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Christine Lane BSc MSc PhD

Christine Lane BSc MSc PhD

Professor of Geography (1993)

Christine is a Geochronologist and Quaternary Geographer researching the mechanisms, timing and environmental impacts of past climatic change. Head of The Cambridge Tephra Laboratory.



  • 2016 - present, Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2014 - 2016, Lecturer in Quaternary Environmental Change, Geography, University of Manchester
  • 2012 - 2015 Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, University of Oxford / University of Manchester
  • 2009 - 2012 Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford


  • PhD Archaeological Science: University of Oxford
  • MSc Quaternary Science: Royal Holloway University of London
  • BSc Geology: Cardiff, University of Wales.


Through my research, I aim to improve our understanding of the driving mechanisms, spatial complexity and environmental impacts of climate variability. My primary expertise lies in tephrochronology. I have worked widely across Europe and Africa using far-travelled volcanic ash (tephra) layers as isochrons to align archives and test the pacing of regional climatic and environmental transitions.

In particular, I am interested in the role of changing climates and environments on hominin evolution and dispersal during the Late Quaternary. By using tephra layers to directly connect archaeological archives to the palaeoenvironmental record, precise correlations between climatic changes and hominin development can be made.

Much of my current research focuses on building Late Quaternary tephrostratigraphies for volcanic regions of the East African Rift. Through the characterisation and correlation of visible and non-visible (crypto-) tephra layers in lake sediment archives, detailed stratified tephra records are contributing both to dating and correlation of important tropical palaeoclimate archives and to a better understanding of past volcanism and hazard in an understudied region.

Selected research projects

INTegration of Ice core, MArine and TErrestrial records (INTIMATE)

I am Chair of the international INTIMATE research initiative; one of the leading bodies in palaeoclimate research. INTIMATE aims to reconstruct past abrupt and extreme climate changes over the last glacial cycle, through the precise INTegration of Ice-core, MArine, and TErrestrial records, on their own independent timescales. The combined data is used in climate models to better understand the mechanisms and impact of change, thereby reducing the uncertainty of future prediction.

Testing the 'megadrought' hypothesis: the timing, cause and impacts of climate change in equatorial Africa (DeepCHALLA-UK)

NERC standard grant. PI C. Lane. 2017-2020

Research into the timing, cause and impacts of tropical megadrought events recorded in the sediments of East African Lake Challa, a 90 m deep crater lake on the flank of Kilimanjaro. Lake Challa contains an exceptional sedimentary record, with the proven potential to reconstruct past hydroclimate at high chronological precision and with dating accuracy not previously achieved in the tropics.

DeepCHALLA: two glacial-interglacial cycles (>250,000 years) of climate and ecosystem dynamics on the East African equator.

International Continental Scientific Drilling Project. PI: D. Verschuren, Ghent. 2014 - on-going.

The wider ICDP project on Lake Challa will study tropical hydroclimate and ecosystem development throughout the full ~250,000 year sediment record. Visible and non-visible tephra layers will be characterised and dated throughout the core, contributing to a high precision chronology and a first continuous tephrostratigraphic archive for the region.

A 500,000 year environmental record from Chew Bahir, south Ethiopia: testing hypotheses of climate-driven human evolution, innovation, and dispersal.

NERC standard grant. PI: H. Lamb. 2014-2017.

The youngest site within the wider Hominin Sites Palaeolake Drilling Project, Chew Bahir lies between the Ethiopian and Omo-Turkana Rifts and will provide a detailed record palaeoclimate for the Middle - Late Pleistocene. Far-travelled ashes preserved within the ~300 metre record will help us to date and correlate the palaeolake sediments.

Into and out of the Younger Dryas at Haemelsee, Northern Germany

A collaborative research project between early career and experienced researchers from across Europe, that came out of the first EU COST funded INTIMATE Example training school in 2013. PI: S. Engels (Nottingham), C. Lane, D. Sachse (GFZ Potsdam).

The sediments at Haemelsee record in detail the local to regional environmental responses to that palaeoclimate and palaeohydrological changes that occurred during the last Glacial to Interglacial Transition. Using a multi-proxy technique we aim to make precise regional comparisons of the timing and sequence of change at the onset and termination of the Younger Dryas Stadial.

PhD students

Amy McGuire, University of Cambridge. 2016 - on-going.

