Self-induced fracture generation in zircon

J. K.W. Lee, J. Tromp

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Zircon has particular geological significance because of its use in the age determination of rocks and as a structural analogue phase for radioactive waste forms. However, radiation damage of the crystal structure (metamictization) causes a volume expansion of the crystal lattice and the generation of internal stresses which can induce fractures in the crystal. A model has been developed which predicts that spatially distinct radial and/or concentric fracture sets can be produced, and such fracture patterns accurately describe the distribution and types of self-induced fractures observed in natural zircons. In general, the formation of such microfractures in zircon is a function of the degree of metamictization, shell thickness, and the confining pressure. Results suggest that the types of fractures found in a suite of zircons from a particular rock might be potential indicators of the depth of burial. Because metamictization-induced fractures may serve as potential pathways for the rapid leaching of various elements from the zircon crystal, this may also have important implications in interpreting the U/Pb ages of fractured zircons or in evaluating the suitability of related crystalline phases as hosts for nuclear waste. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17,753-17,770
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB9
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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