Indurated pedogenic carbonate layers (calcretes) are common in soils on stable surfaces in arid to semiarid climates. The morphology and composition of calcretes provide important information on the geomorphic and climatic histories of the regions where they are formed, but they have proved difficult to date with conventional radiometric methods. We report cosmogenic 36Cl-buildup ages from three fractions (leachable Cl, carbonate, silicate) of a calcrete from the surface of an alluvial slope below the Ajo Mountains in southern Arizona. All three fractions give reasonably concordant ages, ranging from 700 ka at the base of the calcrete horizon to 200 ka at its top. These ages are in good agreement both with estimates of age based on correlation with similar, independently dated, soils in the region and with 36Cl-buildup ages on surficial boulders. These results support the ideas that calcretes accumulate upward with time and that water movement through the carbonate matrix is very limited after induration.

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