Confined fission-track revelation in apatite: how it works and why it matters

Ketcham, Richard A.; Tamer, Murat T.

We present a new model for the etching and revelation of confined fission tracks in apatite based on variable along-track etching velocity, inline-formulavT(x). Insights from step-etching experiments and theoretical energy loss rates of fission fragments suggest two end-member etching structures: constant-core, with a central zone of constant etching rate that then falls off toward track tips; and linear, in which etching rates fall linearly from the midpoint to the tips. From these, we construct a characterization of confined track revelation that encompasses all relevant processes, including penetration and widening of semi-tracks etching in from the polished grain surface, intersection with and expansion of confined tracks, and analyst selection of which tracks to measure and which to bypass. Both etching structures are able to fit step-etching data from five sets of paired experiments of fossil tracks and unannealed and annealed induced tracks in Durango apatite, supporting the correctness of our approach and providing a series of insights into the theory and practice of fission-track thermochronology. Etching rates for annealed induced tracks are much faster than those for unannealed induced and spontaneous tracks, impacting the relative efficiency of both confined track length and density measurements and suggesting that high-temperature laboratory annealing may induce a transformation in track cores that does not occur at geological conditions of partial annealing. The model quantifies how variation in analyst selection criteria, summarized as the ratio of along-track to bulk etching velocity at the etched track tip (inline-formula M2inlinescrollmathml v normal T / v normal B 29pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg5e6c943bd3f577f17869e2a2850f9392 gchron-3-433-2021-ie00001.svg29pt14ptgchron-3-433-2021-ie00001.png ), likely plays a first-order role in the reproducibility of confined length measurements. It also accounts for and provides an estimate of the large proportion of tracks that are intersected but not measured, and it shows how length biasing is likely to be an insufficient basis for predicting the relative probability of detection of different track populations. The inline-formulavT(x) model provides an approach to optimizing etching conditions, linking track length measurements across etching protocols, and discerning new information on the underlying structure of fission tracks.



Ketcham, Richard A. / Tamer, Murat T.: Confined fission-track revelation in apatite: how it works and why it matters. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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Rechteinhaber: Richard A. Ketcham

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