Dating glacial environments

Dating glacial environments

This section of the website introduces some of the very many different ways in which we can date glacial environments. These techniques have evolved through time, and different techniques are applied in different circumstances.

For example, where organics are available, sediments can be dating using radiocarbon dating. This may be applied in glacial environments by, for example, coring ponds and lakes on top of, inside and outside moraines, and sampling the oldest (basal) part of the core for radiocarbon dating.

However glacial moraines and glacial environments are often barren. Moraines do frequently have large glacially transported boulders on their crests, which can be dated using cosmogenic nuclide exposure-age dating.

These techniques work well for moraines hundreds to thousands of years old. Where moraines are younger than this, we may use archival means (old maps, satellite imagery, old written records), or measure the size of lichens on boulders (lichenometry), or core trees on moraines to see how old they are (dendroglaciology). The means to date glacial environments are varied, and increasingly ingenious.

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