First integrated tephrochronological record for the last ∼190 kyr from the Fucino Quaternary lacustrine succession, central Italy

Biagio Giaccio, Elizabeth M. Niespolo, Alison Pereira, Sebastien Nomade, Paul R. Renne, Paul G. Albert, Ilenia Arienzo, Eleonora Regattieri, Bernd Wagner, Giovanni Zanchetta, Mario Gaeta, Paolo Galli, Giorgio Mannella, Edoardo Peronace, Gianluca Sottili, Fabio Florindo, Niklas Leicher, Fabrizio Marra, Emma L. Tomlinson

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70 Scopus citations


We present the first integrated tephrochronological study (major and trace elemental glass composition, Sr and Nd isotope analyses, and 40Ar/39Ar dating) for the last one tenth (∼82 m) of the ∼900 m-thick Quaternary lacustrine succession of the Fucino Basin, the largest and probably only Central Apennine intermountain tectonic depression that hosts a continuous lacustrine succession documenting the Plio-Quaternary sedimentary history up to historical times. Major element glass compositions, determined using a wavelength-dispersive electron microprobe (WDS-EMPA), yielded the geochemical fingerprinting needed for a reliable identification of most of the 23 stratigraphically ordered tephra layers under investigation. These include tephra from Italian volcanoes such as Campi Flegrei, Etna, Colli Albani, Ischia, Vico, Sabatini, and undefined volcanic sources in the Neapolitan area and Latium region. The recognition of key Mediterranean marker tephra layers (e.g. X-5 and X-6) is supported by trace element data acquired by Laser Ablation Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). The Sr and Nd isotope compositions of selected layers where also determined for circumscribing the volcanic source of distal tephra and for supporting correlations with individual eruptive units. We also propose a new, more expeditious covariation diagram (CaO/FeOtot vs Cl) for identifying the volcanic source of trachytic to phonolitic and tephrytic to phonolitic tephra, that are the most common compositions of pyroclastic rocks from volcanoes of Campania and Latium regions. Finally, we present five new 40Ar/39Ar age determinations, including a new, analytically well-supported, and more precise 40Ar/39Ar age for the widespread Y-7 tephra, and the first 40Ar/39Ar age determinations for one tephra from the Sabatini volcanic district (∼126 ka) and one tephra from Neapolitan volcanic area (Campi Flegrei?; ∼159 ka). These newly dated tephra are widely dispersed (e.g. Monticchio, southern Italy, Adriatic Sea and Lake Ohrid, Macedonia-Abania) and have thus the potential to become important Mediterranean MIS 5 and MIS 6 tephrochronological markers. Altogether the new geochemical data and 40Ar/39Ar ages precisely constrain the chronology of the investigated Fucino succession spanning the last ∼190 ka. In light of these results and by considering that this sedimentary succession possibly extends back to ∼2 Ma, Fucino is likely to provide a very long, continuous tephrostratigraphic record for the Mediterranean area and become a key node in the dense network of tephra correlations of this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-234
Number of pages24
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


  • Ar/Ar geochronology
  • Central Mediterranean
  • Sr-Nd isotopes
  • Tephrochronology


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