Scottish early Holocene vegetation dynamics based on pollen and tephra records from Inverlair and Loch Etteridge, Inverness-shire

Thomas J. Kelly, Mark John Hardiman, Michael Lovelady, J. John Lowe, Ian P. Matthews, Simon P.E. Blockley

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    This paper presents the results of an investigation of early Holocene cryptotephra layers recovered from sediments in two kettle-hole basins at Inverlair (Glen Spean) and Loch Etteridge (Glen Fernisdale). Electron probe micro-analysis (EPMA) of shards from two cryptotephra layers revealed that the uppermost layer in both sequences has a composition similar to the An Druim tephra, first reported from a site in Northern Scotland. We present evidence that distinguishes the An Druim from the chemically very similar early Holocene Ashik tephra. The lowermost layer at Inverlair matches the composition of the Askja-S tephra found in the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. This is the first published record of the Askja-S tephra from mainland Scotland. As at other sites, the Askja-S seems to mark a short-lived climatic deterioration, most likely the Pre-Boreal Oscillation: at Inverlair it occurs just above an oscillation represented by a reduction in LOI values and in the abundance of Betula pollen, and by a peak in Juniperus pollen. The lowermost layer at Loch Etteridge has a Katla-type chemistry and extends through the upper part of the Loch Lomond (Younger Dryas/GS-1) Stadial to the Stadial/Holocene transition; it may represent a composite layer which merges the Vedde and Abernethy tephras. One of the key conclusions is that
    the glacial-melt deposits in the vicinity of Inverlair (kames and kame terraces) were ice-free by c.10.83 ka (the age of the Askja-S), providing a limiting age on the disappearance of LLR ice in Glen Spean.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-135
    JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
    Issue number1
    Early online date21 Mar 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


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