Abstract

Dust plays important roles in the environment, and there has been much interest in the formation, provenance, and age of the world's dust deposits. Ongoing debates are concerned with the importance of glacial grinding versus eolian abrasion and fluvial transport in the formation of silt-sized particles. Short-lived uranium-series isotopes afford new insights because they can be used both for provenance fingerprinting and for constraining the integrated age of chemical and physical weathering and subsequent transport and storage of sediments. Here we present trace element and Sr, Nd, and U-series isotope analyses from a number of Australian dusts and suspended river sediments remobilized during floods a year later. The inferred ages of the Australian dust appear to be linked to aridification and the loss of inland megalakes ∼30–120 k.y. ago. This provides preliminary evidence that the age of dust may provide a new hydrological indicator in arid environments.

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