Extending the Late Holocene White River Ash Distribution, Northwestern Canada

  • Stephen D. Robinson
Keywords: chronostratigraphy, Mackenzie Valley, peatlands, White River ash


Peatlands are a particularly good medium for trapping and preserving tephra, as their surfaces are wet and well vegetated. The extent of tephra-depositing events can often be greatly expanded through the observation of ash in peatlands. This paper uses the presence of the White River tephra layer (1200 B.P.) in peatlands to extend the known distribution of this late Holocene tephra into the Mackenzie Valley, northwestern Canada. The ash has been noted almost to the western shore of Great Slave Lake, over 1300 km from the source in southeastern Alaska. This new distribution covers approximately 540 000 km² with a tephra volume of 27 km³. The short time span and constrained timing of volcanic ash deposition, combined with unique physical and chemical parameters, make tephra layers ideal for use as chronostratigraphic markers.