Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

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

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.355
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.103

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 102, Issue 7


Radon emanation coefficients of several minerals: How they vary with physical and mineralogical properties

Katherine Krupp / Mark Baskaran / Sarah J. Brownlee
Published Online: 2017-07-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2017-6017


The escape rates of radon gas from rocks and minerals are of great relevance to many branches of geosciences, and it is, thus, important to understand the physical and mineralogical properties that control radon emanation rates. Mechanisms of radon loss from minerals have direct bearing on the reliability of U-Pb and U-Th-He geochronology. Fourteen minerals from three different mineral groups and with localities spanning three continents were selected for this study. The radon emanation coefficients (REC) for each mineral were measured as a function of grain size, temperature, 238U and 232Th activities, total absorbed α-dose, density, and mineral melting temperature. The measured 238U and 232Th activities ranged from 0.01 to 6487 Bq/g and from below detection limit to 776 Bq/g, respectively. The REC values for unheated, pulverized samples ranged from 0.083 to 7.0%, which is comparable to previously reported ranges (except for zircon). An inverse correlation between grain size and REC was observed. Full annealing of fission tracks resulted in an overall decrease in REC values, suggesting that nuclear tracks could possibly act as conduits for radon release. While activity, α dose, density, and melting temperatures are not strongly correlated with REC values, it was observed that minerals with high melting points (≥1400 °C) have lower REC values, most likely due to inhibition of radon release by compact crystal-lattice structures. This is the first attempt, to our knowledge, to correlate REC values with melting temperature, and this study reports six minerals for which no REC values have been previously reported.

Keywords: Radon emanation; REC; metamict minerals; nuclear track annealing; uranium; Invited Centennial article

References cited

  • Amin, B.S. (1986) Using radon as probe for investigating characteristics of fractures in crystalline minerals. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, 17, 527–529.Google Scholar

  • Barretto, P.M.C. (1978) Emanation characteristics of terrestrial and lunar materials and the 222Rn loss effect on the U-Pb system discordance. Ph.D. thesis, Rice University.Google Scholar

  • Baskaran, M. (2016) Mechanisms of radon emanation and long-term radon flux studies. In M. Baskaran, Ed., Radon: A Tracer for Geological, Geophysical and Geochemical Studies. Springer, Switzerland, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-21329–3.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Broecker, W.S., Li, Y.H., and Cromwell, J. (1967) Radium-226 and radon-222—concentration in Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Science, 158, 1307–1310.Google Scholar

  • Corfu, F. (2012) A century of U-Pb geochronology: the long quest towards concordance. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 125, 33–47.Google Scholar

  • Eakin, M., Brownlee, S.J., Baskaran, M., and Barbero, L. (2016) Mechanisms of radon loss from zircon: microstructural controls on emanation and diffusion. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 184, 212–226.Google Scholar

  • Fleischer, R.L. (1982) Nature of alpha-recoil damage—evidence from preferential solution effects. Nuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements, 6, 35–42.Google Scholar

  • Fleischer, R.L., and Mogrocampero, A. (1985) Association of subsurface radon changes in Alaska and the northeastern United States with earthquakes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 49, 1061–1071.Google Scholar

  • Fleischer, R.L., and Turner, L.G. (1984) Correlations of radon and carbon isotopic measurements with petroleum and natural-gas at cement, Oklahoma. Geophysics, 49, 810–817.Google Scholar

  • Garver, E., and Baskaran, M. (2004) Effects of heating on the emanation rates of radon-222 from a suite of natural minerals. Applied Radiation and Isotopes, 61, 1477–1485.Google Scholar

  • Giletti, B.J., and Kulp, J.L. (1954) Radon leakage from radioactive minerals. Lamont Geological Observatory Contribution No. 162.Google Scholar

  • Goa, Y., Li, X., Griffin, W.L., O’Reilly, S.Y., and Wang, Y. (2014) Screening criteria for reliable U-Pb geochronology and oxygen isotope analysis in uranium-rich zircons: A case study from the SuzhouA-type granites, SE China. Lithos, 192-195, 180–191.Google Scholar

