A study of soil formation rates using 10Be in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia
1 Department of Nuclear Physics, The Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia
2 Department of Geography, National University of Singapore AS2, #04-321 Arts Link, Singapore 117570
3 Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, 0810, Australia
A catchment level study to obtain soil formation rates using beryllium-10 (10Be) tracers has been undertaken in the Daly River Basin in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia. Three soil cores have been collected to bedrock, with depths ranging from ~1-3.5 m. Due to agricultural practices, modern soil loss rates can be significantly higher than long-term soil formation rates, but establishing soil formation rates has proved to be a difficult problem. At long-term equilibrium, however, soil formation from the underlying rock is balanced by soil loss from the surface. This long-term rate at which soil is being lost can be determined using the cosmogenic tracer 10Be, created in spallation of atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen by cosmic rays. Since the annual fallout rate of 10Be is known, the complete 10Be inventory over the depth of the top soil can be used to establish the soil formation rates.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2012