Abstract

Physical weathering of rock (spalling), removal of adhered rock varnish, and diffusive loss of noble gases are accelerated by heating in range fires, a dramatic and widespread geomorphic process that must be considered when samples are collected for determining surface exposure ages or for measuring in situ production rates of cosmogenic isotopes. Exposure ages and production rates will be minima if the effects of spalling and/or the effects of accelerated diffusive loss of gaseous isotopes such as He and Ne are not considered. To minimize the effect of fire-induced diffusive loss, samples for noble-gas analysis should be collected 5-10 cm below the rock surface or from outcrops that are unlikely to have been heated by fire. In addition, by determining the concentration of in situ produced cosmogenic isotopes of different half-lives, the magnitude of spalling loss (site-specific erosion rate) can be constrained for each sample.

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