Potential effects of alpha-recoil on uranium-series dating of calcrete

Chemical Geology



Evaluation of paleosol ages in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, at the time the site of a proposed high-level nuclear waste repository, is important for fault-displacement hazard assessment. Uranium-series isotope data were obtained for surface and subsurface calcrete samples from trenches and boreholes in Midway Valley, Nevada, adjacent to Yucca Mountain. 230Th/U ages of 33 surface samples range from 1.3 to 423 thousand years (ka) and the back-calculated 234U/238U initial activity ratios (AR) are relatively constant with a mean value of 1.54 ± 0.15 (1σ), which is consistent with the closed-system behavior. Subsurface calcrete samples are too old to be dated by the 230Th/U method. U-Pb data for post-pedogenic botryoidal opal from a subsurface calcrete sample show that these subsurface calcrete samples are older than ~ 1.65 million years (Ma), old enough to have attained secular equilibrium had their U-Th systems remained closed. However, subsurface calcrete samples show U-series disequilibrium indicating open-system behavior of 238U daughter isotopes, in contrast with the surface calcrete, where open-system behavior is not evident. Data for 21 subsurface calcrete samples yielded calculable 234U/238U model ages ranging from 130 to 1875 ka (assuming an initial AR of 1.54 ± 0.15, the mean value calculated for the surface calcrete samples). A simple model describing continuous α-recoil loss predicts that the 234U/238U and 230Th/238U ARs reach steady-state values ~ 2 Ma after calcrete formation. Potential effects of open-system behavior on 230Th/U ages and initial 234U/238U ARs for younger surface calcrete were estimated using data for old subsurface calcrete samples with the 234U loss and assuming that the total time of water-rock interaction is the only difference between these soils. The difference between the conventional closed-system and open-system ages may exceed errors of the calculated conventional ages for samples older than ~ 250 ka, but is negligible for younger soils.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Potential effects of alpha-recoil on uranium-series dating of calcrete
Series title Chemical Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2011.01.013
Volume 282
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Chemical Geology
First page 98
Last page 112
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