Report

The Edge of Time: Dating Young Volcanic Ash Layers with the 40Ar-39Ar Laser Probe

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Science  15 Nov 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5290, pp. 1176-1178
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5290.1176

Abstract

Argon-40-argon-39 single-crystal dating of young (5000 to 30,000 years ago) volcanic ash layers erupted from the Mono Craters, California, shows that the method can yield meaningful ages in Holocene tephra. Because of ubiquitous xenocrystic contamination, the data do not form isochrons but plot in wedge-shaped regions on an argon isotopic diagram. The upper boundary of the region is an isochron matching the 14C-derived age of the eruption. Such contamination-related patterns may be common in dating young materials by the single-crystal method. Argon dating by this method can help refine the time scale of physical and biological evolution over the past 100,000 years.