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U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 758

Digital Database of the Holocene Tephras of the Mono-Inyo Craters, California

By Marcus Bursik and Kerry Sieh

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (100 kB)Introduction

This digital product comprises a collection of age and isopach data for the Holocene tephras of the Mono-Inyo Craters, California. Data on the most recent eruptions from this volcanic chain are relatively comprehensive, getting less so the further back in time. For the most recent eruptions to about 1,500 years ago, tephra beds within separate eruptive sequences have been studied and isopached. Before this, from about 2,000 years ago to about 5,000 years ago, there are insufficient data for isopaching. However, one isolated tephra of about 9,000 years ago was studied and isopached in detail.

Regarding ages, there are many tens of radiocarbon ages that have been obtained on the Holocene Mono-Inyo volcanic products. The vast majority of these radiocarbon dates are associated with tephras at locales that can be considered distal (basically where the primary tephra is less than several centimeters (cm) thick). These dates represent carbon that was sequestered perhaps within several hundred years of the eruption but do not represent the ages of separate eruptive pulses. There are two reasons for this. In some cases, it is clear that the dated material is not associated with the eruption products. This is the case in some lake strata where carbon is either not physically close to a given tephra layer or where an age for a tephra layer was obtained by interpolation assuming a sedimentation rate. In other cases, it is not clear that a given tephra layer represents a primary tephra; in such cases the layer could instead be redeposited. At most distal localities (beyond about 5 kilometers (km) from the chain), there was no record made of whether tephra was primary or redeposited, and at these distances where tephra is thin, it is generally redeposited during later events such as fires or thunderstorms. These age data are not appropriate for use in dating the eruptive history of the volcanic chain, and are therefore not included in the present contribution.

The carbon age data in the present contribution were obtained by careful consideration of the material being collected. In the best instances, carbon was collected from new growth on plants that were probably killed by an eruption event through burning and burial. Slightly poorer data were collected from burned and buried forest duff that is renewed frequently. Finally, some dates for older Holocene tephra layers at Black Lake, Nevada, downwind of the Mono-Inyo Craters, appear to allow correlation of the layers to proximal occurrences. In cases where these poorer data were collected but yielded ages statistically indistinguishable from better data, the poorer data were included in the analysis. In the most difficult cases, usually the furthest back in time, poorer data that were nevertheless statistically indistinguishable were weighted together to generate the age estimate.

There are some known Holocene eruptions from the Mono-Inyo Craters that are not included in this tabulation, as so far a tephra has not been associated with the eruptions. A good example of this is the Java blocks. The Java block eruption, from a vent underlying the northwestern corner of Negit Island in Mono Lake, expelled numerous blocks that were rafted within the lake and that are mostly deposited on the southwestern and northern lakeshore. No tephra that can be correlated to this deposit has been found, and therefore the eruption is not included in this tabulation.

First posted March 28, 2013

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Volcano Science Center, California Volcano Observatory
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Menlo Park, CA 94025

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Suggested citation:

Bursik, M., and Sieh, K., 2013, Digital database of the Holocene tephras of the Mono-Inyo Craters, California: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 758. (Available at



Data Description

KML Tag Structure

CSV File Structure

Mono-Inyo Database



data files

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