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The effects of long alpha-stopping distances on (U-Th)/He ages

Farley, K. A. and Wolf, R. A. and Silver, L. T. (1996) The effects of long alpha-stopping distances on (U-Th)/He ages. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 60 (21). pp. 4223-4229. ISSN 0016-7037. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20121120-143017682

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Abstract

A mathematical framework for quantitative evaluation of alpha-stopping effects on (U-Th)/He ages has been developed. Alpha stopping ranges in the ^(238)U, ^(235)U, and ^(232)Th chains vary between ∼10 and ∼30 μm, depending on decay energy and density/composition of the stopping medium. In the case of U- and Th-rich accessory minerals (e.g. apatite, zircon, titanite), the dominant effect of long stopping distances is alpha ejection to adjacent minerals. For grains smaller than a few hundred microns in minimum dimension, ejection effects will cause measured helium ages to substantially underestimate true ages. For example, a sphere of 100 μm radius retains only ∼82% of its alphas. For a homogeneous distribution of parent nuclides, the fraction of alphas ejected is ∼ 1/4 of the mean alpha range multiplied by the crystal surface to volume ratio, independent of geometry. Removal of the outer 20 μm of a crystal prior to dating eliminates the region which has experienced alpha loss, but may lead to erroneous ages when crystals are strongly zoned with respect to uranium and thorium. By careful characterization of four sieved apatite separates from a single sample, we show that it is possible to accurately correct (U-Th)/He ages for alpha ejection even when ejection exceeds 35% of total decays. Our results are useful for identifying the size and shape of grains which are best suited for (U-Th)/He dating and provide the basis for correcting ages when ejection effects are significant. This work underscores that meaningful (U-Th)/He ages require either large crystals, or correction of measured ages for alpha ejection.


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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7037(96)00193-7DOIUNSPECIFIED
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016703796001937PublisherUNSPECIFIED
Additional Information:© 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd. Received January 10, 1996; accepted in revised form June 8, 1996. Editorial handling: D. E. Fisher. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation. We thank P. Damon and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the manuscript.
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Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121120-143017682
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20121120-143017682
Official Citation:K.A. Farley, R.A. Wolf, L.T. Silver, The effects of long alpha-stopping distances on (U-Th)/He ages, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 60, Issue 21, November 1996, Pages 4223-4229, ISSN 0016-7037, 10.1016/S0016-7037(96)00193-7. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016703796001937)
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35583
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:20 Nov 2012 22:59
Last Modified:23 Aug 2016 10:21

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