12 Sep 2023
 | 12 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GChron.

Short Communication: Cosmogenic noble gas depletion in soils by wildfire heating

Greg Balco, Alan Hidy, William T. Struble, and Joshua J. Roering

Abstract. Measurements of cosmic-ray-produced beryllium-10, neon-21, and helium-3 in quartz in a soil profile from a forested landscape in the Oregon Coast Ranges show that the cosmogenic noble gases 21Ne and 3He are depleted relative to 10Be in the shallow subsurface. As the noble gases are mobile in mineral grains by thermally activated diffusion and 10Be is not, this is most likely the result of surface heating by wildfires and subsequent mixing of partially degassed quartz downward into the soil. Cosmogenic noble gas depletion by wildfire heating of soils is a potential means of estimating wildfire intensity and/or frequency over pre-observational time scales.

Greg Balco et al.

Status: open (until 28 Oct 2023)

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Greg Balco et al.


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Short summary
We describe a new method of reconstructing the long-term, pre-observational frequency and/or intensity of wildfires in forested landscapes using trace concentrations of the noble gases helium and neon that are formed in soil mineral grains by cosmic-ray bombardment of the Earth's surface.