Very low inheritance in cosmogenic surface exposure ages of glacial deposits: A field experiment from two Norwegian glacier forelands

Matthews, J. A., Shakesby, R. A. and Fabel, D. (2017) Very low inheritance in cosmogenic surface exposure ages of glacial deposits: A field experiment from two Norwegian glacier forelands. Holocene, 27(9), pp. 1406-1414. (doi: 10.1177/0959683616687387)

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Terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide dating has been widely used to estimate the surface exposure age of bedrock and boulder surfaces associated with deglaciation and Holocene glacier variations, but the effect of inherited age has been rarely directly addressed. In this study, small clasts, embedded in flute surfaces on two cirque glacier forelands in Jotunheimen, southern Norway and deposited within the last ~60 years, were used to test whether such clasts have the modern surface exposure age expected in the absence of inheritance. Two different approaches were taken involving dating of (1) a single clast of cobble size from the proglacial area of Austanbotnbreen, and (2) 75 clasts mostly of pebble size from the proglacial area of Storbreen crushed and treated as a single sample. 10Be surface exposure ages were 99 ± 98 and 368 ± 90 years, respectively, with 95% confidence (±2σ). It is concluded that (1) these small glaciers have eroded and deposited rock fragments with a cosmogenic zero or near-zero concentration, (2) the likelihood of inherited cosmogenic nuclide concentrations in similar rock fragments deposited by larger warm-based glaciers and ice sheets should be small, and (3) combining a large number of small rock particles into one sample rather than using single large clasts of boulder size may provide a viable alternative to the commonly perceived need for five or more independent estimates of exposure age per site.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fabel, Dr Derek
Authors: Matthews, J. A., Shakesby, R. A., and Fabel, D.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Holocene
ISSN (Online):1477-0911
Published Online:18 January 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Holocene 27(9):1406-1414
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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