Beryllium: the rain bringeth and the rain taketh away

High in Earth’s atmosphere, cosmic rays collide with oxygen atoms, shattering the oxygen into smaller atoms, including radioactive beryllium-10. Atmospheric beryllium-10 that falls to Earth’s surface — in precipitation or aboard dust particles — is known as meteoric beryllium-10. Researchers often use the ratio of meteoric beryllium-10 to nonradioactive beryllium-9 in soil as a tracer of soil age and processes. As beryllium-10 has a long half-life — about 1.4 million years — scientists have used it for studies of both short- or long-term soil dynamics.

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Adityarup "Rup" Chakravorty

Chakravorty is a postdoctoral researcher studying herpesviruses by day, and a freelance writer once the sun goes down.

Monday, February 25, 2019 - 06:00