Extended scaling factors for in situ cosmogenic nuclides: New measurements at low latitude

Darin Desilets, Marek Zreda, T. Prabu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

220 Scopus citations


Production rates of cosmogenic nuclides at the earth's surface are controlled by the intensity of energetic cosmic-ray nucleons, which changes rapidly with elevation. An incomplete knowledge of how nucleon fluxes vary with elevation remains a major obstacle to utilizing cosmogenic nuclides as geochronometers in applications requiring highly accurate ages. One problem is that attenuation characteristics depend on nucleon energy. Measurements of high-energy (> 50 MeV) nucleon fluxes tend to give shorter attenuation lengths than low-energy (< 1 MeV) fluxes, but these differences are not well characterized due to a lack of data at lower energies. Another problem is that the atmospheric attenuation length for nucleon fluxes varies with the geomagnetic cutoff rigidity (a parameter related to geomagnetic latitude), RC, and that there has been an incomplete mapping of nucleon fluxes at high RC (low geomagnetic latitude). We report new measurements of nucleon fluxes from altitude transects in Hawaii (RC = 12.8 GV) and Bangalore, India (RC = 17.3 GV). Our measurements in Hawaii of low-energy neutrons (median energy 1 eV) and energetic nucleons (median energy 140 MeV) confirm that nucleon scaling functions are energy-dependent in the range of energies at which cosmogenic nuclides are produced. Our measurements in southern India extend our previously reported scaling model for spallation reactions [D. Desilets, M. Zreda, Spatial and temporal distribution of secondary cosmic-ray nucleon intensity and applications to in situ cosmogenic dating. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 206 (2003) 21-42] from RC = 13.3 GV to RC = 17.3 GV, nearly the highest cutoff rigidity on earth. The anomalously high cutoff rigidity over India provides a geomagnetic shielding condition that is effectively the same as would be observed at the geomagnetic equator in a dipole field with an intensity 1.2 times the modern value. This makes it possible to scale low-latitude production rates to paleomagnetic fields that are stronger than the present dipole field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 30 2006


  • cosmic-rays
  • cutoff rigidity
  • neutron monitor
  • production rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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