Results of the Tephra 2014 Workshop on Maximizing the Potential of Tephra for Multidisciplinary Science

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Stephen Christopher Kuehn, Concord University, Athens, WV, United States, Solene Pouget, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, United States, Kristi Wallace, USGS Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK, United States and Marcus I Bursik, SUNY Buffalo, Department of Geology, Buffalo, NY, United States
The Tephra 2014 Workshop was convened 3-7 August, 2014, to discuss major developments, best practices, and future directions/needs in tephra studies from both volcanological and tephrochronological perspectives. By bringing together an international group of over 70 scientists with a variety of backgrounds who study tephra for different purposes, our hope was to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration and data sharing. To provide training, the workshop also incorporated hands-on sessions on optimal sample collection and treatment, dispersal modeling, and the use of databases. Volcanologists, tephrochronologists, archaeologists, paleoclimatologists, paleoecologists, paleolimnologists, petrologists, geochronologists, tectonophysicists, Quaternary scientists, atmospheric scientists, data managers, and others who work with tephra were represented.

During three days of presentation and discussion, tephra scientists discussed challenges, opportunities and solutions in studies ranging from physical volcanology to archeology. A consensus-seeking session was held at the end of the meeting, in which the current state of the science and emergent issues were raised. Most of the discussion in the session revolved around formulating common best practices among the different scientific communities and establishing common data archiving and retrieval mechanisms. Best practices were discussed in terms of sample collection and laboratory treatment. It was felt that a starting point for ensuring some uniformity in collection and laboratory work was to develop data sheets or templates, in addition to a consensus document. Such data sheets would be constructed in such a way to allow scientists who might not be expert in one field to nevertheless collect and analyze data that would be of importance to scientists in another field. With respect to data archiving and retrieval, the discussion revolved in large part around databases, what is currently available, their use, and development of common standards for submission and data format.