EGU21-3624, updated on 11 Jan 2022
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Constraining ice core chronologies with 39Ar and 81Kr

Florian Ritterbusch1, Jinho Ahn2, Ji-Qiang Gu1, Wei Jiang1, Giyoon Lee2, Zheng-Tian Lu1, Lili Shao3, Lide Tian3, A-min L. Tong1, and Guo-Ming Yang1
Florian Ritterbusch et al.
  • 1University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China (
  • 2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, 08826, South Korea
  • 3Institute of International Rivers and Eco-security, Yunnan University

Paleoclimate reconstructions from ice core records can be hampered due to the lack of a reliable chronology, especially when the stratigraphy is disturbed and conventional dating methods cannot be readily applied. The noble-gas radioisotopes 81Kr and 39Ar can in these cases provide robust constraints as they yield absolute, radiometric ages. 81Kr (half-life 229 ka) covers the time span of 50-1300 ka, which is particularly relevant for polar ice cores, whereas 39Ar (half-life 269 a) with a dating range of 50-1800 a is suitable for high mountain glaciers. For a long time the use of 81Kr and 39Ar for dating of ice samples was hampered by the lack of a detection technique that can meet its extremely small abundance at a reasonable sample size.

Here, we present 81Kr and 39Ar dating of Antarctic and Tibetan ice cores with the detection method Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA), using 5-10 kg of ice for 81Kr and 2-5 kg for 39Ar. Recent advances in further decreasing the sample size and increasing the dating precision will be discussed. Current studies include 81Kr dating in shallow ice cores from the Larsen Blue ice area, East Antarctica, in order to retrieve climate signals from the last glacial termination. Moreover, an 39Ar profile from a central Tibetan ice core has been obtained in combination with layer counting based on isotopic and visual stratigraphic signals. The presented studies demonstrate how 81Kr and 39Ar can constrain the age range of ice cores and complement other methods in developing an ice core chronology.


[1] Z.-T. Lu, Tracer applications of noble gas radionuclides in the geosciences, Earth-Science Reviews 138, 196-214, (2014)
[2] C. Buizert, Radiometric 81Kr dating identifies 120,000-year-old ice at Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 6876, (2014)

[3] L. Tian, 81Kr Dating at the Guliya Ice Cap, Tibetan Plateau, Geophysical Research Letters, (2019)

How to cite: Ritterbusch, F., Ahn, J., Gu, J.-Q., Jiang, W., Lee, G., Lu, Z.-T., Shao, L., Tian, L., Tong, A.-L., and Yang, G.-M.: Constraining ice core chronologies with 39Ar and 81Kr, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3624,, 2021.


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