Temperatures recorded by cosmogenic noble gases since the last glacial maximum in the Maritime Alps

Marissa M. Tremblay*, David L. Shuster, Matteo Spagnolo, Hans Renssen, Adriano Ribolini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While proxy records have been used to reconstruct late Quaternary climate parameters throughout the European Alps, our knowledge of deglacial climate conditions in the Maritime Alps is limited. Here, we report temperatures recorded by a new and independent geochemical technique-cosmogenic noble gas paleothermometry-in the Maritime Alps since the last glacial maximum. We measured cosmogenic 3He in quartz from boulders in nested moraines in the Gesso Valley, Italy. Paired with cosmogenic 10Be measurements and 3He diffusion experiments on quartz from the same boulders, the cosmogenic 3He abundances record the temperatures these boulders experienced during their exposure. We calculate effective diffusion temperatures (EDTs) over the last ∼22 ka ranging from 8°C to 25°C. These EDTs, which are functionally related to, but greater than, mean ambient temperatures, are consistent with temperatures inferred from other proxies in nearby Alpine regions and those predicted by a transient general circulation model. In detail, however, we also find different EDTs for boulders from the same moraines, thus limiting our ability to interpret these temperatures. We explore possible causes for these intra-moraine discrepancies, including variations in radiative heating, our treatment of complex helium diffusion, uncertainties in our grain size analyses, and unaccounted-for erosion or cosmogenic inheritance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-791
Number of pages24
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Science Foundation1322086


    • Cosmogenic isotopes
    • Europe
    • paleoclimate
    • Quaternary


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