Artificial ion tracks in volcanic dark mica simulating natural radiation damage: A scanning force microscopy study

M. Lang, U. A. Glasmacher, B. Moine, C. Müller, R. Neumann, G. A. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


A new dating technique uses alpha-recoil tracks (ART), formed by the natural α-decay of U, Th and their daughter products, to determine the formation age of Quaternary volcanic rocks (< 106 a). Visualization of etched ART by scanning force microscopy (SFM) enables to access track densities beyond 108 cm-2 and thus extend the new ART-dating technique to an age range < 106 a. In order to simulate natural radiation damage, samples of phlogopite, originating from Quaternary and Tertiary volcanic rocks of the Eifel (Germany) and Kerguelen Islands (Indian Ocean) were irradiated with U, Ni (11.4 MeV/u), Xe, Cr, Ne (1.4 MeV/u) and Bi (200 keV) ions. After irradiation and etching with HF at various etching times, phlogopite surfaces were visualized by SFM. Hexagonal etch pits are typical of U, Xe and Cr ion tracks, but the etch pits of Ni, Ne and Bi ion tracks are triangular. Surfaces irradiated with U, Xe, Cr and Ni ions do not show any significant difference between etch pit density and irradiation fluence, whereas the Ne-irradiated surface show ∼14 times less etch pit density. The etching rate vH (parallel to cleavage) depends on the chemical composition of the phlogopite. The etching rate v′T (along the track) increases with energy loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-351
Number of pages6
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha-recoil track dating
  • Artificial ion tracks
  • Natural radiation damage
  • Scanning force microscopy


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