicus Gesellscharf MBH
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.