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Rapid age assessment of glacial landforms in the Pyrenees using Schmidt hammer exposure dating (SHED)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2018

Matt D. Tomkins*
Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, ManchesterM13 9PL, United Kingdom
Jason M. Dortch
Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, ManchesterM13 9PL, United Kingdom Kentucky Geological Survey, 228 Mining and Mineral Resources Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky40506, USA
Philip D. Hughes
Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, ManchesterM13 9PL, United Kingdom
Jonny J. Huck
Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, ManchesterM13 9PL, United Kingdom
Andrew G. Stimson
Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, ManchesterM13 9PL, United Kingdom
Magali Delmas
Université de Perpignan Via-Domitia, UMR 7194 CNRS Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme Préhistorique, 66860 Perpignan Cedex, France
Marc Calvet
Université de Perpignan Via-Domitia, UMR 7194 CNRS Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme Préhistorique, 66860 Perpignan Cedex, France
Raimon Pallàs
Departament de Dinàmica de la Terra i de l’Oceà, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028Barcelona, Spain
*Corresponding author at: Cryosphere Research at Manchester, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom. E-mail address: (M.D. Tomkins).


Schmidt hammer (SH) sampling of 54 10Be-dated granite surfaces from the Pyrenees reveals a clear relationship between exposure and weathering through time (n=52, R2=0.96, P<0.01) and permits the use of the SH as a numerical dating tool. To test this 10Be-SH calibration curve, 100 surfaces were sampled from five ice-front positions in the Têt catchment, eastern Pyrenees, with results verified against independent 10Be and 14C ages. Gaussian modelling differentiates Holocene (9.4±0.6 ka), Younger Dryas (12.6±0.9 ka), Oldest Dryas (16.1±0.5 ka), last glacial maximum (LGM; 24.8±0.9 ka) and Würmian maximum ice extent stages (MIE; 40.9±1.1 ka). These data confirm comparable glacier lengths during the LGM and MIE (~300 m difference), in contrast to evidence from the western Pyrenees (≥15 km), reflecting the relative influence of Atlantic and Mediterranean climates. Moreover, Pyrenean glaciers advanced significantly during the LGM, with a local maximum at ~25 ka, driven by growth of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, southward advection of the polar front, and a solar radiation minimum in the Northern Hemisphere. This calibration curve is available online ( to enable wider application of this method throughout the Pyrenees.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2018 

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