Tephrochronology of the central Mediterranean MIS 11c interglacial (∼425–395 ka): New constraints from the Vico volcano and Tiber delta, central Italy

Alison Pereira, Lorenzo Monaco, Fabrizio Marra, Sébastien Nomade, Mario Gaeta, Niklas Leicher, Danilo M. Palladino, Gianluca Sottili, Hervé Guillou, Vincent Scao, Biagio Giaccio

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Through a systematic integrated approach, which combined lithostratigraphic, geochronological and geochemical analyses of tephra from near-source sections of the peri-Tyrrhenian volcanoes and mid to distal settings, here we provide an improved tephrochronological framework for the Marine Isotope Stage 11c interglacial (MIS 11c, ∼425–395 ka) in the Central Mediterranean area. Specifically, we present the complete geochemical dataset and new high-precision 40Ar/39Ar ages of the previously poorly characterized earliest pyroclastic products of the Vico volcano (420–400 ka), including the Plinian eruptions of Vico α and Vico β and the immediately post-dating lower magnitude explosive events. Furthermore, we also provide new geochronological and geochemical data for the distal tephra layers preserved in the aggradational succession of the Tiber delta (San Paolo Formation), Roman area, which records sea level rise relating to the MIS 12 (glacial) to MIS 11 (interglacial) transition. Five pyroclastic units were recognized in Vico volcanic area, four out of which, Vico α, Vico β, Vico βtop (a minor eruption immediately following Vico β and temporally very close to it) and Vico δ were directly dated at 414.8 ± 2.2 ka, 406.5 ± 2.4 ka, 406.4 ± 2.0 ka and 399.7 ± 3.2 ka respectively (2σ analytical uncertainties). These new data allow a critical reappraisal of the previously claimed identifications of Vico tephra from mid-distal to ultra-distal successions (i.e., Vico-Sabatini volcanic districts, Roman San Paolo Formation and Castel di Guido archaeological site, Sulmona Basin, Valdarno and Lake Ohrid), which were unavoidably biased by the poor and incomplete geochemical and geochronological reference datasets previously available. Such an improvement of the tephrochronological framework brings great benefits to any future investigations (e.g., paleoclimatology, archaeology, active tectonic, volcanology) in the dispersal areas of the studied eruptions at the key point in time that is MIS 11.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106470
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Ar/Ar
  • Central mediterranean
  • MIS 11c interglacial
  • Tephrochronology
  • Vico volcano

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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