However, in some circumstances ash layers havebeen reported to vertically migrate in low-densitystratigraphic sequences (Beierle and Bond 2002).Paleolimnologists often prepare sediment sam-ples using strong acids to remove organic andcarbonate material (Wilson et al. 1996), whichleaves silica-rich material such as diatoms, silicateminerals and volcanic glass fragments. This notewill ﬁrst describe how optical properties can beused to distinguish volcanic glass from silicateminerals by shape, refractive index (i.e., measureof how much the light is bent when entering a newtransparent material, Nesse 2000) and by lack of interference colors (i.e., colors seen between cros-sed polarizers on a petrographic microscope, as aconsequence of the light being split into two rayswhen passing through a mineral, Nesse 2000).Second, we apply this technique to identify vol-canic glass in a
C-dated core from Prosser Lake(49
W; British Columbia,Canada). A 4.5 cm-thick tephra layer was identi-ﬁed as the Mazama climactic eruption (Hallettet al. 1997) through electron microprobe analysis.According to our AMS
C dates, the tephra layeris positioned in the sedimentary sequence at amuch older age than previously recorded. We as-sessed changes in the abundance of the glassshards from diatom slides, above the macroscopi-cally visible tephra layer to identify the initialdeposition of this tephra prior to its downwardmigration in the core.
Sample preparation and methods
A 6.25 m core representing the complete sedi-mentary record of Prosser Lake was recoveredfrom a depth of 26 m from Prosser Lake, using a2
Livingstone piston corer, in July 2000. A
4.5 cm-thick tephra layer situated at 472.5 cmdepth in the core was identiﬁed by microprobeanalysis by Dr. P. Roeder at Queen’s University,as belonging to the climactic eruption of Mazama(Hallett et al. 1997; Zdanowicz et al. 1999).However,
C AMS dates on pollen at 443 and500.5 cm, supplied an interpolated age of 7440 calyears BC at the top of the macroscopic tephralayer, which is approximately 2000 years olderthan ages previously provided (5470–5620 cal BC,Hallett et al. 1997).Diatom slides were prepared above the mac-roscopically visible tephra layer at 2-cm inter-vals, following procedures described by Wilsonet al. (1996). Three size-categories of glass frag-ments (<50; 50–100; and >100
m) were countedover the whole surface of the coverslip, calcu-lated as number of fragments/g wet sediment,and then plotted against depth in the core.Volcanic glass was enumerated above the tephralayer until the number of glass fragments de-creased to
0 glass shards/g wet sediment. Theintervals were compared for glass shards abun-dances and we considered that a signiﬁcantchange occurred when the mean of consecutiveintervals was higher than the mean + 2SD of the previous or following intervals. ANOVA and
-test analyses, performed with JMP 5.01 (SASInstitute Inc.), were used to assess the statisticalsigniﬁcance of these changes.
Identiﬁcation of volcanic glass fragments
Glass particles of volcanic ash appear under themicroscope as angular, highly vesicular frag-ments, with size ranging between a few micronsto 2 mm. Vesicles are empty cavities or ﬁlled bygas and their shapes can be elongated or stret-ched by the ﬂow before the volcanic melt iscooled to a glass (Figure 1). Along with theircharacteristic morphology (i.e., angular vesicularshape), glass fragments can be distinguishedfrom mineral fragments based on their opticalproperties i.e., the refractive index (Becke linemethod), and observation in cross-polarized light(Nesse 2000).
Volcanic glass morphology
The main morphological features of volcanic glassare the geometrical shape and size of the grains,surface characteristics, vesicle form and density,and the thickness of walls separating vesicles.Volcanic glass morphologies can vary fromspherical or tear-shaped droplets to highly vesic-ular fragments, sometimes with more than 98%vesicles and thin walls. Glass fragments may alsobe blocky or angular, with open-vesicle networksor no vesicles (Heiken and Wohletz 1985;662