Regolith production and transport at the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory, part 2: Insights from meteoric10Be

Nicole West, Eric Kirby, Paul Bierman, Rudy Slingerland, Lin Ma, Dylan Rood, Susan Brantley

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93 Scopus citations


Regolith-mantled hillslopes are ubiquitous features of most temperate landscapes, and their morphology reflects the climatically, biologically, and tectonically mediated interplay between regolith production and downslope transport. Despite intensive research, few studies have quantified both of these mass fluxes in the same field site. Here we present an analysis of 87 meteoric 10Be measurements from regolith and bedrock within the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory (SSHO), in central Pennsylvania. Meteoric 10Be concentrations in bulk regolith samples (n=73) decrease with regolith depth. Comparison of hillslope meteoric 10Be inventories with analyses of rock chip samples (n=14) from a 24 m bedrock core confirms that >80% of the total inventory is retained in the regolith. The systematic downslope increase of meteoric 10Be inventories observed at SSHO is consistent with 10Be accumulation in slowly creeping regolith (∼ 0.2 cm yr-1). Regolith flux inferred from meteoric 10Be varies linearly with topographic gradient (determined from high-resolution light detection and ranging-based topography) along the upper portions of hillslopes at SSHO. However, regolith flux appears to depend on the product of gradient and regolith depth where regolith is thick, near the base of hillslopes. Meteoric 10Be inventories at the north and south ridgetops indicate minimum regolith residence times of 10.5 ± 3.7 and 9.1 ± 2.9 ky, respectively, similar to residence times inferred from U-series isotopes in Ma et al. (2013). The combination of our results with U-series-derived regolith production rates implies that regolith production and erosion rates are similar to within a factor of two on SSHO hillcrests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1877-1896
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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