Global fall-out from atmospheric testing of thermonuclear weapons produced horizon markers corresponding to the initiation of testing in 1953 and the maximum fall-out in 1963. The radioactive isotope 137Cs associated with these events has a half-life of 30.2 years. Therefore, with the appropriate radiation detectors, this fall-out can be used as a long-term temporal indicator in glaciers and snowpack. A prototype γ-ray detector system was successfully tested and was used to make in-situ measurements of the 137Cs marker in a borehole at Summit, Greenland. The system consisted of a 7.6 cm by 7.6 cm NaI (Tl) scintillation crystal/photomultiplier detector, commercial pre-amplifier, amplifier and power supplies, and a microcomputer-based pulse-height analyzer. The measurements were made in boreholes of 25.4 cm and 12.7 cm diameter to depths of 22 m. Based on the results reported here, the γ-ray detection technique promises to be a powerful way to locate quickly horizon markers in the field. -Authors

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Glaciology


International Glaciological Society

Document Type