How reliable is µXRF core scanning at detecting tephra layers in sedimentary records? A case study using the Lake Suigetsu archive (central Japan)

Danielle McLean*, Paul G. Albert, Gordon Schlolaut, Henry F. Lamb, Michael H. Marshall, Achim Brauer, Jon Wade, Takeshi Nakagawa, Victoria C. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Here, we evaluate the ability of micro X-ray fluorescence (µXRF) core scanning to identify non-visible volcanic ash (cryptotephra) layers in sedimentary records. Its suitability is assessed using the annually resolved lacustrine sediments of Lake Suigetsu (Japan) for which there is high-resolution ITRAX µXRF core scanning data, and a detailed crypto-tephrostratigraphy (formerly established via density separation techniques). The studied core sections contain 10 visible and 30 cryptotephra markers that span a range of glass concentrations (from 1000 to >20 000 shards per gram of dried sediment) and compositions (basalts, trachy-andesites, phonolites, trachytes and rhyolites), thus providing an ideal case study. The ITRAX core scanner produced recognisable µXRF elemental responses for the visible ash layers, including those just 1 mm thick. However, just 10% of the cryptotephra layers could be unequivocally identified. Although this study demonstrates that µXRF core scanning should not be used as an independent method within a similar geological setting, we show it can provide a powerful tool alongside traditional techniques. Where detected, µXRF profiles can verify and refine cryptotephra positions (here to a sub-millimetre resolution), and help establish reworking signatures. These insights create possibilities for ultra-precise synchronisation of records, improved chronological modelling and help generate more complete eruption histories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1206
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Volume37
Issue number7
Early online date09 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2022

Keywords

  • ITRAX
  • Lake sediment
  • Lake Suigetsu
  • Tephra Detection
  • µXRF core scanning

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