Skip to main content

Disentangling Geomagnetic and Precipitation Signals in an 80-kyr Chinese Loess Record of 10Be

  • Weijian Zhou (a1) (a2), Alfred Priller (a3), J Warren Beck (a4), Wu Zhengkun (a1), Chen Maobai (a1) (a5), An Zhisheng (a1), Walter Kutschera (a3), Xian Feng (a1), Yu Huagui (a1) and Liu Lin (a1)...

The cosmogenic radionuclide 10Be is produced by cosmic-ray spallation in Earth's atmosphere. Its production rate is regulated by the geomagnetic field intensity, so that its accumulation rate in aeolian sediments can, in principle, be used to derive high-resolution records of geomagnetic field changes. However, 10Be atmospheric fallout rate also varies locally depending on rainfall rate. The accumulation rate of 10Be in sediments is further complicated by overprinting of the geomagnetic and precipitation signals by 10Be attached to remobilized dust, which fell from the atmosphere at some time in the past. Here, we demonstrate that these signals can be deconvoluted to derive both geomagnetic field intensity and paleoprecipitation records of Asian Monsoon intensity in an 80,000-yr-long 10Be record from Chinese loess. The strong similarity between our derived paleomagnetic intensity record and the SINT 200 (Guyodo and Valet 1996) and NAPIS 75 (Laj et al. 2002) stacked-marine records suggests that this method might be used to produce multimillion-yr-long records of paleomagnetic intensity from loess. This technique also reveals a new method for extracting quantitative paleoprecipitation records from continental interior regions. Our derived precipitation record is broadly similar to the speleothem δ18O-based records of paleo-Asian Monsoon intensity from Dongge (Yuan et al. 2004) and Hulu (Wang et al. 2001) caves, and suggests that the paleo-Asian Monsoon intensity may be responding to a combination of both Northern and Southern Hemisphere insolation forcing.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Disentangling Geomagnetic and Precipitation Signals in an 80-kyr Chinese Loess Record of 10Be
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Disentangling Geomagnetic and Precipitation Signals in an 80-kyr Chinese Loess Record of 10Be
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Disentangling Geomagnetic and Precipitation Signals in an 80-kyr Chinese Loess Record of 10Be
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All
Aitken, MJ. 1998. An Introduction to Optical Dating. London: Oxford University Press. 280 p.
An, Z, Kukla, GJ, Porter, SC, Xiao, J. 1991. Magnetic susceptibility evidence of monsoon variation on the Loess Plateau of central China during the last 130,000 years. Quaternary Research 36(1):2936.
An, Z, Porter, SC, Kutzbach, JE, Wu, X, Wang, S, Liu, X, Li, X, Zhou, W. 2000. Asynchronous Holocene optimum of the East Asian Monsoon. Quaternary Science Reviews 19(8):743–62.
Beer, J, Shen, CD, Heller, F, Liu, TS, Bonani, G, Dittrich, B, Suter, M, Kubik, PW. 1993. 10Be and magnetic susceptibility in Chinese loess. Geophysical Research Letters 20(1):5760.
Beer, J, Muscheler, R, Wagner, G, Laj, C, Kissel, C, Kubik, PW, Synal, H-A. 2002. Cosmogenic nuclides during Isotope Stages 2 and 3. Quaternary Science Reviews 21(10):1129–39.
Berger, A, Loutre, MF. 1991. Insolation values for the climate of the last 10 million years. Quaternary Science Reviews 10(4):297317.
Bevington, PR, Robinson, DK. 1969. Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2001. Development of the radiocarbon calibration program. Radiocarbon 43(2A):355–63.
Caillet, S, Arpagaus, P, Monna, F, Dominik, J. 2001. Factors controlling 7Be and 210Pb atmospheric deposition as revealed by sampling individual rain events in the region of Geneva, Switzerland. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 53(2):241–56.
Clemens, SC, Prell, WL. 2003. A 350,000 year summer-monsoon multi-proxy stack from the Owen Ridge, Northern Arabian Sea. Marine Geology 201(1–3):3551.
