Surface exposure dating cosmogenic nuclides, explaining the science of antarctic glaciers
Extraction of quartz Bethan Davies using HF to dissolve rocks for cosmogenic nuclide dating. This is typically characterised by spread of exposure ages across a single landform. The basic principle states that a rock on a moraine originated from underneath the glacier, where it was plucked and then transported subglacially.
Calculation of an exposure age Once the ratio of cosmogenic to naturally occuring isotopes has been calculated, the production rate is used to calculate an exposure age.
Dating glacial landforms helps scientists understand past ice-sheet extent and rates of ice-sheet recession. By the time the cosmic ray cascade reaches the surface of Earth it is primarily composed of neutrons. All in all, not a substance you want to get on your skin!
Chlorine nuclides are also measured to date surface rocks. Cartoon illustrating cosmogenic nuclide exposure ages. They want to sample a rock that they are sure has undergone subglacial transport.
Rocks can therefore be left in a stable position or moved slightly, without having suffiicient erosion to remove cosmogenic nuclides from a previous exposure. Cosmogenic nuclides such as these are produced by chains of spallation reactions.
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 22, At Earth's surface most of these nuclides are produced by neutron spallation.
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