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

Matt D. Tomkins, Jason M. Dortch, Philip D. Hughes, Jonny J. Huck, Andrew G. Stimson, Magali Delmas, Marc Calvet, Raimon Pallàs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


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, R 2=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 (http://shed.earth) to enable wider application of this method throughout the Pyrenees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-37
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) with a Dudley Stamp Memorial Award and by the University of Manchester SEED Fieldwork Support Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 University of Washington.


  • Geomorphology
  • Glacier chronology
  • Last glacial maximum
  • Pyrenees
  • Schmidt hammer exposure dating
  • Terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide dating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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