Beryllium 10 cosmogenic dating

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Even though this tracer was first developed in the late 1980s and showed great promise as a geomorphic tool, it was sidelined in the past two decades with the rise of the "sister nuclide", in situ Be-10, which is produced at a known rate inside quartz minerals.

Since these early days, substantial progress has been made in several areas that now shed new light on the applicability of the meteoric variety of this cosmogenic nuclide.

Here, we revisit the potential of this tracer and we summarize the progress: (1) the atmospheric production and fallout is now described by numeric models, and agrees with present-day measurements and paleo-archives such as from rain and ice cores; (2) short-term fluctuations in solar modulation of cosmic rays or in the delivery of Be-10 are averaged out over the time scale soils accumulate; (3) in many cases, the delivery of Be-10 is not dependent on the amount of precipitation: (4) we explore where Be-10 is retained in soils and sediment; (5) we suggest a law to account for the strong grain-size dependence that controls adsorption and the measured nuclide concentrations: and (6) we present a set of algebraic expressions that allows calculation of both soil or sediment ages and erosion rates from the inventory of meteoric Be-10 distributed through a vertical soil column.

The mathematical description is greatly simplified if the accumulation of Be-10 is at a steady state with its export through erosion.

Some stable cosmogenic nuclides are also produced, for instance helium-3 and neon-21, but some of these nuclei also have other terrestrial origins.