The longevity of hillslope soil in SE and NW Australia

L. K. Fifield*, R. J. Wasson, B. Pillans, J. O.H. Stone

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    The cosmogenic nuclide 10Be that is produced in the atmosphere and falls out in rainfall ('garden-variety' 10Be) is used at a site in SE Australia and one in NW Australia to estimate soil formation rates and natural erosion rates. Soil formation rates of 1-7 m/Ma are found at the SE Australian site, while higher rates of 10-27 m/Ma are found in NW Australia. These are compared with estimates of modern erosion rates based on surveys of sedimentation in farm dams or 137Cs in hillslope soils. In both cases, modern erosion rates are markedly higher than either soil formation rates or natural erosion rates measured here. At the NW Australian site, the 10Be data are complemented by measurements of in situ 36Cl in nearby limestone cuesta surfaces. These show that the hard-rock surfaces are eroding more slowly than the soils, and that relief is therefore increasing in this landscape. This contribution to a small but growing body of studies of the likely longevity of hillslope soils in Australia shows that 'garden-variety' 10Be can be a very useful tracer, but only if its transport both within the solum and saprolite is taken in account.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-42
    Number of pages11
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2010


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