This road cutting at Te Ngae, near Rotorua, shows layers of tephra (pale coloured layers) and buried soils (dark brownish to yellowish-brown horizons). The sequence seen here dates back about 18,000 years. Each tephra fallout was followed by a period of weathering and soil formation. Then the soil would be covered by tephra from a new eruption.
Tephra beds have been given names (for example, Rotomā Tephra) which usually indicate the place where the tephra was first identified, not necessarily the source from which it was erupted.
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Photograph by Simon Nathan
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