Robust date for the Bronze Age Avellino eruption (Somma-Vesuvius): 3945 +/- 10 calBP (1995 +/- 10 calBC)

Jan Sevink*, Manfred J. van Bergen, Johannes van der Plicht, Hendrik Feiken, Carmela Anastasia, Annika Huizinga

*Corresponding author for this work

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We found Bronze Age lake sediments from the Agro Pontino graben (Central Italy) to contain a thin (2-3 cm) continuous tephra layer composed of lithics, crystals and minor volcanic glass. Tephrochronological and compositional constraints strongly suggest that this layer represents the Avellino pumice eruption, which has also been identified in Central Italian lake cores. Its provenance is corroborated by electron-microprobe analyses performed on juvenile pumice grains, showing that the tephra layer is probably the distal equivalent of the EU2 event of the Avellino eruption. We used multiple (14)C age estimations of two lacustrine sequences with intercalated tephra layer, from the western border zone (Migliara 44.5) and the centre of the former lake (Campo Inferiore), for in tandem dating of this eruption, employing the OxCal code, which yielded a robust age of 3945 +/- 10 calBP (1995 +/- 10 calBC). To date, this is the only study providing both a terminus post and terminus ante quem of this precision, also demonstrating the advantage of dating distal tephra layers in a clear stratigraphic context over proximal deposits in sequences with major stratigraphic hiatuses. Our new results underscore the importance of the Avellino tephra layer as a precise time marker for studies on the Early Bronze Age of Central Italy. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1046
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - May-2011


  • Agro Pontino
  • Avellino pumice eruption
  • (14)C dating
  • Early Bronze Age
  • Tephrochronology
  • Volcanic glass
  • BP
  • KA

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