The Quaternary climate of the eastern Mediterranean: Insights into changes in climate and environment and their impact on human populations.

Catherine Martin-Jones, University of Aberystwyth. 2012 - 2016.

Towards a Quaternary tephrostratigraphy of Ethiopia.

Co-supervisors: H. Lamb and N. Pearce.

Cassian Bramham-Law, University of Oxford. 2009 - 2013.

The role of lacustrine systems and the reoccupation of the North European Plain following the Last Glacial Maximum.

Co-supervisor: N. Barton.


Selected publications


  • Egan, J., Fletcher, W.J., Allott, T.E.H., Lane, C.S., Blackford, J.J., Clark, D.T. 2016. The impact and significance of tephra deposition on a Holocene forest environment in the North Cascades, Washington, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews, 137, 135-155.
  • Mithen, S., Wicks, K., Pirie, A., Reide, F., Lane, C.S., Banerjea, R., Cullen, V.L., Gittins, M, and Pankhurst, N. 2015. A Lateglacial archaeological site in the far north-west of Europe at Rubha Port an t-Seilich, Isle of Islay, western Scotland: Ahrensburgian-style artefacts, absolute dating and geoarchaeology. Journal of Quaternary Science, 30, 396-416. doi:10.1002/jqs.278
  • Lane, C.S., Brauer, A., Martin-Puertas, C., Blockley, S.P.E., Smith, V.C., Tomlinson, E.L. 2015. The Late Quaternary tephrostratigraphy of annually laminated sediments from Meerfelder Maar, Germany. Quaternary Science Reviews, 122, 192-206. doi:/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.05.025
  • Lowe, J.J., Bronk Ramsey, C., Housely, R., Lane, C.S. and Tomlinson, E.L., RESET team, RESET associates. 2015. The RESET project: constructing a European tephra lattice for refined synchronisation of environmental and archaeological events during the last c. 100 ka. Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 1-17. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.04.006
  • Barton, R.N.E., Lane, C.S., White, D., Albert, P., Collcutt, S.N., Ditchfield, P., Bouzouggar, A., Farr, L., Oh, A., Ottolini, L., Smith, V., Van Peer, P., Kindermann, K. 2015. The role of cryptotephra in refining the chronology of Late Pleistocene human evolution and cultural change in North Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 151-169. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.09.008
  • Bronk Ramsey, C., Albert, P.G., Blockley, S.P.E., Hardiman, M., Housley, R., Lane, C.S., Lee, S., Matthews, I.P., Smith, V.C. and Lowe, J.J. 2015. Improved age estimates for key Late Quaternary European tephra horizons in the RESET lattice. Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 18-32. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.11.007
  • Bronk Ramsey, C., Housley, R.A., Lane, C.S., Smith, V.C., Pollard, A.M. 2015. The RESET tephra database and associated analytical tools. Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 33-47. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.11.008
  • Blockley, S.P.E., Brauer, A., Davies, S., Hardiman, M., Harding, P., Lane, C.S., MacLeod, A., Matthews, I.P., Pyne-O'Donnell, S.; Rasmussen, S.O., Wulf, S., Zanchetta, G. 2014. Tephrochronology and the extended intimate (integration of icecore, marine and terrestrial records) event stratigraphy 8-128 ka b2k. Quaternary Science Reviews, 106, 88-100. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.11.002
  • Matthews I.P., Trincardi F., Blockley S.P.E., Lowe J.J., MacLeod A., Bourne A.J., Abbott P.A., Asioli A., Lane C.S., Oh Y.A., Satow C.S., Staff R.A., Wulf S. 2015. Developing a robust tephrochronological framework for Late Quaternary marine records in the Adriatic Sea: new data from core station SA03-11 and their palaeoenvironmental significance. Quaternary Science Reviews, 84-104. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.009


