A comparative study of accumulation rates derived by He and Th isotope analysis of marine sediments

Franco Marcantonio, Niraj Kumar, Martin Stute, Robert F. Anderson, Michele A. Seidl, Peter Schlosser, Alan Mix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


We present a detailed down-core analysis of helium isotope ratios and concentrations for bulk sediments from the central Equatorial Pacific that span the last two glacial-interglacial cycles. Measured 3He 4He ratios range from 1.0 × 10-5 to 2.1 × 10-4, or 7.4 to 149 times the atmospheric ratio. The 3He from interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) constitutes virtually all of the 3He measured within the sediment. Because carbonate accumulation rates are high in the Equatorial Pacific, the measured 3He concentrations are lower than have been measured elsewhere, and range from 4.7 × 10-13 to 3.0 × 10-12 cm3STP · g-1. If the cosmic dust 3He-flux is constant with time, sediment mass accumulation rates can be determined from the 3He concentration in sediments. The excess 230Th technique is an entirely independent method for calculating sediment mass accumulation rates because its source is in-situ decay of 234U in seawater. To first order, initial excess 230Th activities correlate with 3He concentrations within this core. Based on the 230Th results, we estimate the 3He-flux to the Earth's surface as (9.6 ± 2.0) × 10-16 cm3STP · cm-2 · a-1. If this flux has remained constant over extended periods of time, it can be used to determine sediment accumulation rates beyond the 230Th range (300,000 yr).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-555
Number of pages7
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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