• cryptotephra;
  • Iceland;
  • isochrons;
  • palaeoclimatic correlation;
  • volcanic ash


The Eemian interglacial and the onset of the subsequent glacial period serve as the most recent analogue for the natural operation of the climate system during the current interglacial. Pronounced climatic oscillations occurred during this period, but their nature and pattern are poorly understood due to dating limitations and unknown phase relationships between different regions and archives. Tephrochronology offers considerable potential for precise correlation of disparate palaeoclimatic archives preserving evidence of these rapid climatic transitions through the tracing of common isochronous tephra horizons. We outline the identification of three previously unknown cryptotephra horizons within a marine core from the Rockall Trough, North East Atlantic. This sequence preserves a high-resolution record of this interval and shard size, geochemical heterogeneity and the co-variance of shard concentrations with ice-rafted debris data are utilized to demonstrate that primary airfall was the most likely transport and depositional pathway. The main geochemical populations of these horizons have similar transitional alkali major and trace element compositions, suggesting that they were derived from a common Icelandic source, potentially the Öræfajökull volcanic system. These tephra horizons represent additions to the North Atlantic event stratigraphy for this period and tentative correlations to Icelandic terrestrial deposits are proposed for two horizons.