Articles | Volume 57, issue 1/2
01 Aug 2008
 | 01 Aug 2008

Surface exposure dating with cosmogenic nuclides

Susan Ivy-Ochs and Florian Kober

Abstract. In the last decades surface exposure dating using cosmogenic nuclides has emerged as a powerful tool in Quaternary geochronology and landscape evolution studies. Cosmogenic nuclides are produced in rocks and sediment due to reactions induced by cosmic rays. Landforms ranging in age from a few hundred years to tens of millions of years can be dated (depending on rock or landform weathering rates) by measuring nuclide concentrations. In this paper the history and theory of surface exposure dating are reviewed followed by an extensive outline of the fields of application of the method. Sampling strategies as well as information on individual nuclides are discussed in detail. The power of cosmogenic nuclide methods lies in the number of nuclides available (the radionuclides 10Be, 14C, 26Al, and 36Cl and the stable noble gases 3He and 21Ne), which allows almost every mineral and hence almost every lithology to be analyzed. As a result focus can shift to the geomorphic questions. It is important that obtained exposure ages are carefully scrutinized in the framework of detailed field studies, including local terrace or moraine stratigraphy and regional morphostratigraphic relationships; as well as in light of independent age constraints.