In press: August 12, 2014
Volume 10, Number 5 (October) • COSMOGENIC NUCLIDES
The geochemical study of cosmogenic nuclides is revolutionizing our understanding of the processes that shape Earth’s surface by providing their rates and dates. The underlying physical principles are simple and elegant: when rock or soil moves into the shallow zone of surface irradiation, cosmic rays interact with elements in minerals to produce very rare isotopes—the radioactive nuclides 10Be, 14C, 26Al, 36Cl, and 53Mn and the rare gases 3He and 21Ne. At this exact moment, the nuclide clock begins to tick. These nuclides can reveal the times when a river cuts down through a mountain range, when a glacial moraine was deposited, or when a river or marine terrace was abandoned. Cosmogenic nuclides also serve to measure erosion rates directly: the longer a soil resides at the surface before being eroded, the more nuclides accumulate. Hence, these nuclides provide rates of erosion, from the scale of a pebble to as large as an entire river basin.
A publication of the Mineralogical Society of America, the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the Geochemical Society, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, The Clay Minerals Society, the International Association of GeoChemistry, the European Association of Geochemistry, the Société Française de Minéralogie et de Cristallographie, the Association of Applied Geochemists, the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft, the International Association of Geoanalysts, the Società Italiana di Mineralogia e Petrologia, the Polskie Towarzystwo Mineralogiczne (Mineralogical Society of Poland), the Sociedad Española de Mineralogía (Spanish Mineralogical Society), the Swiss Society of Mineralogy and Petrology, The Meteoritical Society, and the Japan Association of Mineralogical Sciences.
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