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Numerical investigations of apatite ^4He/^3He thermochronometry

Farley, K. A. and Shuster, D. L. and Watson, E. B. and Wanser, K. H. and Balco, G. (2010) Numerical investigations of apatite ^4He/^3He thermochronometry. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 11 (10). Art. No. Q10001. ISSN 1525‐2027.

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Apatite ^4He/^3He thermochronometry has the potential to constrain cooling histories for individual samples provided that several presently untested assumptions are valid. Here we simulate the sensitivity of ^4He/^3He spectra to assumptions regarding geometric model, crystallographic anisotropy, broken grain terminations, parent nuclide zonation, and the accuracy of results obtained from analyses of aggregates of multiple crystals. We find that ^4He/^3He spectra obtained from a cylinder with isotropic diffusion are almost indistinguishable from those obtained from an equivalent sphere with an equivalent initial ^4He distribution. Under similar conditions anisotropic diffusion from the cylinder can greatly bias ^4He/^3He spectra, but only if diffusion is >10 times faster in the axial than the radial direction. Existing data argue against anisotropy of this magnitude. We find that analysis of apatites with broken terminations will also bias ^4He/^3He spectra, but not greatly so. In contrast, we find that zonation of a factor of 3 in parent nuclide concentration produces ^4He/^3He spectra that deviate substantially from the homogeneous model. When parent nuclides are highly concentrated near the grain rim and/or cooling is fast, the resulting ^4He/^3He spectra will be readily identified as aberrant. However, more subtle zonation, higher concentrations in the grain interior, or samples that have cooled slowly regardless of zonation style can yield ^4He/^3He spectra that look acceptable but will lead to inaccurate thermochronometric interpretation if parent homogeneity is assumed. Finally, we find that analysis of an aggregate of crystals with identical ^4He distributions can yield ^4He/^3He spectra (and diffusion Arrhenius arrays) that are very different from those that would be obtained on the individual crystals if even small variations in He diffusion exist among the grains. Overall, our observations suggest that modeling tools that assume spherical geometry and isotropic diffusion are appropriate for interpreting apatite ^4He/^3He spectra. However, it is essential to analyze only individual crystals and to assess the degree of parent nuclide zonation in those crystals.

Item Type:Article
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Farley, K. A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Additional Information:© 2010 American Geophysical Union. Received 27 May 2010; accepted 18 August 2010; published 6 October 2010. This work was supported by NSF grants to K.A.F. (EAR‐ 0738627), D.L.S. (EAR‐0738474), and E.B.W. (EAR‐ 0440228 and EAR‐0738843). D.L.S. also acknowledges the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.
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Ann and Gordon Getty FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:geochronology; He dating; He-4/He-3
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110307-135031219
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Official Citation:Farley, K. A., D. L. Shuster, E. B. Watson, K. H. Wanser, and G. Balco (2010), Numerical investigations of apatite 4He/3He thermochronometry, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 11, Q10001, doi:10.1029/2010GC003243
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:22697
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Mar 2011 18:22
Last Modified:03 Mar 2020 13:01

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