(WAAIF)
WESTERN AUSTRALIAN ARGON ISOTOPE FACILITY
WAAIF specializes in applying the 40Ar/39Ar technique to any rocks and minerals that contain K (e.g. hornblende, sanidine, plagioclase and basalts). The 40Ar/39Ar dating method is used to measure the age and timing of a large variety of geological processes, from meteorite samples as old as the Earth (4.5 billion years) to the age of historical events such as the Vesivius eruption (79 AD).


THE FACILITY FOCUSES ON THE APPLICATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE 40ARGON/39ARGON CHRONOMETER TO ESTABLISH TEMPORAL CONSTRAINTS ON A LARGE VARIETY OF GEOLOGICAL PROCESSES INCLUDING THE ERUPTION OF LARGE IGNEOUS PROVINCES, THE FORMATION OF IMPACT CRATERS AND THE THERMAL HISTORY OF METEORITES. THE LAB ALSO ACCOMMODATE AN IMPRESSIVE BREADTH OF GEOSCIENCE-RELATED RESEARCH TOPICS (E.G., ORE DEPOSITS, METAMORPHIC PETROLOGY, PROVENANCE STUDIES).

TECHNIQUES

The facility uses both laser and furnace extracting system for geochronology and thermochronology applications. We can date the following minerals:

Micas – muscovite, biotite, phengite.

Feldspars – K-feldspar and plagioclase.

Amphiboles.

Whole rocks – volcanics, slates, phyllites.

Pyroxenes – e.g., found as inclusions in diamonds.

Feldspathoids – leucite, nepheline.

Clays – illite, celadonite.

Sulphates – alunite, jarosite.

Evaporites – sylvite, carnallite, polyhalite, langbeinite.

Glass – obsidian, tektites, pseudotachylite.

Manganese oxides – cryptomelane, hollandite.

Tourmaline – Shorl, Dravite, Elbaite.

Alkaline minerals – Wadeite, priderite, K-richterite.

MAP MASS SPECTROMETER 1/3

The WAAIF is equipped with A MAP215-50 mass spectrometer with a low-blank automated extraction system coupled with a NewWave Nd-YAG dual IR (1064 nm) and UV (216 nm) laser, an electromuliplier detector and Niers source. The ultra-violet laser is capable of high-resolution (up to 10 µm beam size) ablation of any mineral, allowing detailed analysis of individual mineral grains.

MAP MASS SPECTROMETER 2/3

The infra-red laser (continuous wavelength 60W) is capable of spot analysis (100-300 µm spot size), single grain total fusion, and incremental laser step-heating of K-rich minerals and whole rocks. For larger aliquot of minerals (> 8-10 mg) we use an automated Pond-Engineering low-blank furnace.

MAP MASS SPECTROMETER 3/3

The facility is automated and can be controlled remotely via VNC iphone technology. The extraction line is associated with a Nitrogen cryocooler trap and two AP10 and one GP50 SAES getters that altogether allow purifying the gas released by the sample during laser heating.

ARGUS VI MULTI-COLLECTOR NOBLE GAS MASS SPECTROMETER

APPLICATIONS

The 40Ar/39Ar method is used to date a myriad of geological events such as volcanism, tectonic plate movements, mountain building rates, sediment formation, weathering and erosion, hydrothermal fluid movements, and alteration and diagenesis of minerals.

Timing of Volcanic Eruptions and Magmatic Episodes.

Determining Thermal Histories of Metamorphic Rocks.

Dating Igneous Rock Crystallisation Ages and Thermal Histories.

Dating Paleaomagnetic Sequences.

Determining Ages of Terrestrial Impact Craters.

Dating Meteorite and Lunar Samples.

Dating of Deformation Events.

Dating of Hydrothermal and Alteration Events.

Dating of Sediments; Sedimentary Provenance Studies.

Dating of Authigenic Growth Events.

Dating Hominid Evolution.

Determining Ages and Thermal Events of Sandstone Feldspar Cements.

FEATURED PROJECTS

SEE MORE
Assoc. Prof. Fred Jourdan
WAAIF
Facility Leader
Ph: +61 8 9266 2412
Ms. Celia Mayers
WAAIF
Laboratory Manager
Ph: +61 8 9266 4731
Mr. Adam Frew
WAAIF
Laboratory Technician
Ph: +61 8 9266 4731