Zircon fission track dating humphreys

Fission tracks, as physical structures, are simply linear tracks in rock crystals usually about 10-6 meters long.

Fission tracks are most often caused by the spontaneous fission of the parent Uranium-238 atom into two daughter atoms of palladium-119.

While in Melbourne, minerals were separated from the rock sample because only the hard minerals such as apatite, zircon, sphene, and natural glasses (including obsidian and pitchstone) can be accurately dating using fission tracks.

The zircon grains were chosen for testing and, after a number of grinding and chemical treatment steps in order to prepare the sample, a thin grain (0.25 micro-meters wide) was then put into intimate contact with a mica resin and put into a reactor which irradiated the sample with neutrons in order to induce fission of the remaining Uranium-238 molecules (Geochronology Group 2005).

Sandstones from the lowermost parts of the Demerdzhi Formation on Mount Yuzhnaya Demerdzhi comprise the Middle Jurassic young zircon population (169.9 ± 8.6 Ma).


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