Head the tephrochonology research group at the University of Oxford. My research focuses on tephrochonology, igneous petrology and volcanology. I use the composition of volcanic deposits (tephra) to: gain insight into magmatic processes; and correlate distal volcanic deposits to particular explosive eruptions so they can be used as chronostratigraphic markers in sedimentary records, including palaeoclimate and archaeological archives.

Current research projects:

  1. -Tephrostratigraphy and chronology of the Lake Suigetsu palaeoclimate archive.

  2. -Timescales of magmatic processes at Campi Flegrei caldera, Italy with Roberto Isaia (Vesuvius Observatory, INGV).

  3. -NERC funded project - Apatite as a quantitative tool for tephrochonology and magmatic evolution              with Madeleine Humphreys (Earth Sciences, University of Oxford) and Richard Brooker (Earth Sciences, University of Bristol).

  4. -The Toba supereruptions with Darren Mark (Ar isotope facility, SUERC), Nick Pearce (Aberystwyth University), Val Troll (Uppsala University, Sweden) and others.

  5. -RESET project (NERC funded) that is using tephra layers to precisely synchronise archeological sites and palaeoclimate records to understand how humans responded to rapid climate changes in the past (PI: John Lowe, Royal Holloway University of London)

Postdoctoral researchers:

Dr Paul Albert - RLAHA, University of Oxford - working on a Fell Fund project titled: Volcanic ash layers in the Chalco Basin sediments: a temporal record of volcanic activity in Mexico City and the key to obtaining a chronology for an important high-resolution palaeoclimatic record

PhD/DPhil students:

Mike Stock, Earth Sciences, University of Oxford - The record of magmatic processes preserved in apatite crystals.

Antony Hinchliffe, Ar isotope facility, SUERC - Timing of eruptions from Campi Flegrei

Victoria Cullen, RLAHA, University of Oxford - Tephrostratigraphy of the Caucasus

I also run our electron microprobe (JEOL 8600) that is equipped with 4 wavelength dispersive spectrometers and a silicon drift (electron dispersive spectrometer) detector. We performed well (Lab 25) in the recent interlab comparison that involved analysing numerous tephra samples, see

Kuehn, S.C., Froese, D.G., Shane, P.A.R. and Intercomparison Participants. 2011. The INTAV intercomparison of electron-beam microanalysis of glass by tephrochronology laboratories: Results and recommendations. Quaternary International, 246, pp 19-47. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.08.022


Research - Dr Victoria C. Smith