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Extinct 244Pu in Ancient Zircons

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Science  01 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5693, pp. 89-91
DOI: 10.1126/science.1101014

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Abstract

We have found evidence, in the form of fissiogenic xenon isotopes, for in situ decay of 244Pu in individual 4.1- to 4.2-billion-year-old zircons from the Jack Hills region of Western Australia. Because of its short half-life, 82 million years, 244Pu was extinct within 600 million years of Earth's formation. Detrital zircons are the only known relics to have survived from this period, and a study of their Pu geochemistry will allow us to date ancient metamorphic events and determine the terrestrial Pu/U ratio for comparison with the solar ratio.

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