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Most are hydrogen nuclei, some are helium nuclei, and the rest heavier elements.Cosmogenic nuclides (or cosmogenic isotopes) are rare isotopes created when a high-energy cosmic ray interacts with the nucleus of an in situ Solar System atom, causing nucleons (protons and neutrons) to be expelled from the atom (see cosmic ray spallation).

is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological artifacts or ancient human remains – from the distant past.

It can be used on objects as old as about 62,000 years.

Spallation reactions occur in minerals in the rocks upon bombardment by cosmic rays.

By sampling the rocks and separating certain minerals (such as quartz or pyroxene) and calculating the amount of these minerals (as a ratio to other, stable, minerals), we can work out how long the rock has been exposed on the earth’s surface.

This long period of applicability is an added advantage of cosmogenic nuclide dating.