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10Be in marine sediments, Earth's environment and cosmic rays

Abstract

COSMIC RAYS create the long-lived radioactive nuclide 10Be (half life: 1.5 M yr) continuously in the upper atmosphere as a result of nuclear disintegrations. It enters the oceans through various paths and finally deposits in deep-sea sediment in a time which is short compared to its half life. This isotope has been used to establish the chronology of geophysical events up to the Pliocene1–7 or to suggest cosmic-ray intensity variations in the past8,9. This report shows that the 10Be stratigraphy in marine sediments can be used as a time marker for geophysical events in the past, but not for delineating any time variations in cosmic-ray intensity unless one can learn how to delineate geophysical effects. Also the cosmic-ray consistency would be estimated from the limits of 10Be variation implied by this data set.

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