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Meteoric Be-10 concentrations from saprolite and till in northern Sweden: Implications for glacial erosion and age

Authors: 
Ebert, K., Willenbring, J., Norton, K. P., Hall, A., Hattestrand, C.
Year: 
2 012
Source: 
Quaternary Geochronology
Abstract: 
We examine Be-10 concentration in two pit profiles in the Parkajoki area at similar to 67 degrees N on the northern Fennoscandian shield in northern Sweden. Due to repeated cover by cold-based, non-erosive ice sheets, the area retains many relict non-glacial features, including tors and saprolites. In the examined pit profiles, gruss-type saprolite developed from weathering of intermediate igneous rocks is overlain unconformably by Weichselian till. Our results show that Be-10 concentrations found in the till greatly exceed the levels of Be-10 that can have accumulated since deglaciation at similar to 11 ka and are comparable to those reported from Pliocene and Early Pleistocene tills in North America. Old tills with grussified boulders at depth were excavated in the Parkajoki area and correlations with neighbouring parts of Finland indicate a Middle Pleistocene or older age. Evidence from pit excavations and geochemistry shows that the underlying saprolites have been truncated by glacial erosion and that previously weathered material has been incorporated into the till sequence. Hence, Be-10 inventories in the tills are dominated by material recycled from Middle Pleistocene or older soils, near-surface sediments and saprolite, and cannot be used to date the periods of till deposition. The retention of relict Be-10 in the tills nonetheless confirms minimal glacial erosion. Concentrations of meteoric Be-10 in the saprolites are lower than any reported saprolite concentrations measured in other settings. Uncertainty in the pre-glaciation Be-10 concentrations in the saprolites makes age determinations difficult. One possibility is that that the saprolite had higher Be-10 concentrations in the past but that saprolite formation ended after glaciation and burial by till and that the Be-10 has substantially decayed. Modelling of the meteoric Be-10 depth profiles in this case suggests that the saprolites in the Parkajoki area were formed at a minimum of 2 Ma. Erosion of the saprolite allows an older age of up to similar to 5 Ma, with up to 250 cm of material removed and incorporated into later tills. A second possibility is that concentrations of meteoric Be-10 in the saprolite were originally lower, with formation of the saprolite in a period or periods of ice- and permafrost-free conditions before 0.8 Ma. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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