  • Hasheminezhad, S.R., and Durrani, S.A. (1983) Annealing behavior of alpha-recoil tracks in biotite mica—implications for alpha-recoil dating method. Nuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements, 7, 141–146.Google Scholar

  • Heaman, L.M., and LeCheminant, A.N. (2000) Anomalous U-Pb systematics in mantle-derived baddeleyite xenocrysts from He Bizard: evidence for high temperature radon diffusion? Chemical Geology, 172, 77–93.Google Scholar

  • Heaman, L., and Parrish, R. (1991) U-Pb geochronology of accessory minerals. In L. Heaman and J.N. Ludden, Eds., Applications of Radiogenic Isotope Systems to Problems in Geology, p. 59–102. Mineralogical Association of Canada, Nepean.Google Scholar

  • Krishnaswami, S., and Seidemann, D.E. (1988) Comparative study of 22ZRn, 40Ar, 39Ar and 37Ar leakage from rocks and minerals: implications for the role of nanopores in gas transport through natural silicates. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 52, 655–658.Google Scholar

  • Kritz M.A., Rosner, S.W., Kelly, K.K., Loewenstein, M., and Chan, K.R. (1993) Radon measurements in the lower tropical stratosphere: evidence for rapid vertical transport and dehydration of tropospheric air. Journal of Geophysical Research, 98, 8735–8736.Google Scholar

  • Lawrence, C.E., Akber, R.A., Bollhofer, A., and Martin, P. (2009) Radon-222 exhalation from open ground on and around a uranium mine in the wet-dry tropics. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 100, 1–8.Google Scholar

  • Levinson, A.A., Bland, C.J., and Lively, R.S. (1982) Exploration for U ore deposits. In M. Ivanovich and R.S. Harmon, Eds., Uranium Series Disequilibrium, p. 351-383. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar

  • Lide, D.R., Ed. (1998) CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 79th ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar

  • Lipin, B.R. (1984) Chromite from the Blue Ridge Province of North Carolina. American Journal of Science, 284, 507–529.Google Scholar

  • Liu, S.C., McAffee, J.R., and Cicerone, R.J. (1984) Radon-222 and tropospheric vertical transport. Journal of Geophysical Research, 89, 7291–7297.Google Scholar

  • Malczewski, D., and Dziurowicz, M. (2015) 222Rn and 220Rn emanations as a function of the absorbed alpha-doses from select metamict minerals. American Mineralogist, 100, 1378–1385.Google Scholar

  • Mazeina, L., Ushakov, S.V., Navrotsky, A., and Boatner, L.A. (2005) Formation enthalpy of ThSiO4 and enthalpy of the thorite → huttonite phase transition. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 69, 4675–4683.Google Scholar

  • Médard, E., Schmidt, M.W., Schiano, P., and Ottolini, L. (2005) Melting of amphibole-bearing wehrlites: an experimental study on the origin of ultra-calcic nepheline-normative melts. Journal of Petrology, 47, 481–504.Google Scholar

  • Mezger, K., Essene, E.J., van der Pluijm, B.A., and Halliday, A.N. (1992) U-Pb geochronology of the Grenville Orogen of Ontario and New York: constraints on ancient crustal tectonics. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 114, 13–26.Google Scholar

  • Morawska, L., and Phillips, C.R. (1993) Dependence of the radon emanation coefficient on radium distribution and internal structure of the material. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 57, 1783–1797.Google Scholar

  • Murakami, T., Chakoumakos, B.C., Ewing, R.C., Lumpkin, G.R., and Weber, W.J. (1991) Alpha-decay event damage in zircon. American Mineralogist, 76, 1510–1532.Google Scholar

  • Nazaroff, W.W. (1992) Radon transport from soil to air. Reviews of Geophysics, 30, 137–160.Google Scholar

  • Nyman, M.W., Karlstrom, K.E., Kirby, E., and Graubard, C.M. (1994) Mesoproterozoic contractional orogeny in western North America: Evidence from ca. 1.4 Ga Plutons. Geology, 22, 901–904.Google Scholar

  • Opta Minerals (2015) Zircon Sands: Characteristics, http://www.optaminerals.com/Foundry/Zircon-Sand.html.

