skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Bierman, Paul"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Accurate reconstruction of Laurentide Ice Sheet volume changes following the Last Glacial Maximum is critical for understanding ice sheet contribution to sea-level rise, the resulting influence of meltwater on oceanic circulation, and the spatial and temporal patterns of deglaciation. Here, we provide empirical constraints on Laurentide Ice Sheet thinning during the last deglaciation by measuring in situ cosmogenic 10Be in 81 samples collected along vertical transects of nine mountains in the northeastern United States. In conjunction with 107 exposure age samples over five vertical transects from previous studies, we reconstruct ice sheet thinning history. At peripheral sites (within 200 km of the terminal moraine), we find evidence for ∼600 m of thinning between 19.5 ka and 17.5 ka, which is coincident with the slow initial margin retreat indicated by varve records. At locations >400 km north of the terminal moraine, exposure ages above and below 1200 m a.s.l. exhibit different patterns. Ages above this elevation are variable and older, while lower elevation ages are indistinguishable over 800−1000 m elevation ranges, a pattern that suggests a subglacial thermal boundary at ∼1200 m a.s.l. separating erosive, warm-based ice below and polythermal, minimally erosive ice above. Low-elevation ages from up-ice mountains are betweenmore »15 ka and 13 ka, which suggests rapid thinning of ∼1000 m coincident with Bølling-Allerød warming. These rates of rapid paleo-ice thinning are comparable to those of other vertical exposure age transects around the world and may have been faster than modern basin-wide thinning rates in Antarctica and Greenland, which suggests that the southeastern Laurentide Ice Sheet was highly sensitive to a warming climate.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 14, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  3. Abstract. We collected a debris-rich ice core from a buried icemass in Ong Valley, located in the Transantarctic Mountains in Antarctica. Wemeasured cosmogenic nuclide concentrations in quartz obtained from the icecore to determine the age of the buried ice mass and infer the processesresponsible for the emplacement of the debris currently overlaying the ice.Such ice masses are valuable archives of paleoclimate proxies; however, thepreservation of ice beyond 800 kyr is rare, and therefore much effort hasbeen recently focused on finding ice that is older than 1 Myr. In Ong Valley,the large, buried ice mass has been previously dated at > 1.1 Ma.Here we provide a forward model that predicts the accumulation of thecosmic-ray-produced nuclides 10Be, 21Ne, and 26Al in quartzin the englacial and supraglacial debris and compare the model predictionsto measured nuclide concentrations in order to further constrain the age.Large downcore variation in measured cosmogenic nuclide concentrationssuggests that the englacial debris is sourced both from subglacially derivedmaterial and recycled paleo-surface debris that has experienced surfaceexposure prior to entrainment. We find that the upper section of the icecore is 2.95 + 0.18 / −0.22 Myr old. The average ice sublimation rate duringthis time period is 22.86 + 0.10 / −0.09 m Myr−1, and the surfaceerosion rate of the debris is 0.206 + 0.013 / −0.017 m Myr−1. Burialdating of the recycled paleo-surfacemore »debris suggests that the lower sectionof the ice core belongs to a separate, older ice mass which we estimate tobe 4.3–5.1 Myr old. The ages of these two stacked, separate ice masses canbe directly related to glacial advances of the Antarctic ice sheet andpotentially coincide with two major global glaciations during the early andlate Pliocene epoch when global temperatures and CO2 were higher thanpresent. These ancient ice masses represent new opportunities for gatheringancient climate information.« less
  4. We assess if variations in the in situ cosmogenic 26Al/10Be production ratio expected from nuclear physics are consistent with empirical data, knowledge critical for two-isotope studies. We do this using 313 samples from glacially transported boulders or scoured bedrock with presumed simple exposure histories in the Informal Cosmogenic-nuclide Exposure-age Database (ICE-D) from latitudes between 53°S to 70°N and altitudes up to 5000 m above sea level. Although there were small systematic differences in Al/Be ratios measured in different laboratories, these were not significant and are in part explained by differences in elevation distribution of samples analyzed by each laboratory. We observe a negative correlation between the 26Al/10Be production ratio and elevation (p = 0.0005), consistent with predictions based on the measured energy dependence of nuclear reaction cross-sections and the spatial variability in cosmic-ray energy spectra. We detect an increase in the production ratio with increasing latitude, but this correlation is significant only in a single variate model, and we attribute at least some of the correlation to sample elevation bias because lower latitude samples are typically from higher elevations (and vice versa). Using 6.75 as the 26Al/10Be production ratio globally will bias two-isotope results at higher elevations and perhaps highermore »latitudes. Data reported here support using production rate scaling that incorporates such ratio changes, such as the LSDn scheme, to minimize such biases.« less
