Olivines: Revelation of Tracks of Charged Particles

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Science  15 Oct 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4006, pp. 287-291
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4006.287


A one-step, three-component aqueous etchant was developed for revealing the tracks of charged particles in olivine. The etchant reveals tracks of small cone angle, which are equally well developed in all the crystallographic directions. The scope of fossil cosmic-ray track studies in extraterrestrial samples has thus been increased, because olivine is often an abundant constituent and because it has a higher threshold ionization for track registration and has lower uranium, thorium, and trace element concentrations as compared with pyroxenes and feldspars. The etchant does not attack any of the principal rock-forming minerals in normal etching time, which allows a nondestructive study of fossil tracks in thin-section mounts. The study of fossil cosmic-ray tracks in olivine is particularly valuable for investigations of very, very heavy cosmic-ray nuclei and for highly irradiated samples such as those found in the lunar regolith