Radiogenic Ar retention in residual silica from acid-treated micas

A Derkowski and M Szczerba and J Srodon and M Banas, GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA, 128, 236-248 (2014).

DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2013.12.018

In sedimentary basins, immediate equilibration with surface and pore waters of Ar, released from K-bearing minerals during their diagenesis or weathering, has been a paradigm for geochemistry and geochronology. Consequently, K-Ar and Ar-Ar isotope geochronology techniques applied to sedimentary rocks are based on an assumption that no measurable external radiogenic 40 Ar ("excess argon") has been locked in the rock components during their formation and alteration. Our results indicate that the reaction of micaceous sedimentary and diagenetic clay minerals (illite, glauconite) with acid produces microporous silica that retains a great fraction of the initial argon, releasing potassium to the solution. In all tested cases the evolution of K-Ar isotope ages followed the very same pattern: the apparent K-Ar isotope age increased enormously after acid treatment and dropped significantly after silica removal (with hot Na2CO3), but never decreased lower than the initial K-Ar isotope age of the untreated sample. The amorphous silica content and the apparent K-Ar age increased with the acid reaction time. Using the molecular dynamics simulations, the clay-acid reaction by-product was shown to bend and wrap, producing three-dimensional, protonated and hydrated silica. As a consequence of dramatically different hydration energies of Ar and K, potassium is instantaneously released and hydrated outside the residual structure while Ar atoms remain inside the silica network, adsorbed on the surface. This is, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence that the excess argon can be retained in solid mineral reaction products formed under pressure and temperature close to those of the Earth surface (1 atm, <80 degrees C). (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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