  5. Abstract. Long-term erosion rates in Tasmania, at the southern end of Australia's Great Dividing Range, are poorly known; yet, this knowledge is critical for making informed land-use decisions and improving the ecological health of coastal ecosystems. Here, we present quantitative, geologically relevant estimates of erosion rates for the George River basin, in northeast Tasmania, based on in situ-produced 10Be (10Bei) measured from stream sand at two trunk channel sites and seven tributaries (mean: 24.1±1.4 Mgkm-2yr-1; 1σ). These new10Bei-based erosion rates are strongly related to elevation, which appears to control mean annual precipitation and temperature,suggesting that elevation-dependent surface processes influence rates of erosion in northeast Tasmania. Erosion rates are not correlated with slopein contrast to erosion rates along the mainland portions of Australia's Great Dividing Range. We also extracted and measured meteoric 10Be(10Bem) from grain coatings of sand-sized stream sediment at each site, which we normalize to measured concentrations of reactive 9Beand use to estimate 10Bem-based denudation rates for the George River. 10Bem/9Bereac denudation ratesreplicate 10Bei erosion rates within a factor of 3 but are highly sensitive to the value of 9Be that is found in bedrock(9Beparent), which was unmeasured in this study. 10Bem/9Bereac denudation rates seem sensitive to recentmining, forestry, andmore »agricultural land use, all of which resulted in widespread topsoil disturbance. Our findings suggest that10Bem/9Bereac denudation metrics will be most useful in drainage basins that are geologically homogeneous, where recentdisturbances to topsoil profiles are minimal, and where 9Beparent is well constrained.« less
  6. Abstract. River erosion affects the carbon cycle and thus climate by exporting terrigenous carbon to seafloor sediment and by nourishing CO2-consuming marine life. The Yukon River–Bering Sea system preserves rare source-to-sink records of these processes across profound changes in global climate during the past 5 million years (Ma). Here, we expand the terrestrial erosion record by dating terraces along the Charley River, Alaska, and explore linkages among previously published Yukon Rivertributary incision chronologies and Bering Sea sedimentation. Cosmogenic26Al/10Be isochron burial ages of Charley River terraces match previously documented central Yukon River tributary incision from 2.6 to 1.6 Ma during Pliocene–Pleistocene glacial expansion, and at 1.1 Ma during the 1.2–0.7 Ma Middle Pleistocene climate transition. Bering Sea sediments preserve 2–4-fold rate increases of Yukon River-derived continental detritus, terrestrial and marine organic carbon, and silicate microfossil deposition at 2.6–2.1 and 1.1–0.8 Ma. These tightly coupled records demonstrate elevated terrigenous nutrient and carbon export and concomitant Bering Sea productivity in response to climate-forced Yukon River incision. Carbon burial related to accelerated terrestrial erosion may contribute to CO2 drawdown across the Pliocene–Pleistocene and Middle Pleistocene climate transitions observed in many proxy records worldwide.
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 29, 2024
  8. Abstract. We use 25 new measurements of in situ produced cosmogenic 26Al and 10Bein river sand, paired with estimates of dissolved load flux in river water,to characterize the processes and pace of landscape change in central Cuba.Long-term erosion rates inferred from 10Be concentrations in quartzextracted from central Cuban river sand range from3.4–189 Mg km−2 yr−1 (mean 59, median 45). Dissolved loads (10–176 Mg km−2 yr−1; mean 92, median 97), calculated from stream soluteconcentrations and modeled runoff, exceed measured cosmogenic-10Be-derived erosion rates in 18 of 23 basins. This disparity mandatesthat in this environment landscape-scale mass loss is not fully representedby the cosmogenic nuclide measurements. The 26Al / 10Be ratios are lower than expected for steady-state exposure or erosion in 16 of 24 samples. Depressed 26Al / 10Be ratios occur in many of the basins that have the greatest disparity between dissolved loads (high) and erosion rates inferred from cosmogenic nuclide concentrations (low). Depressed 26Al / 10Be ratios are consistentwith the presence of a deep, mixed, regolith layer providing extendedstorage times on slopes and/or burial and extended storage during fluvialtransport. River water chemical analyses indicate that many basins with lower 26Al / 10Be ratios and high 10Be concentrations are underlain at least in part by evaporitic rocks that rapidly dissolve. Our data show that when assessingmore »mass loss in humid tropical landscapes,accounting for the contribution of rock dissolution at depth is particularly important. In such warm, wet climates, mineral dissolution can occur many meters below the surface, beyond the penetration depth of most cosmic rays and thus the production of most cosmogenic nuclides. Our data suggest the importance of estimating solute fluxes and measuring paired cosmogenic nuclides to better understand the processes and rates of mass transfer at a basin scale.« less