Tephrochronology requires accurate geochemical fingerprinting (usually via an electron microprobe).
Continue on to Þjórsárdalur, a valley shaped by the eruptions of Mount Hekla.
Visit the site of a Viking farmstead that was buried under volcanic ash from the eruption of Hekla in 1104 and excavated by archaeologists in 1939.
Tour world-class museums, marvel at geologic wonders, and learn how Vikings became Icelanders. Professor of Anthropology, Washington State University, and Gísli Pálsson, Ph. A wall fragment at the site actually dates from around A. 871—about the time Iceland was settled, according to the sagas.
Duration: Visit Reykjavik City Museum's settlement Exhibit, Stöng settlement, Gásir ruins and current excavations in North Iceland. This afternoon, our introduction to Viking archaeology continues on a tour of Þjóðminjasafn Íslands—the National Museum of Iceland.
In Iceland, tephrochronology (dating layers of volcanic ash from eruptions) provides a way to date sites as specifically as dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) does in the Southwest.
We also tour a reconstruction of the farmstead at nearby Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng. A 45-minute flight takes us from the domestic airport in Reykjavik north to the town of Akureyri, just south of the Arctic Circle. (In 2013, Akureyri was the site of a meeting between archaeologists and climate scientists specializing in the American Southwest and the North Atlantic—two very different parts of the world, with shared interests in the role of the environment in settlement and social change.) We explore the trading port of Gásir, about 7 miles from Akureyri; trade flourished here for centuries.Tephrochronology is a geochronological technique that uses discrete layers of tephra—volcanic ash from a single eruption—to create a chronological framework in which paleoenvironmental or archaeological records can be placed.Such an established event provides a "tephra horizon".Hike through lava cliffs to the site of the Althing (general assembly), where Viking leaders in A. 930 established the world’s oldest parliament still in existence.This historic site is also remarkable for its geology: it is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.The premise of the technique is that each volcanic event produces ash with a unique chemical "fingerprint" that allows the deposit to be identified across the area affected by fallout.