Cosmogenic 3he helium age dating
Samuel Niedermann from the GFZ section Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry, co-author of the study.The analysis of cosmogenic nuclides in the form of helium and beryllium isotopes from volcanic rocks allows for an estimation of the time when the rocks were exposed at the Earth's surface for the first time.This age is identical with the time of the deposition of the ash layer and therewith it is possible to infer the age of the footprint conserved by the ash layer.: Whilst constructing a dam in 1969, workers discovered human footprints on the Kula volcanic field in Western Turkey.A volcanic eruption thousands of years ago had covered the ground with an ash layer that conserved the human trace.Cosmogenic nuclides are particularly suitable for the age determination of such a young material.Scientists from the WWU Münster, Germany, and the GFZ carried out the age dating together, with the analytical procedure of the determination of the helium being performed in the Noble Gas Laboratory at the GFZ, headed by Dr.
For a long time the age of the footprints was enigmatic.A new age dating now allows for a precise age estimation.The exact knowledge of the age of the footprint enables archeologists to reconstruct the history of human settlement in the region.Geologist, on the other hand, can use the age information to decipher the recent eruption history of large volcanoes and volcanic provinces and can reconstruct the geologic development of the landscape.
This method of combining helium and beryllium isotopes for an age determination of volcanic rock was applied for the first time on a volcanic field of a late Quaternary age.
The study was published in Quaternary Geochronology.