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Title: Geochemical and sedimentological investigations of Youngest Toba Tuff ashfall deposits
Author: Gatti, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 2732 6676
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2013
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The ~ 73 ka ‘super-eruption’ of the Toba caldera in Sumatra is the largest known eruption of the Quaternary. The products of this eruption, the Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT), have been implicated in global and regional climate deterioration with widespread ecological effects. In this thesis I study the YTT co-ignimbrite ashfall, in particular the mechanisms of transport, sedimentation and preservation of ash deposits. I use distal marine and terrestrial ash sediments: a) to estimate the volume of YTT ash fallout; b) to quantify variability in the geochemistry of YTT ash; c) to assess the reliability of YTT ash as a chronostratigraphic marker; and d) to determine local influences on the reworking of YTT ash deposits. Following the introductory chapters, I address topics a) and b) through detailed investigations of published physical and chemical evidence. Chapter three shows that particle size and sediment thickness do not decline exponentially with distance from the eruption vent, highlighting the limitations of current methods of volume estimation for co-ignimbrite super-eruptions. Chapter four analyses geochemical variation in 72 YTT samples, and reveals the signatures of magma chamber zonation and post-depositional alteration. I address topics c) and d) through fieldwork in six locations, and detailed analysis of ash samples from a wide variety of local depositional environments. Chapter five uses high-resolution stratigraphic analysis of the YTT layer in the Son Valley, India, to show that variable deposition and sediment reworking may compromise the reliability of the ash layer as an isochronous marker for interpreting archaeological sequences. Chapter six combines a new understanding of the mechanisms of reworking, using new data on microscopic characteristics of reworked ash at four sites in Malaysia to demonstrate the necessity of accounting for reworking in palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. I conclude that accurate analyses of distal ash deposits can reliably determine the chemical properties of the YTT eruption, and that a detailed understanding of deposition and reworking processes is essential to inference of the environmental impacts of super-eruptions.
Supervisor: Oppenheimer, Clive; Gibbard, Philip Sponsor: University of Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Youngest Toba Tuff ; Super-volcano ; Tephra ; India ; Malaysia ; Stratigraphy