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American Mineralogist

Journal of Earth and Planetary Materials

Ed. by Baker, Don / Xu, Hongwu / Swainson, Ian

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 2.631

CiteScore 2018: 2.55

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Volume 102, Issue 5


Single-track length measurements of step-etched fission tracks in Durango apatite: “Vorsprung durch Technik

Raymond Jonckheere / Murat T. Tamer
  • Geologie, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, 09599 Freiberg (Sachsen), Germany
  • Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Bastian Wauschkuhn / Florentine Wauschkuhn / Lothar Ratschbacher
Published Online: 2017-05-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2017-5988


Fossil and induced confined fission-tracks in the Durango apatite do not etch to their full etchable lengths with the current protocols. Their mean lengths continue to increase at a diminished rate past the break in slope in a length vs. etch-time plot. The mean length of the fossil tracks increases from 14.5(1) to 16.2(1) μm and that of the induced tracks from 15.7(1) to 17.9(1) μm between 20 and 60 s etching (5.5 M HNO3; 21 °C); both are projected to converge toward ~18 μm after ~180 s. This increase is due to track etching, not bulk etching. The irregular length increments of individual tracks reveal a discontinuous track structure in the investigated length intervals. The mean lengths of the fossil and induced tracks for the standard etch time (20 s) for the (5.5 M HNO3; 21 °C) etch are thus not the result of a shortening of the latent fission tracks but instead of a lowering of the effective track-etch rate νT. The rate of length increase of individual fossil confined tracks correlates with their length: older tracks are shorter because they etch slower. Step etching thus makes it possible to some extent to distinguish between older and younger fossil fission tracks. Along-track νT measurements could reveal further useful paleo-temperature information. Because the etched length of a track at standard etch conditions is not its full etchable length, geometrical statistics based on continuous line segments of fixed length are less secure than hitherto held.

Keywords: Durango apatite; fission track; step etching; confined-track length

Special collection papers can be found online at http://www.minsocam.org/MSA/AmMin/special-collections.html.

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About the article

Received: 2016-10-18

Accepted: 2016-12-28

Published Online: 2017-05-06

Published in Print: 2017-05-24

Citation Information: American Mineralogist, Volume 102, Issue 5, Pages 987–996, ISSN (Online) 1945-3027, ISSN (Print) 0003-004X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2017-5988.

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© 2017 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.

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