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^4He/^3He thermochronometry

Shuster, David L. and Farley, Kenneth A. (2004) ^4He/^3He thermochronometry. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 217 (1-2). pp. 1-17. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/S0012-821X(03)00595-8.

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Using classical diffusion theory, we present a mathematical technique for the determination of ^4He concentration profiles in minerals. This approach should prove useful for constraining the low-temperature cooling histories of individual samples and for correcting (U–Th)/He ages for partial diffusive loss. The calculation assumes that the mineral of interest contains an artificially produced and uniform distribution of ^3He obtained by proton irradiation [Shuster et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 217 (2004) 19–32]. In minerals devoid of natural helium, this isotope allows measurement of He diffusion coefficients; in minerals with measurable radiogenic He, it permits determination of ^4He profiles arising during ingrowth and diffusion in nature. The ^4He profile can be extracted from stepwise degassing experiments in which the ^4He/^3He ratio is measured. The evolution of the ^4He/^3He ratio as a function of cumulative ^3He released can be compared with forward models to constrain the shape of the profile. Alternatively, we present a linear inversion that can be used to directly solve for the unknown ^4He distribution. The inversion incorporates a standard regularization technique to filter the influence of random measurement errors on the solution. Using either approach we show that stepwise degassing data can yield robust and high-resolution information on the ^4He profile. Profiles of radiogenic He are a sensitive function of the time–Temperate (t–T) path that a cooling sample experienced. Thus, by step heating a proton-irradiated sample it is possible to restrict the sample’s acceptable t–T paths. The sensitivity of this approach was explored by forward-modeling ^4He profiles resulting from a range of realistic t–T paths, using apatite as an example. Results indicate that ^4He profiles provide rich information on t–T paths, especially when the profiles are coupled with (U–Th)/He cooling ages on the same sample. Samples that experienced only moderate diffusive loss have ^4He concentration profiles that are rounded at the edge but uniform in the core of the diffusion domain. Such profiles can be identified by nearly invariant ^4He/^3He ratios after the first few to few tens of percent of ^3He have been extracted by step heating. We show how such data can be used to correct (U–Th)/He ages for partial diffusive loss.

Item Type:Article
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Farley, Kenneth A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Additional Information:© 2003 Elsevier B.V. Received 25 April 2003; received in revised form 18 June 2003; accepted 7 October 2003. We thank D. Burnett, T. Schneider, B. Weiss and F. Albarède for helpful discussions and B. Watson and S. Kelley for reviews of the manuscript. We are grateful to T. Schneider for help with the inversion mathematics. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation. D.L.S. was supported by a N.S.F. Graduate Research Fellowship.[BW]
Group:UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:helium; diffusion; thermochronometry; isotope; proton beam; (U–Th)/He
Issue or Number:1-2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121119-102114643
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:David L. Shuster, Kenneth A. Farley, 4He/3He thermochronometry, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 217, Issues 1–2, 1 January 2004, Pages 1-17, ISSN 0012-821X, 10.1016/S0012-821X(03)00595-8. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35537
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:19 Nov 2012 18:34
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:16

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