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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19218

Title: The Decay Constant of 87Rb and A Combined U-Pb, Rb-Sr Chronology of Ordinary Chondrites
Authors: Rotenberg, Ethan David
Advisor: Davis, Donald W.
Department: Geology
Keywords: Rubidium
Decay constant
Ordinary Chondrites
Issue Date: 2-Mar-2010
Abstract: The 87Rb-86Sr system is a widely used long-lived isotope geochronometer. 87Rb, the naturally occurring radioactive isotope of Rb, undergoes beta-decay to stable 87Sr with a half-life of approximately 50 Ga. Decay of 87Rb to 87Sr results in variable 87Sr/86Sr in minerals with different Rb/Sr, and measurement of 87Rb/86Sr and 87Sr/86Sr allows for the determination of the age of the rock. Accurate ages depend both on the quality of the isotopic analysis and on the accuracy of the 87Rb decay constant, lambda87. Although the currently accepted value for lambda87 of 1.42 × 10-11a-1 has been in use for over 30 years, there is growing evidence that it is not accurate. Recent attempts to refine lambda87 and its precision have not reached a consensus. This thesis describes a new experiment to measure lambda87 by 87Sr accumulation over a period of about 30 years, and the preparation of a 84-86Sr double-spike in conjunction with that experiment. Radiogenic 87Sr produced in aliquots of a RbClO4 salt was measured by isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry. An average of 31 measurements yields a value of 1.398 ± 0.003 × 10-11a-1 . This requires a substantial revision from the previously accepted decay constant and makes Rb-Sr ages calculated with it 1.5% older. A Rb-Sr and U-Pb isotopic chronometry study was carried out on thirteen ordinary chondrites – the most common type of meteorite, the origin and history of which are still unclear. Some meteorites appear disturbed, possibly by recent shock during breakup of the parent body, whereas others yielded accurate and precise U-Pb and Pb-Pb ages. For example, L5 Elenovka yielded distinct ages for silicates (4555 Ma) and phosphates (4535 Ma), allowing the cooling rate of this meteorite from approximately 1055 K to 759 K to be constrained to 15 ± 3 K/Ma. Rb-Sr yielded less precise ages than U-Pb, but using the new decay constant allows accurate comparison between the two methods. This study creates a firm foundation for future studies in thermal history of chondrites and terrestrial metamorphic complexes using Rb-Sr together with other isotopic chronometers.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19218
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Geology - Doctoral theses

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