CRONUS-EU: Using particles from the galaxy to understand the earth’s surface

July 15, 2005

Brussels, 14 July 2005

CRONUS-EU, an EU-funded research project, will seek to establish a better chronology of the Earth’s surface events. Using cosmic rays, scientists will be able to date changes in landscapes with greater accuracy. The new cosmic-ray methods will shed light on the Earth’s past climate cycles, changes in soil erosion, frequency of floods and landslides, and how weathering of rocks affects global warming and cooling.

Nine research teams from Europe will work closely with a parallel initiative involving 13 Universities from the United States and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Researchers will sample rocks from key sites around the world, expose elements to nuclear beams in high-energy accelerators, and count cosmic-ray impacts with detectors flown to high altitudes in aircraft. The results will be pooled in a wide-ranging effort to understand the fundamentals of these cosmic-ray reactions so that they can routinely be used as methods for reconstructing and analyzing changes in our environment. 

Supernovae, exploding in distant reaches of the galaxy, unleash torrents of fantastically energetic atomic particles. Billions of these cosmic rays impact Earth every year. Remarkably, thanks to CRONUS (Cosmic-Ray prOduced NUclide Systematics), geologists are able to measure the accumulated results of these atomic transmutations in rocks on the Earth’s surface.

In CRONUS-EU and CRONUS-US, two independent initiatives that co-operate on a voluntary basis, scientists in the European Union and at the U.S. National Science Foundation will use these measurements as a “clock” to time the history of Earth’s surface.

CRONUS-EU will train the community of high quality scientists required to develop and apply these techniques for the future benefit of various European science disciplines. Training of early stage and experienced researchers in this novel technique is an integral part of the European CRONUS-EU effort.

The European Union has awarded €3.4 million ($4.4 million) over four years for CRONUS-EU. CRONUS-US has been awarded $5.8 million (€4.8 million) over five years.

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Item source: IP/05/932 Date: 14/07/2005 Previous Item Back to Titles Print Item

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