The constancy of galactic cosmic rays as recorded by cosmogenic nuclides in iron meteoritesOPEN ACCESS 

Thomas Smith, David L. Cook, Silke Merchel, Stefan Pavetich, Georg Rugel, Andreas Scharf, Ingo Leya

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
First Published: 21 November 2019


“We measured the He, Ne, and Ar isotopic concentrations and the 10Be, 26Al, 36Cl, and 41Ca concentrations in 56 iron meteorites of groups IIIAB, IIAB, IVA, IC, IIA, IIB, and one ungrouped. From 41Ca and 36Cl data, we calculated terrestrial ages indistinguishable from zero for six samples, indicating recent falls, up to 562 ± 86 ka. Three of the studied meteorites are falls. The data for the other 47 irons confirm that terrestrial ages for iron meteorites can be as long as a few hundred thousand years even in relatively humid conditions. The 36Cl‐36Ar cosmic ray exposure (CRE) ages range from 4.3 ± 0.4 Ma to 652 ± 99 Ma. By including literature data, we established a consistent and reliable CRE age database for 67 iron meteorites. The high quality of the CRE ages enables us to study structures in the CRE age histogram more reliably. At first sight, the CRE age histogram shows peaks at about 400 and 630 Ma. After correction for pairing, the updated CRE age histogram comprises 41 individual samples and shows no indications of temporal periodicity, especially not if one considers each iron meteorite group separately. Our study contradicts the hypothesis of periodic GCR intensity variations (Shaviv 2002, 2003), confirming other studies indicating that there are no periodic structures in the CRE age histogram (e.g., Rahmstorf et al. 2004; Jahnke 2005). The data contradict the hypothesis that periodic GCR intensity variations might have triggered periodic Earth climate changes. The 36Cl‐36Ar CRE ages are on average 40% lower than the 41K‐K CRE ages (e.g., Voshage 1967). This offset can either be due to an offset in the 41K‐K dating system or due to a significantly lower GCR intensity in the time interval 195–656 Ma compared to the recent past. A 40% lower GCR intensity, however, would have increased the Earth temperature by up to 2 °C, which seems unrealistic and leaves an ill‐defined 41K‐K CRE age system the most likely explanation. Finally, we present new 26Al/21Ne and 10Be/21Ne production rate ratios of 0.32 ± 0.01 and 0.44 ± 0.03, respectively.”