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10Be evidence for the Matuyama–Brunhes geomagnetic reversal in the EPICA Dome C ice core



An ice core drilled at Dome C, Antarctica, is the oldest ice core so far retrieved1. On the basis of ice flow modelling and a comparison between the deuterium signal in the ice with climate records from marine sediment cores, the ice at a depth of 3,190 m in the Dome C core is believed to have been deposited around 800,000 years ago2, offering a rare opportunity to study climatic and environmental conditions over this time period. However, an independent determination of this age is important because the deuterium profile below a depth of 3,190 m depth does not show the expected correlation with the marine record2. Here we present evidence for enhanced 10Be deposition in the ice at 3,160–3,170 m, which we interpret as a result of the low dipole field strength during the Matuyama–Brunhes geomagnetic reversal, which occurred about 780,000 years ago. If correct, this provides a crucial tie point between ice cores, marine cores and a radiometric timescale.

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We thank S. Jacob, G. Aumaitre, J. Lestringuez, S. Falourd and V. Masson-Delmotte for help with experimental measurements, F. Parrenin for the age and accumulation estimates, and K. Krogh-Andersen for suggesting the use of medians to eliminate the effect of the 10Be spikes. Tandetron operation is supported by the IN2P3 and INSU divisions of the CNRS. This work is a contribution to the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA), a joint European Science Foundation/European Commission (EC) scientific programme, funded by the EC and by national contributions from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The main logistic support was provided by IPEV and PNRA.

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Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Correspondence to G. M. Raisbeck.

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Further reading

Figure 1: 10 Be concentration, deuterium, 10 Be flux and median 10 Be flux (see text) in the EPICA Dome C ice core.
Figure 2: 10 Be flux in EPICA Dome C ice core, geomagnetic dipole intensity from stacked marine sediments 19 and predicted global 10 Be production rate.


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