Bulletin of Volcanology

, 80:80 | Cite as

Widespread tephra layers in the Bering Sea sediments: distal clues to large explosive eruptions from the Aleutian volcanic arc

  • A. N. Derkachev
  • V. V. PonomarevaEmail author
  • M. V. Portnyagin
  • S. A. Gorbarenko
  • N. A. Nikolaeva
  • M. I. Malakhov
  • E. A. Zelenin
  • D. Nürnberg
  • Yanguang Liu
Research Article


Tephra layers within marine sediments provide information on past explosive eruptions, which is especially important in the case of remote island arcs where data on proximal pyroclastic deposits can be scarce. Three Alaska-Aleutian tephras (labeled Br2, SR2, and SR4) were found in the late Pleistocene-Holocene sediments of the Bering Sea (north Pacific). We fingerprint glass from these tephras with the help of single-shard electron microprobe and LA-ICP-MS analyses and provide microprobe data on minerals from two of these tephras. The large compositional variability of the Alaska-Aleutian volcanoes permits the use of ratios of highly incompatible trace elements (Ba/Nb, Th/Nb, Th/La, La/Nb) for identification of distal tephra sources by comparison of these ratios in tephra glass and proximal bulk rock analyses. This method, along with mapped tephra dispersal, has allowed us to link tephras under study to Aniakchak, Semisopochnoi, and Okmok volcanoes, respectively. Our results indicate that tephra Br2 was derived from the ~ 3.6 ka Aniakchak II caldera-forming eruption (Alaska, USA). This is the first ever finding of the Aniakchak II tephra in Bering Sea sediments, which permits enlargement of its tephra volume and eruption magnitude to ~ 100 km3 and 6.8, respectively. Tephra SR2, dated at ~ 12.2 ka, is likely associated with a post-glacial caldera on the Semisopochnoi Island, Aleutians (USA). Tephra SR4 (dated at ~ 64.5 ka), likely was derived from an earlier undocumented eruption from Okmok volcano (Aleutians). All three regionally spread tephra layers are valuable isochrones, which can be used for correlating and dating of Bering Sea sediments.


North Pacific Late Quaternary Marine tephrochronology Volcanic glass chemistry Electron microprobe LA-ICP-MS 



The tephra samples were obtained during cruises: (i) SO201-2 KALMAR (grant # 03G0672A and B) and SO249 BERING of R/V Sonne funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), (ii) Lv63 of R/V Akademik Lavrentiev supported by grants #41420104005 and #40710069004 from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). We acknowledge the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel for funding analytical studies and thank Mario Thöner (GEOMAR) for his assistance with EPMA, and Dieter Garbe-Schönberg and Ulrike Westernströer (both at Kiel University) for their assistance with LA-ICP-MS analyses. Visits by A.D. to Kiel for tephra analyses were funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) grant #11-05-00506 and the cooperative NSFC-RFBR grant #16-55-53048. We are grateful to Gene Yogodzinski for sharing his compilation of geochemical data on Aleutian rocks. Work on the manuscript was funded by the Russian Science Foundation grant #16-17-10035. We thank Kristi Wallace, Richard Brown, and Andrew Harris for their useful comments and English editing that substantially improved the quality of this manuscript.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.V.I. Il’ichev Pacific Oceanological InstituteVladivostokRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Volcanology and SeismologyPetropavlovsk-KamchatskyRussia
  3. 3.GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research KielKielGermany
  4. 4.V.I. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical ChemistryMoscowRussia
  5. 5.North-East Interdisciplinary Science Research InstituteMagadanRussia
  6. 6.Geological InstituteMoscowRussia
  7. 7.First Institute of Oceanography, SOAQingdaoChina

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