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The aim of this paper is not to be comprehensive, but to provide a brief and timely general review of tephra studies and their methodologies, and to make a case for better linking tephra research to archaeology, all from a primarily Scandinavian perspective.
We argue that the identification of tephra in archaeological sediments should, in due time, become as routine as other types of geo-archaeological analyses, especially given that tephra cannot only act as a useful chronostratigraphic marker, but can also play a role in changing patterns of environmental and cultural change at the level of the site or the region.
If the aim is to make such studies of environmental change relevant to human societies the method attains its greatest utility if either reliable proxies of human activity can be identified alongside the tephra, or – better still – if the tephra itself can also be identified within relevant archaeological layers.the Borrobol Tephra) are only known from distal occurrences.In this way, the study of far-field tephra occurrences also feeds back into the basic study of the eruption frequency/magnitude behaviours of volcanic systems, which in turn has important implications for risk assessments in relation to future eruption events .In addition, this rise is also the result of increasingly precise and accurate geochemical methods for identifying or ‘fingerprinting’ particles from particular eruptions.
This is usually done via electron microprobe analysis or, occasionally, other analytical approaches.
Recent years have seen considerable advances in tephrochronology studies, especially regarding the detection of macroscopically invisible micro- or cryptotephras.