  • Bronk Ramsey, C., Albert, P., Blockley, S.P.E., Hardiman, M., Lane, C.S., Macleod, A., Matthews, I.P., Palmer, A. and Staff, R.A. 2014. Integrating timescales with time-transfer functions: a practical approach for an INTIMATE database. Quaternary Science Reviews, 106, 67-80. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.05.028
  • Douka K., Jacobs Z., Lane C.S., Grün R., Farr L., Hunt C., Inglis R., Reynolds T., Albert P., Aubert M. and Barker G.W.W. 2014. The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya). Journal of Human Evolution, 66, 39-63. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.10.001
  • Johnson, T.C. and Lane, C.S. 2014. Comment on "The Latest on Volcanic Eruptions and Climate". EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 95 (39), 353. doi:10.1002/2014EO390008
  • Karkanas, P., White, D., Lane, C.S., Cullen, V.L., Stringer, C., Davies, S.W.G., Smith, V.C., Ntinou, M., Tsartsidou, G. and Kyparissi-Apostolika, N. 2015. Tephra correlations and climatic events between the MIS6/5 transition and the beginning of MIS3 in Theopetra Cave, central Greece. Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 170-181. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.05.027
  • Lane, C.S., Cullen, V.C., White, D., Bramham-Law, C.W.F., Smith, V.C. 2014. Cryptotephra as a dating and correlation tool in archaeological sites. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42, 42-50. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.10.033


  • Albert, P.G., Tomlinson, E.L., Lane, C.S., Wulf, S., Smith, V., Coltelli, M., Keller, J., Lo Castro, D., Manning, C.J., Müller, W & Menzies, M.A. 2013. Late glacial explosive activity on Mount Etna: implications for proximal-distal tephra correlations and the synchronisation of Mediterranean archives. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 256, 9-26.
  • Bramham-Law, C.W.F., Theuerkauf, M., Lane, C.S., Mangerud, J. 2013. New findings regarding the Saksunarvatn Ash in Germany. Journal of Quaternary Science, 28 (3), 248-257.
  • Lane, C.S., Brauer, A., Blockley, S.P.E. and Dulski, P. 2013. Volcanic ash reveals time-transgressive abrupt climate change during the Younger Dryas. Geology, 41, 1251-1254. doi:10.1130/G34867.1
  • Lane, C.S., Chorn, B.T., Johnson, T.C. 2013. Ash from the Toba super-eruption in Lake Malawi shows no volcanic winter in East Africa at 75 ka. PNAS. vol. 110, 20, 8025-8029. doi/10.1073/pnas.1301474110
  • Veres, D., Lane, C.S., Timar-Gabor, A., Hambach, U., Constantin, D., Szakács, A., Onac, B.P. and Panaiotu, C.G. 2013. The Campanian Ignimbrite/Y5 tephra layer - a regional stratigraphic marker for Isotope Stage 3 deposits in the Lower Danube region. Quaternary International, 293, 22-33. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2012.02.042


