Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith

Using tephra layers in lacustrine archives from southern South America to investigate past volcanic activity

Academic Profile

I undertook a Geography BSc (Hons) at Royal Holloway, University of London from 2010 – 2013. During this course, I developed an interest in Quaternary environments and was involved with extra-curricular work (e.g., research expedition to Mesolithic site, Star Carr, Yorkshire; 1-week internship at the Centre for Ice and Climate (CIC) in the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen).

I stayed at Royal Holloway for a Masters in Quaternary Science (MSc). During this course, my interest in geochronology grew. For my MSc thesis, I initiated a collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Tyler at the University of Adelaide and investigated cryptotephra in Lake Keilambete, Victoria, Australia. This work is now published.

Current Research

I am interested in geochemistry, chronology, volcanoes, and their hazards. My PhD research involves identifying visible volcanic ash (tephra) deposits in lacustrine (lake) records within southern South America, and uses glass-shard chemistry. This data can provide important information, such as: eruptive source, the size of the eruption, how frequently they erupt, and whether there are changes in the composition of the melt over time.

Specifically, I endeavour to: improve our understanding of the chemical compositions of tephra from past eruptions and how these may have changed through time; gain an improved understanding of how the magnitude and frequency of past volcanic eruptions have changed through time and what causal mechanisms may have influenced this; decipher whether there are any isochronous horizons for any visible tephra horizons both locally and distally to my chosen sites.

Please contact me for further information or questions regarding my research.


  • Smith, R. E., Tyler, J. J., Reeves, J., Blockley, S. & Jacobsen, G. E. 2017. First Holocene cryptotephras in mainland Australia reported from sediments at Lake Keilambete, Victoria, Australia. Quaternary Geochronology. 40, 82-91,

Associated Research Streams

Rebecca Smith

Contact information

Associated Supervisors