Beryllium 10 cosmogenic dating
Dating glacial landforms helps scientists understand past ice-sheet extent and rates of ice-sheet recession.
Topographic shielding, for example by a nearby large mountain, also affects the production rate of cosmogenic nuclides.
The first stage in the calculation of a cosmogenic nuclide exposure age is to extract the quartz from a rock.
They will therefore sample boulders that are subrounded, faceted, bear striations, or show other signs of subglacial transport.
Rock samples may be collected with a hammer and chisel or with a rock saw.
This is quite an involved process and means using some quite dangerous chemicals, such as HF Hydrogen Flouride.
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.
Spallation reactions are those where cosmic-ray neutrons collide with particular elements in surface rocks, resulting in a reaction that is sufficiently energetic to fragment the target nucleus.
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Attenuation of cosmic rays Bethan Davies sampling a boulder for cosmogenic nuclide dating in Greenland.
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.