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Cosmogenic dating archaeology

The researchers announced: DATING Sterkfontein has been internationally famous since 1936 for its key hominid and palaeontological discoveries and since the 1950s for its early archaeological finds.

Until now, however, no direct dating of the deposits has been without controversy.

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Empirical measurements, such as ours, include nuclides produced predominately by neutron-induced spallation with percent-level contributions by muon interactions.

Applications include simple burial dating, applied to very deeply buried deposits such as cave sediments; complex burial dating, which can apply minimum and maximum constraints to a burial age; and isochron burial dating, which can be applied to sediment buried beneath only a few meters of overburden.

Cosmogenic 26Al and 10Be in quartz can be used to date when mineral grains were buried, over a timescale ranging up to 5Ma.

Researchers from South Africa, the US, Canada and France today announced new dates pertaining to the internationally famous Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in Gauteng, South Africa.

The announcement was made at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg following the publication of their paper, titled: New cosmogenic burial ages for Sterkfontein Member 2 Australophithecus and Member 5 Oldowan, in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, on 1 April 2015.


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