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All Toba Tephra Occurrences across Peninsular India Belong to the 75,000 yr B.P. Eruption

  • John A. Westgate (a1), Philip A.R. Shane (a2), Nicholas J.G. Pearce (a3), William T. Perkins (a3), Ravi Korisettar (a4), Craig A. Chesner (a5), Martin A.J. Williams (a6) and Subhrangsu K. Acharyya (a7)...


A controversy currently exists regarding the number of Toba eruptive events represented in the tephra occurrences across peninsular India. Some claim the presence of a single bed, the 75,000-yr-old Toba tephra; others argue that dating and archaeological evidence suggest the presence of earlier Toba tephra. Resolution of this issue was sought through detailed geochemical analyses of a comprehensive suite of samples, allowing comparison of the Indian samples to those from the Toba caldera in northern Sumatra, Malaysia, and importantly, the sedimentary core at ODP Site 758 in the Indian Ocean—a core that contains several of the earlier Toba tephra beds. In addition, two samples of Toba tephra from western India were dated by the fission-track method. The results unequivocally demonstrate that all the presently known Toba tephra occurrences in peninsular India belong to the 75,000 yr B.P. Toba eruption. Hence, this tephra bed can be used as an effective tool in the correlation and dating of late Quaternary sedimentary sequences across India and it can no longer be used in support of a middle Pleistocene age for associated Acheulian artifacts.



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