A new approach to cosmogenic corrections in 40Ar/39Ar chronometry: Implications for the ages of Martian meteorites

W.S. Cassata, L.E. Borg

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 4 May 2016


“Anomalously old 40Ar/39Ar ages are commonly obtained from Shergottites and are generally attributed to uncertainties regarding the isotopic composition of the trapped component and/or the presence of excess 40Ar. Old ages can also be obtained if inaccurate corrections for cosmogenic 36Ar are applied. Current methods for making the cosmogenic correction require simplifying assumptions regarding the spatial homogeneity of target elements for cosmogenic production and the distribution of cosmogenic nuclides relative to trapped and reactor-derived Ar isotopes. To mitigate uncertainties arising from these assumptions, a new cosmogenic correction approach utilizing the exposure age determined on an un-irradiated aliquot and step-wise production rate estimates that account for spatial variations in Ca and K is described. Data obtained from NWA 4468 and an unofficial pairing of NWA 2975, which yield anomalously old ages when corrected for cosmogenic 36Ar using conventional techniques, are used to illustrate the efficacy of this new approach. For these samples, anomalous age determinations are rectified solely by the improved cosmogenic correction technique described herein. Ages of 188 ± 17 and 184 ± 17 Ma are obtained for NWA 4468 and NWA 2975, respectively, both of which are indistinguishable from ages obtained by other radioisotopic systems. For other Shergottites that have multiple trapped components, have experienced diffusive loss of Ar, or contain excess Ar, more accurate cosmogenic corrections may aid in the interpretation of anomalous ages. The trapped 40Ar/36Ar ratios inferred from inverse isochron diagrams obtained from NWA 4468 and NWA 2975 are significantly lower than the Martian atmospheric value, and may represent upper mantle or crustal components.”