Cosmogenic chlorine-36 production rates in terrestrial rocks

Marek G. Zreda, Fred M. Phillips, David Elmore, Peter W. Kubik, Pankaj Sharma, Ronald I. Dorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Chlorine-36 is produced in rocks exposed to cosmic rays at the earth surface through thermal neutron activation of 35Cl, spallation of 39K and 40Ca, and slow negative moun capture by 40Ca. We have measured the 36Cl content of 14C-dated glacial boulders from the White Mountains in eastern California and in a 14C-dated basalt flow from Utah. Effective, time-intergrated production parameters were calculated by simultaneous solution of the 36Cl production equations. The production rates due to spallation are 4160 ± 310 and 3050 ± 210 atoms 36Cl yr-1 mol-1 39K and 40Ca, respectively. The thermal neutron capture rate was calculated to be (3.07 ± 0.24) × 105 neutrons (kg of rock)-1 yr-1. The reported values are normalized to sea level and high geomagnetic latitudes. Production of 36Cl at different altitudes and latitudes can be estimated by appropriate scaling of the sea level rates. Chlorine-36 dating was performed on carbonate ejecta from Meteor Crater, Arizona, and late Pleistocene morainal boulders from the Sierra Nevada, California. Calculated 36Cl ages are in good agreement with previously reported ages obtained using independent methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-109
Number of pages16
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jul 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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