Surface exposure cosmogenic nuclide dating
A hopper slowly releases the grains of crushed rock onto a track which vibrates past a very strong electro-magnet.
When a high-energy proton collides with an atom in the Earth’s atmosphere, it can break apart that atom to produce (still high-energy) secondary radiation in the form of neutrons, protons, and other subatomic particles.
Technological developments in the last few decades have allowed more precise measurements of their concentration in terrestrial rock samples and this dating technique is becoming increasingly popular.
I collected the samples in the field in 20: Having collected the samples in the field and received funding to run them, I went up to the Scottish Universities Environmental Reserach Centre (SUERC) laboratories in East Kilbride to start the process!
The non-magnetic particles (such as quartz), aren’t attracted, and take a separate route (see video below).
So, I’ve now left my samples there with the lab staff for a series of etches with hydrofluoric and nitric acid.