Calibration and comparison of etching techniques for apatite fission-track thermochronology

G. R. Murrell, E. R. Sobel, B. Carrapa, P. Andriessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Understanding time-temperature histories using apatite fission-track thermochronology involves sample preparation, analysis and then thermal modelling using an appropriate annealing algorithm. A subtle point in this sequence is ascertaining that the sample preparation utilized is compatible with the methodology used in obtaining the data for constructing the annealing data set. This issue is important if one wishes to utilize the relatively new multikinetic annealing algorithm of Ketcham et al. that is implemented in their AFTSolve and HeFTy models which is based on a different etching recipe than those previously used. A preliminary calibration step involves comparing published etch pit diameters for a suite of samples with those analysed by an operator. Results show that the operator can reliably reproduce the calibration data set. We then report a laboratory experiment using samples from Finland and Spain that compares the results obtained using two different etching methodologies (7% nitric acid with qualitative etching conditions and 5.5 M nitric acid at constant conditions). The two raw data sets yield variable results. Comparing the two etching methodologies reveals the influence of this procedure on the kinetic parameter D par.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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