Mechanisms of Argon Retention in Clays Revealed by Laser 40Ar-39Ar Dating

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Science  20 Jan 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5196, pp. 355-359
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5196.355


A method for dating clays is important for studies of weathering, diagenesis, hydrocarbon migration, and the formation of major metalliferous deposits. However, many attempts have produced imprecise or inaccurate results. Data from shales show that, contrary to expectations, the 40Ar-39Ar dating technique can be successfully used to determine the diagenetic age of ancient sediments because 39Ar losses during irradiation are controlled by release from low retentivity sites in illite equivalent to those that have lost radiogenic 40Ar in nature, rather than by direct recoil as is generally assumed.

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