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Re: Cosmic rays and the estimation of paleo-elevation



At 16:06 2006-07-27, Phillip Bigelow wrote:
ahhh HAAA!  Thanks to Michael's GeoRef file, I found a reference on
cosmogenic paleoaltimetry!

Gosse, John C., and F. M. Phillips. 2001. Terrestrial in situ cosmogenic
nuclides: theory and application. Quaternary Science Reviews 20, no.
14:1475-1560.

Here are the elements that have stable *distinctive* cosmogenic isotopes:
(I left off the subscripts and superscripts)

He, Be, C, Ne, Al, Cl

Apparently, these *distinctive* isotopic changes are measurable in rocks
with as little as 100 years exposure to high levels of cosmic rays.

The authors didn't mention the potential use of this technique to measure
the amounts and ratios in bones that have lain on (or were shallowly
buried in) high altitude soil.  But they *do* claim the method works well
for "virtually any lithology".  *Any* lithology, hmmm?

Now, we're probably all thinking the same thing:  What would 100 years
(or even better, 1000 years) of exposure to high altitude cosmic rays add
to the shallowly buried bones of a mountain dinosaur?

Can we segregate dinosaur taxa into "cosmogenic isotope categories" by
this method?

<pb>
--

Sounds quite interesting. If anybody would like to try the concept with somewhat more recent dinosaurs I can provide details about pleistocene avian remains with age and altitude data.


Tommy Tyrberg