Nanoscale occurrence of lead (Pb) in an Archean zircon

Utsunomiya, S., Palenik, C.S., Valley, J.W., Cavosi, A.J., Wilde, S.A. and Ewing, R.C. (2004) Nanoscale occurrence of Pb in an Archean zircon. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta Volume 68, Issue 22, 15 November 2004, Pages 4679–4686..

Published on: 11/15/2004

We report, for the first time, a direct, atomic-scale characterization of Pb in zircon (4.4–3.1 Ga) from the early Archean Yilgarn craton in Australia using high-resolution HAADF-STEM. Two forms of Pb have been identified: Pb concentrated at ∼3 atom% as a nanoscale patch in zircon structure, and Pb concentrated within the amorphous domain created by fission fragment damage. The first result suggests that the Pb atoms directly substitute for Zr4+ in the zircon structure, and the latter observation demonstrates that Pb diffusion can occur through amorphous regions created by radiation damage, although volume diffusion is typically considered to be the dominant mechanism for Pb diffusion. Beyond the first percolation point, i.e., when the amorphous domains overlap and form a fully interconnected network of amorphous domains, there is a new pathway for the diffusion of Pb that is faster than volume diffusion through crystalline zircon.

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