Tephrochronological dating of varved interglacial lake deposits from Piànico-Sèllere (Southern Alps, Italy) to around 400 ka

Achim Brauer*, Sabine Wulf, Clara Mangili, Andrea Moscariello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sediment record from the Piànico palaeolake in the southern Alps is continuously varved, spans more than 15 500 years, and represents a key archive for interglacial climate variability at seasonal resolution. The stratigraphic position of the Piànico Interglacial has been controversial in the past. The identification of two volcanic ash layers and their microscopic analysis provides distinct marker layers for tephrochronological dating of these interglacial deposits. In addition to micro-facies analyses reconstructing depositional processes of both tephra layers within the lake environment, their mineralogical and geochemical composition has been determined through major-element electron probe micro-analysis on glass shards. Comparison with published tephra data traced the volcanic source regions of the Piànico tephras to the Campanian volcanic complex of Roccamonfina (Italy) and probably the Puy de Sancy volcano in the French Massif Central. Available dating of near-vent deposits from the Roccamonfina volcano provides a robust tephrochronological anchor point at around 400 ka for the Piànico Interglacial. These deposits correlate with marine oxygen isotope stage (MIS) 11 and thus are younger than Early to Middle Pleistocene previously suggested by K/Ar dating and older than the last interglacial as inferred from macrofloral remains and the geological setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2006
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • micro-facies analyses
  • MIS 11
  • Piànico Interglacial
  • tephrochronology
  • varved lake sediments

Cite this