Royal Holloway and OXford TephrochrOnology Research network

The RHOXTOR research network was inaugurated in 2008 to create an integrated focus group dedicated to the analysis and application of tephra studies, with special application to Europe, North Africa and adjacent seas and to the Quaternary stratigraphical record. It brings together colleagues with tephrochronological, volcanological and related expertise from the departments of Earth Sciences and Geography, at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Department of Earth Sciences and the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA), at the University of Oxford. Once developed the RHOXTOR Database is intended to be a leading resource providing many of the European Quaternary tephra datasets that contain information on the find localities where tephra has been found, the timing of volcanic eruptions, major and minor element analytical geochemistry, plus associated reference to relevant publications.

Campanian ignimbrite

The aim is to optimise the use of tephra layers to further our understanding of a range of chronological and palaeoenvironmental issues. The successful interpretation of tephra layers requires expert knowledge of the volcanological context in which they were generated, their classification by geochemical analysis, the stratigraphical contexts in which they are found, and the taphonomic processes affecting all stages of dispersal and deposition. The core RHOXTOR Team members provide this essential inter-disciplinary focus, combining expertise in volcanology, high-precision geochemistry, Quaternarystratigraphy, tephrochronology, and a range of important cognate fields of study. Furthermore, an extensive network of associated, international collaborators has been established that provides access to key information from proximal sites in all of the main European volcanic provinces as well as additive expertise in important methods such as Ar-Ar dating.

KarymskyRHOXTOR’s remit is four-fold:
  1. to generate new and exciting inter-disciplinary research projects that address important questions which tephrochronological studies can help to solve;
  2. to develop appropriate quality assurance protocols that improve the detection, sampling, analysis and interpretation of tephra layers;
  3. to develop integrated and accessible data-bases that provide comprehensive information on the nature, geochemical characterisation, age and geographical distribution of tephra layers; and
  4. to provide a state-of-the-art training hub for postgraduate students.
The RHOXTOR network will also provide a useful focus and node for collaborating with related international initiatives concerned with promoting tephrostratigraphical studies, such as the INQUA-INTAV and INQUA-INTIMATE international focus groups, and to link with other relevant, international data-base sites (see RHOXTOR Links page).

The impetus behind RHOXTOR was the steadily increasing co-operation in recent years between Oxford and Royal Holloway in a number of major research programmes in which tephrostratigraphical studies were crucial. There are six major overlapping fields of inquiry which are set out on the RHOXTOR Topics pages.