Cosmogenic 3He production rate in the high tropical Andes (3800m,20◦S): implications for the local last glacial maximum

Blard, P.-H., Lave, J., Sylvestre, F., Placzek, C.J., Claude, C., Galy, V., Condom, T., and Tibari, B. (2013) Cosmogenic 3He production rate in the high tropical Andes (3800m,20◦S): implications for the local last glacial maximum. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 377-378. pp. 260-275.

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To improve both precision and accuracy of cosmic-ray exposure dating methods, there is a crucial need of calibration sites constraining the production rate of cosmogenic isotopes. This is particularly true in the high tropical area, where existing scaling models present significant discrepancies. This study presents a new calibration site for cosmogenic ³He, located at ∼3800 m in the tropical Altiplano (19.9°S, 67.6°W), on the southern flank of the Tunupa volcano, in the vicinity of the Salar de Uyuni. It consists in a fluvio-glacial outwash that is stratigraphically bracketed by two successive lacustrine shorelines. These shorelines are well-dated by ¹⁴C and U-series dating (n=57), allowing determination of the age of the boulder field at the surface of the delta, at 15.3±0.5 ka (1σ). Eleven andesitic boulders were sampled on this fluvio-glacial surface and the cosmogenic ³He contents of their pyroxene phenocrysts and amphiboles was analyzed. The nucleogenic contribution from ⁶Li capture is well-constrained by determining the (U–Th–Sm)/⁴He age of these rocks. This correction is minimal (<2%) and does not represent a significant source of uncertainty. Cosmogenic ³He (³Hec) concentrations are characterized by a very high reproducibility: 10 samples overlap within 1σ analytical error. This suggests that pre- or post-deposition processes have minimal impact on the ³Hec data. Furthermore, there is no correlation between the Li and the ³Hec content of the mineral, indicating that ³Hec production from cosmogenic thermal neutron is here negligible.

Combined with the absolute dating of the delta, these 3Hec data yield a local production rate of 999±38 (1σ) at g⁻¹ yr⁻¹, at 3800 m and 19.89°S. After scaling with the time dependent scaling scheme of (Stone, 2000), this result yields a rate of 121±5 (1σ) at g⁻¹ yr⁻¹ at high latitude and sea level. This new calibration is the highest among the existing global dataset. It will thus permit the establishment of new robust glacial chronologies in the high Tropics, with an uncertainty lower than 5% at 1σ. Such precision may have important implications in paleoclimatology, notably because it will allow comparison with other well-dated paleoclimatic archives. Including this new data, the updated global ³Hec production rate is 122±15 atg⁻¹yr⁻¹, using the time-dependent scaling of Stone (2000).

The new site-specific ³Hec production rate is used here to refine glacier fluctuations on Cerro Tunupa, confirming that the local last glacial maximum was synchronous with the Lake Tauca highstand (15.5 ka). Data also suggest that a dramatic glacial retreat occurred at about 15 ka, few hundred years before the Lake Tauca regression, synchronously with the onset of the Bolling-Allerod.

Item ID: 28955
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1385-013X
Keywords: cosmogenic 3He; production rate; Altiplano; Heinrich 1; Lake Tauca; Tunupa
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2013 01:23
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040203 Isotope Geochemistry @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040602 Glaciology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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