Clemens, SC, Murray, DW, Prell, WL. 1996. Nonstationary phase of the Plio-Pleistocene Asian Monsoon. Science 274(5289):943–8.
Evans, ME, Heller, F. 2001. Magnetism of loess/palaeosol sequences: recent developments. Earth-Science Reviews 54(1–3):129–44.
Gu, Z, Lal, D, Southon, J, Caffee, MW, Guo, ZT, Chen, MY. 1996. Five million year 10Be record in Chinese loess and red-clay: climate and weathering relationships. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 144(1–2):273–87.
Guyodo, Y, Valet, J-P. 1996. Relative variations in geomagnetic intensity from sedimentary records: the past 200,000 years. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 143(1–4):2336.
Heller, F, Shen, CD, Beer, J, Liu, XM, Liu, TS, Bronger, A, Suter, M, Bonani, G. 1993. Quantitative estimates of pedogenic ferromagnetic mineral formation in Chinese loess and palaeoclimatic implications. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 114(2–3):385–90.
Hughen, K, Lehman, S, Southon, J, Overpeck, J, Marchal, O, Herring, C, Turnbull, J. 2004. 14C activity and global carbon cycle changes over the past 50,000 years. Science 303(5655):202–7.
Ishikawa, Y, Murakami, H, Sekine, T, Yoshihara, K. 1995. Precipitation scavenging studies of radionuclides in air using cosmogenic 7Be. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 26(1):1936.
Jeter, SM. 2003. Evaluating uncertainty of polynomial regression models using Excel. In: Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Nashville, USA: American Society for Engineering Education. p 9891007.
Johnsen, SJ, Dahl-Jensen, D, Gunderstrup, N, Steffensen, JP, Clausen, HB, Miller, H, Masson-Delmotte, V, Sveinbjörnsdóttir, AE, White, J. 2001. Oxygen isotope and palaeotemperature records from six Greenland ice-core stations: Camp Century, Dye-3, GRIP, GISP2, Renland and NorthGRIP. Journal of Quaternary Science 16(4):299307.
Kukla, G, An, Z, Melice, JL, Gavin, J, Xiao, JL. 1990. Magnetic susceptibility record of Chinese loess. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Earth Sciences 81:263–88.
Laj, C, Kissel, C, Mazaud, A, Michel, E, Muscheler, R, Beer, J. 2002. Geomagnetic field intensity, North Atlantic Deep Water circulation and atmospheric Δ14C during the last 50 kyr. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 200(1–2):177–90.
Liu, T, Ding, Z. 1998. Chinese loess and the paleomonsoon. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 26:111–45.
Lu, YC, Wang, XL, Wintle, AG. 2007. A new OSL chronology for dust accumulation in the last 130,000 years for the Chinese Loess Plateau. Quaternary Research 67(1):152–60.
Maher, BA, Taylor, RM. 1988. Formation of ultrafine-grained magnetite in soils. Nature 336(6197):368–70.
Maher, BA, Thompson, R. 1991. Mineral magnetic record of Chinese loess and paleosols. Geology 19(1):36.
Maher, BA, Thompson, R. 1995. Paleorainfall reconstructions from pedogenic magnetic susceptibility variations in the Chinese loess and paleosols. Quaternary Research 44(3):383–91.
Masarik, J, Beer, J. 1999. Simulation of particle fluxes and cosmogenic nuclide production in the Earth's atmosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research 104(D10):12,099112.
McHargue, LR, Donahue, D, Damon, PE, Sonett, P, Biddulph, D, Burr, G. 2000. Geomagnetic modulation of the late Pleistocene cosmic-ray flux as determined by 10Be from Blake Outer Ridge marine sediments. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172(1–4):555–61.
Pan, Y, Zhu, R, Shaw, J, Liu, Q, Guo, B. 2001. Can relative paleointensities be determined from the normalized magnetization of the wind-blown loess of China? Journal of Geophysical Research 106(B9): 19,22132.
