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Rapid age assessment of glacial landforms in the Pyrenees using Schmidt hammer exposure dating (SHED)

  • Matt D. Tomkins (a1), Jason M. Dortch (a1) (a2), Philip D. Hughes (a1), Jonny J. Huck (a1), Andrew G. Stimson (a1), Magali Delmas (a3), Marc Calvet (a3) and Raimon Pallàs (a4)...

Schmidt hammer (SH) sampling of 54 10Be-dated granite surfaces from the Pyrenees reveals a clear relationship between exposure and weathering through time (n=52, R 2=0.96, P<0.01) and permits the use of the SH as a numerical dating tool. To test this 10Be-SH calibration curve, 100 surfaces were sampled from five ice-front positions in the Têt catchment, eastern Pyrenees, with results verified against independent 10Be and 14C ages. Gaussian modelling differentiates Holocene (9.4±0.6 ka), Younger Dryas (12.6±0.9 ka), Oldest Dryas (16.1±0.5 ka), last glacial maximum (LGM; 24.8±0.9 ka) and Würmian maximum ice extent stages (MIE; 40.9±1.1 ka). These data confirm comparable glacier lengths during the LGM and MIE (~300 m difference), in contrast to evidence from the western Pyrenees (≥15 km), reflecting the relative influence of Atlantic and Mediterranean climates. Moreover, Pyrenean glaciers advanced significantly during the LGM, with a local maximum at ~25 ka, driven by growth of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, southward advection of the polar front, and a solar radiation minimum in the Northern Hemisphere. This calibration curve is available online ( to enable wider application of this method throughout the Pyrenees.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author at: Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom. E-mail address: (M.D. Tomkins).
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