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Posted by / 14-Feb-2017 13:26

Fisson track dating

Since we know the ratios in which the various lead isotopes are usually found, we can then apply the same sort of correction we used to account for atmospheric argon in the K-Ar method.

While zircon has been the most popular mineral for U-Pb dating, other minerals have been employed, including apatite, monazite, titanite, allanite and, most interesting of all, xenotime.

Now since all rocks are somewhat porous, and since we are pretty much obliged to date rocks from near the surface, it's hard to find instances in which uranium has not been lost.

; as you can see from its chemical formula, it is one of the silicate minerals.

Uranium can and often does substitute for the element yttrium, whereas lead cannot, making xenotime suitable for radiometric dating.

The key fact about xenotime is that since it has the same crystal structure as zircon, it can grow on zircon crystals, forming a crust; and this process, of course, cannot begin to take place while the zircon crystal is still locked inside its parent rock.

The reader will find this article much easier to grasp if s/he has already mastered the material in the articles on K-Ar dating, Ar-Ar dating, and Rb-Sr dating.

The zircon will only start acquiring its xenotime crust after weathering and erosion have freed it from its parent rock and it becomes sediment.

So by dating the xenotime crust, we can find out when the zircon it's growing on became sediment; dating the zircon itself would tell you the age of the parent rock.

But of course for isochron dating we need more than one mineral; zircons alone would not be enough.

However, these facts about zircons, combined with what we know about uranium, suggest an alternative method of dating.

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Now lead and uranium are particularly susceptible to such shuffling in the event of even mild metamorphism.

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