AuthorPhillips, William Morton
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe buildup of the cosmogenic nuclides ³He and ²¹Ne in surficial rocks permit exposure ages and erosion rates to be estimated. This dissertation extends the cosmogenic exposure technique to garnets, plagioclase with significant nonspallation ²¹Ne components, and alluvial fill terraces. Garnets from Nanga Parbat, Pakistan have low nucleogenic ³He and moderate radiogenic ⁴He concentrations. ³He exposure ages from garnets in glacial erratics indicate glacial advances at Nanga Parbat at about 16 ka and 55 ka. 3He in alluvial garnets suggests that denudation in small unglaciated basins proceeds 5 to 7 times slower than glacial erosion, and 10 to nearly 100 times slower than regional rock exhumation and surface uplift. Rocks older than several million years possess nucleogenic and mugenic ²¹Ne and ³He components that must be resolved for accurate exposure ages. These nonspallation components in plagioclase and clinopyroxene from the Miocene Columbia River Basalt Group are best isolated with shielded samples. Analyses of ⁴He, U, Th, and Li systematically underpredict the amount of nonspallation ²¹Ne and ³He present in shielded samples, probably because of mugenic production. Step heating experiments suggest that ²¹Ne diffusive loss from plagioclase is possible, but most samples do not exhibit such ²¹Ne loss. The ratio of ²¹Ne in plagioclase and ³He in clinopyroxene is generally constant after correction for the nonspallation component, indicating that little or no ²¹Ne loss has occurred. The last highly erosive floods at Grand Coulee occurred at about 21 ka, early in the cycle of Missoula flooding. Nuclide inheritance must be resolved for accurate exposure ages of stream fill terraces. Depth profiles of cosmogenic ²¹Ne in quartz from terraces on the Pajarito Plateau, northern New Mexico resolve nuclide inheritance. Three patterns of depth profiles are recognized: (1) downward decreasing; (2) downward increasing; and (3) uniform; types 2 and 3 are associated with cumulate deposits and bioturbation, respectively. Inheritance corrected exposure ages for the terraces agree with independent radiocarbon and soil development ages. Denudation rates estimated from the profiles are higher for fill terraces than for straths.
Degree ProgramGraduate College