Cosmogenic nuclides as a surface exposure dating tool: improved altitude/latitude scaling factors for production rates
AuthorDesilets, Darin Maurice
Committee ChairZreda, Marek
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractApplications of in situ cosmogenic nuclides to problems in Quaternary geology require increasingly accurate and precise knowledge of nuclide production rates. Production rates depend on the terrestrial cosmic-ray intensity, which is a function of the elevation and geomagnetic coordinates of a sample site and the geomagnetic field intensity. The main goal of this dissertation is to improve the accuracy of cosmogenic dating by providing better constraints on the spatial variability of production rates.In this dissertation I develop a new scaling model that incorporates the best available cosmic-ray data into a framework that better describes the effects of elevation and geomagnetic shielding on production rates. This model is based on extensive measurements of energetic nucleon fluxes from neutron monitor surveys and on more limited data from low-energy neutron surveys. A major finding of this work is that neutron monitors yield scaling factors different from unshielded proportional counters. To verify that the difference is real I conducted an airborne survey of low-energy neutron fluxes at Hawaii (19.7° N 155.5° W) to compare with a nearby benchmark neutron monitor survey. Our data confirm that the attenuation length is energy dependent and suggest that the scaling factor for energetic nucleons is 10% higher between sea level and 4000 m than for low-energy neutrons at this location. An altitude profile of cosmogenic 36Cl production from lava flows on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, support the use of neutron flux measurements to scale production rates but these data do not have enough precision to confirm or reject the hypothesis of energy-dependent scaling factors.