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Beryllium-10 (Be) does not occur naturally in quartz, and once it forms following spallation it becomes trapped by quartz’s regular crystal lattice.
For a rock to be suitable for cosmogenic nuclide dating, quartz must occur in the rock in sufficient quantities and in the sufficient size fraction.
Assuming that the boulder remains in a stable position, and does not roll or move after deposition, this boulder will give an excellent As well as using cosmogenic nuclide dating to work out the past extent of ice sheets and the rate at which they shrank back, we can use it to work out ice-sheet thicknesses and rates of thinning[5, 6].
Sampling and dating boulders in a transect down a mountain will rapidly establish how thick your ice sheet was and how quickly it thinned during deglaciation.
When particular isotopes in rock crystals are bombarded by these energetic cosmic rays neutrons, a reaction results.
This is important for glacial geologists, as it means that surfaces that have had repeated glaciations with repeated periods of exposure to cosmic rays can still be dated, as long as they have had sufficient glacial erosion to remove any inherited signal.
| Using cosmogenic nuclides in glacial geology | Sampling strategies cosmogenic nuclide dating | Difficulties in cosmogenic nuclide dating | Calculating an exposure age | Further Reading | References | Comments | Cosmogenic nuclide dating can be used to determine rates of ice-sheet thinning and recession, the ages of moraines, and the age of glacially eroded bedrock surfaces.
Cosmogenic nuclide dating uses the interactions between cosmic rays and nuclides in glacially transported boulders or glacially eroded bedrock to provide age estimates for rock at the Earth’s surface.
Cartoon illustrating cosmogenic nuclide exposure ages. A glacier transports an erratic boulder, and then recedes, exposing it to cosmic rays.
Spallation reactions occur in minerals in the rocks upon bombardment by cosmic rays.
By sampling the rocks and separating certain minerals (such as quartz or pyroxene) and calculating the amount of these minerals (as a ratio to other, stable, minerals), we can work out how long the rock has been exposed on the earth’s surface.