Pyroclastic fall deposits of the paired Rotoiti and Earthquake Flat eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone (New Zealand) combine to form a widespread isochronous horizon over much of northern New Zealand and the southwest Pacific. This horizon is important for correlating climatic and environmental changes during the Last Glacial period, but has been the subject of numerous disparate age estimates between 35.1??2.8 and 71??6 ka (all errors are 1 s.d.), obtained by a variety of techniques. A potassium-argon (K-Ar) age of 64??4 ka was previously determined on bracketing lavas at Mayor Island volcano, offshore from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. We present a new, more-precise 40Ar/39Ar age determination on a lava flow on Mayor Island, that shortly post-dates the Rotoiti/Earthquake Flat fall deposits, of 58.5??1.1 ka. This value, coupled with existing ages from underlying lavas, yield a new estimate for the age of the combined eruptions of 61.0??1.4 ka, which is consistent with U-Th disequilibrium model-age data for zircons from the Rotoiti deposits. Direct 40Ar/39Ar age determinations of plagioclase and biotite from the Rotoiti and Earthquake Flat eruption products yield variable values between 49.6??2.8 and 125.3??10.0 ka, with the scatter attributed to low radiogenic Ar yields, and/or alteration, and/or inheritance of xenocrystic material with inherited Ar. Rotoiti/Earthquake Flat fall deposits occur in New Zealand in association with palynological indicators of mild climate, attributed to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 and thus used to suggest an age that is post-59 ka. The natures of the criteria used to define the MIS 4/3 boundary in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, however, imply that the new 61 ka age for the Rotoiti/Earthquake Flat eruption deposits will provide the inverse, namely, a more accurate isochronous marker for correlating diverse changes across the MIS 4/3 boundary in the southwest Pacific. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
A multiple-approach radiometric age estimate for the Rotoiti and Earthquake Flat eruptions, New Zealand, with implications for the MIS 4/3 boundary