  • Blockley, S.P.E., Lane, C.S., Hardiman, M., Rasmussen, S., Seierstad, I., Steffensen, J.P., Svensson, A., Lotter, A.F, Turney, C.S., Ramsey C.B. and INTIMATE members. 2012. Synchronisation of palaeoenvironmental records over the last 60,000 years, and an extended INTIMATE event stratigraphy to 48,000 b2k. Quaternary Science Reviews, 36, 2-10. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.09.017
  • Boric, D, Dimitrijevic, V, White, D., Lane, C.S., French, C. and Cristiani, E. 2012. Early Modern Human settling of the 'Danube corridor': The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic site of Tabula Traiana Cave in the Danube Gorges (Serbia). Antiquity, 86, 334, Antiquity Project Gallery.
  • Housley, R.A., Lane, C.S., Cullen, V., Weber, M-J., Riede, F., Gamble, C.S. and Brock, F. 2012. Icelandic volcanic ash from the Late-glacial open-air archaeological site of Ahrenshöft LA58 D, north Germany. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39, 708-716. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2011.11.003
  • Lane, C.S., Blockley, S.P.E., Lotter, A.F., Finsinger, W., Filippi, M.L. and Matthews, I.P. 2012. A regional tephrostratigraphic framework for central and southern European climate archives during the Last Glacial to Interglacial Transition: comparisons north and south of the Alps. Quaternary Science Reviews, 36, 50-58. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.10.015
  • Lane, C.S., Blockley, S.P.E., Mangerud, J., Smith, V.C., Lohne, Ø.S., Tomlinson, E.L., Matthews, I.P. and Lotter, A.F. 2012. Was the 12.1 ka Icelandic Vedde Ash one of a kind? 2012. Quaternary Science Reviews, 33, 87-99. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.11.011
  • Lane, C.S., de Klerk, P. and Cullen, V.L. 2012. A tephrochronology for the Lateglacial vegetation record of Endinger Bruch, Vorpommern. Journal of Quaternary Science, 27, 141-149. doi:10.1002/jqs.1521
  • Lowe, J., Barton, N. Blockley, S., Bronk Ramsey, C., Cullen, V.L., Davies, W., Gamble, C., Grant, K., Hardiman, M., Housley, R., Lane, C.S., Lee, S., Lewis, M., MacLeod, A., Menzies, M, Müller, W., Pollard, M., Price, C., Roberts, A.P., Rohling, E.J., Satow, C., Smith, V.C., Stringer, C.B., Tomlinson, E.L., White, D., Albert, P., Arienzo, I., Barker, G., Boric´, D., Carandente, A., Civetta, L., Ferrier, C., Guadelli, J-L., Karkanas, P., Koumouzelis, M., Müller, U.C., Orsi, G.O., Pross, J., Rosi, M., Shalamanov-Korobar, L., Sirakov, N., and Tzedakis, P.C. 2012. Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards. PNAS, 109, 13532-13537. doi:10.1073/pnas.1204579109
  • Tomlinson, E.L., Arienzo, I., Wulf, S., Smith, V.C., Carandente, A., Civetta, L., Hardiman, M., Lane, C.S., Orsi, G., Rosi, M., Thirlwall, M., Muller W. and Menzies, M.A. 2012. Geochemistry of the Phlegraean Fields (Italy) proximal sources for major Mediterranean tephras: Implications for the dispersal of Plinian and co-ignimbritic components of explosive eruptions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 93, 102-128.
  • Tomlinson, E.L., Thordarson, T., Lane. C.S., Manning, C.J., Smith, V.C., Müller, M, and Menzies, M.A. 2012. Petrogenesis of the Sólheimar Ignimbrite (Katla, Iceland): implications for tephrostratigraphy. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 86, 318-337. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2012.03.012


  • Finsinger, W., Lane, C.S., van den Brand, G., Wagner-Cremer, F., Blockley, S.P.E. and Lotter, A.F. 2011. The late-glacial Quercus expansion in the southern European Alps: a rapid vegetation response to a late Allerød climate warming? Journal of Quaternary Science, 26, 694-702. doi:10.1002/jqs.1493
  • Lane, C.S., Andrič, M., Cullen, V.L., Blockley, S.P.E. 2011. The occurrence of distal Icelandic and Italian tephra in the Lateglacial of Lake Bled, Slovenia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 1013-1018.
  • Lane, C. S., Blockley, S. P. E., Lotter, A. F. and Bronk Ramsey, C. 2011. Tephrochronology and absolute centennial scale synchronisation of European and Greenland records for the last glacial to interglacial transition: a case study of Soppensee and NGRIP. Quaternary International, 246, 145-156. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2010.11.028.
  • Lane, C.S., Haslam, M., Petraglia, M., Ditchfield, P., Smith, V.C. and Korisettar, R. 2011. Cryptotephra from the 74 kyr BP Toba super-eruption in the Billa Surgam caves, southern India. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 1819-1824.
  • Riede, F., Bazely, O., Newton, A.J. and Lane, C.S. 2011. A Laacher See-eruption supplement to Tephrabase. Investigating distal tephra fall-out dynamics. Quaternary International, 246, 134-144. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.06.029
  • Smith, V.C., Pearce, N.J.G., Matthews, N.E., Westgate, J.A., Petraglia, M.D., Haslam, M., Lane, C.S., Korisettar, R. & Pal, N.J. 2011. Geochemical fingerprinting the widespread Toba tephra using biotite compositions. Quaternary International, 246, 97-104. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.05.012

External activities

  • Member of the Hominin Sites and Palaeolakes Drilling Project.
  • Chair of the INTegration of Ice-core, MArine, and TErrestrial records (INTIMATE) network.
  • Southern Hemisphere Assessment of PalaeoEnvironments, INQUA inter-congress focus group. INTIMATE (northern hemisphere) liaison.
  • Lead Guest Editor on the International Focus Group on Tephrochronology (INTAV) Special Issue in Quaternary Geochronology. Expected publication January 2017.