Porter, SC. 2001. Chinese loess record of monsoon climate during the last glacial-interglacial cycle. Earth-Science Reviews 54(1–3):115–28.
Porter, SC, An, Z. 1995. Correlation between climate events in the North Atlantic and China during the last glaciation. Nature 375(6529):305–8.
Porter, SC, Hallet, B, Wu, X, An, Z. 2001. Dependence of near-surface magnetic susceptibility on dust accumulation rate and precipitation on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Quaternary Research 55(3):271–83.
Priller, A, Brandl, T, Gosler, R, Kutchera, W, Puchegger, S, Rom, W, Steier, P, Vockenhuber, C, Wallner, A, Wild, E. 2000. Extension of the measuring capabilities at VERA. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172(1–4):100–6.
Priller, A, Berger, M, Gäggler, HW, Gerasopoulos, E, Kubik, PW, Schnabel, C, Tobler, L, Wild, E-M, Zanis, P, Zerefos, C. 2004. Accelerator mass spectrometry of particle-bound 10Be. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 223–224:601–7.
Reimer, PJ, Baillie, MGL, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, JW, Bertrand, C, Blackwell, PG, Buck, CE, Burr, GS, Cutler, KB, Damon, PE, Edwards, RL, Fairbanks, RG, Friedrich, M, Guilderson, TP, Hughen, KA, Kromer, B, McCormac, FG, Manning, S, Bronk Ramsey, C, Reimer, RW, Remmele, S, Southon, JR, Stuiver, M, Talamo, S, Taylor, FW, van der Plicht, J, Weyhenmeyer, CE. 2004. IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 cal kyr BP. Radiocarbon 46(3):1029–58.
Shen, C, Beer, J, Liu, T, Oeschger, H, Bonani, G, Suter, M, Wölfli, W. 1992. 10Be in Chinese loess. Earth and Planetary Science Utters 109(1–2):169–77.
Wagner, G, Beer, J, Laj, C, Kissel, C, Masarik, J, Muscheler, R, Synal, H-A. 2000. Chlorine-36 evidence for the Mono Lake event in the Summit GRIP ice core. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 181(1–2):16.
Wallbrink, PJ, Murray, AS. 1994. Fallout of 7Be in south eastern Australia. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 25(3):213–28.
Wang, YJ, Cheng, H, Edwards, RL, An, ZS, Wu, JY, Shen, C-C, Dorale, JA. 2001. A high-resolution absolute-dated late Pleistocene monsoon record from Hulu Cave, China. Science 294:2345–8.
Wu, ZK. 2004. High-resolution 10Be record from the middle part of the Loess Plateau, and the reconstruction of East Asian Monsoon history over the last 130 ka [PhD dissertation]. Xi'an, China: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an Branch.
Yang, S, Odah, H, Shaw, J. 2000. Variations in the geomagnetic dipole moment over the last 12,000 years. Geophysical Journal International 140(1):158–62.
Yuan, D, Cheng, H, Edwards, RL, Dykoski, CA, Kelly, MJ, Zhang, M, Qing, J, Lin, Y, Wang, Y, Wu, J, Dorale, JA, An, Z, Cai, Y. 2004. Timing, duration, and transitions of the last interglacial Asian Monsoon. Science 304(5670):575–8.
Zheng, H, Rolph, T, Shaw, J, An, Z. 1995. A detailed palaeomagnetic record for the last interglacial period. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 133(3–4):339–51.
Zhou, LP, Oldfield, F, Wintle, AG, Robinson, SG, Wang, JT. 1990. Partly pedogenic origin of magnetite variations in Chinese loess. Nature 346(6286):737–9.
Zhou, W, Head, MJ, An, Z, De Deckker, P, Liu, Z, Liu, X, Lu, X, Donahue, D, Jull, AJT, Beck, JW. 2001. Terrestrial evidence for a spatial structure of tropical-polar interconnections during the Younger Dryas episode. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 191(3–4):231–9.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 46 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 67 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.