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Noble Gases as Tracers of Extraterrestrial Dust Flux

The records of noble gas variation in sediments and polar ice can be used to trace relationships between solar system processes (such as asteroid and comet impacts, and the accretion of extraterrestrial dust) and key events in Earth history (such as biological mass extinctions, the enigmatic climate cycles of the last million years, and the role of the sun in climate forcing). Interplanetary dust variations might also provide a stratigraphic marker to link terrestrial and marine sedimentary chronologies. Interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) in sediments and ice obtain their noble gas inventory primarily by implantation from the solar wind or solar energetic particles. The best example is helium; in marine sediments and glacier ice helium is essentially a binary mixture of extraterrestrial (high 3He/4He) and terrigenous (low 3He/4He) sources. The noble gas geochemistry lab allows us to explore emerging areas of research based on sediment- and ice-borne IDPs that can require relatively large numbers of measurements, and this invites experimentation to explore its full potential.