  • Powell, W.G. (2016) Minerals and their physical properties: Igneous rocks and properties [7040 lecture 6]. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College, New York.Google Scholar

  • Rama, and Moore, W.S. (1984) Mechanism of transport of U-Th series radioisotopes from solids into ground water. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 48, 395–399.Google Scholar

  • Rama, and Moore, W.S. (1990a) Micro-cystallinity in radioactive minerals. Nuclear Geophysics, 4, 475–478.Google Scholar

  • Rama, and Moore, W.S. (1990b) Submicronic porosity in common minerals and emanation of radon. Nuclear Geophysics, 4, 467–473.Google Scholar

  • Sakoda, A., Ishimori, Y., Hanamoto, K., Kataoka, T., Kawabe, A., and Yamaoka, K. (2010) Experimental and modeling studies of grain size and moisture content effects on radon emanation. Radiation Measurements, 45, 204–210.Google Scholar

  • Sakoda, A., Ishimori, Y., and Yamaoka, K. (2011) A comprehensive review of radon emanation measurements for mineral, rock, soil, mill tailing, and fly ash. Applied Radiation and Isotopes, 69, 1422–1435.Google Scholar

  • Semkow, T.M. (1990) Recoil-emanation theory applied to radon release from mineral grains. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 54, 425–440.Google Scholar

  • Semkow, T.M. (1991) Fractal model of radon emanation from solids. Physical Review Letters, 66, 3012–3015.Google Scholar

  • Strong, K.P., and Levins, D.M. (1982) Effect of moisture content on radon emanation from uranium ore and tailings. Health Physics, 42, 27–32.Google Scholar

  • Tanner, A.B. (1964) Radon migration in the ground: a review. In J.A.S. Adams and W.M. Lowder, Eds., The Natural Radiation Environment, p. 161–190. The University of Chicago Press, Illinois.Google Scholar

  • Tanner, A.B. (1980) Radon migration in the ground: a supplementary review. In T.F. Gessel and W.M. Lowder, Eds., Natural Radiation Environment III, Symposium Proceedings, pp. 5–56. CONF-780422, Springfield, Virginia.Google Scholar

  • Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility—Office of Science Education. (2017) The element Terbium, http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele065.html. Accessed March 13, 2017.

  • Turekian, K.K., Nozaki, Y., and Benninger, L.K. (1977) Geochemistry of atmospheric radon and radon products. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 5, 227–255.Google Scholar

  • Wakita, H., Igarisha, G., and Notsu, K. (1991) An anomalous radon decrease in groundwater prior to an M6.0 earthquake—a possible precursor. Geophysical Research Letters, 18, 629–632.Google Scholar

  • Weast, R.C., Ed. (1981) CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 62nd ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar

  • Weber, W.J., Ewing, R.C., and Wang, L.M. (1994) The radiation-induced crystalline-to-amorphous transition in zircon. Journal of Materials Research, 9, 688–698.Google Scholar

  • WHO (World Health Organization) (2009) WHO handbook on indoor radon—a public health perspective. Who Press, Switzerland.Google Scholar

  • Xiao, H.Y., Weber, W.J., Zhang, Y., Zu, X.T., and Li, S. (2015) Electronic excitation induced amorphization in titanate pyrochlores: an ab initio molecular dynamics study. Scientific Reports, 5, 1–8.Google Scholar

  • Yamada, R., Tagami, T., Nishimura, S., and Ito, H. (1995) Annealing kinetics of fission tracks in zircon—an experimental study. Chemical Geology, 122, 249–258.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-11-15

Accepted: 2017-02-26

Published Online: 2017-07-19

Published in Print: 2017-07-26

Citation Information: American Mineralogist, Volume 102, Issue 7, Pages 1375–1383, ISSN (Online) 1945-3027, ISSN (Print) 0003-004X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2017-6017.

Export Citation

© 2017 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in