Radioactive Geochronometry

1st Edition

A derivative of the Treatise on Geochemistry


  • Heinrich D Holland
  • Karl Turekian
  • Radioactive Geochronometry

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    The history of Earth in the Solar System has been unraveled using natural radioactivity. The sources of this radioactivity are the original creation of the elements and the subsequent bombardment of objects, including Earth, in the Solar System by cosmic rays. Both radioactive and radiogenic nuclides are harnessed to arrive at ages of various events and processes on Earth.

    This collection of chapters from the Treatise on Geochemistry displays the range of radioactive geochronometric studies that have been addressed by researchers in various fields of Earth science. These range from the age of Earth and the Solar System to the dating of the history of Earth that assists us in defining the major events in Earth history. In addition, the use of radioactive geochronometry in describing rates of Earth surface processes, including the climate history recorded in ocean sediments and the patterns of circulation of the fluid Earth, has extended the range of utility of radioactive isotopes as chronometric and tracer tools.

    Key Features

    • Comprehensive, interdisciplinary and authoritative content selected by leading subject experts
    • Robust illustrations, figures and tables
    • Affordably priced sampling of content from the full Treatise on Geochemistry


    professionals, researchers, and upper level undergraduate and graduate geochemistry students

    Table of Contents

    1. Cosmic-Ray Exposure Ages of Meteorites

    2. Early Solar System Chronology

    3. The Origin and Earliest History of the Earth

    4. Long-Lived Chronometers

    5. The Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry of Impacts

    6. Geochronology and Thermochronology in Orogenic Systems

    7. Ages and Growth of Continental Crust from Radiogenic Isotopes

    8. Radiocarbon

    9. Natural Radionuclides in the Atmosphere

    10. Groundwater Dating and Residence-Time Measurements

    11. Cosmogenic Nuclides in Weathering and Erosion

    12. Geochronometry of Marine Deposits

    13. Chronometry of Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks

    14. The Early History of Life

    15. Heavy Metals in the Environment—Historical Trends

    Appendix 1

    Appendix 2

    Appendix 3

    Appendix 4


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    © 2011
    Academic Press
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    About the authors

    Heinrich D Holland

    Affiliations and Expertise

    University of Pennsylvania, USA

    Karl Turekian

    KARL KAREKIN TUREKIAN (1927–2013) Karl Turekian was a man of remarkable scientific breadth, with innumerable important contributions to marine geochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, cosmochemistry, and global geochemical cycles. He was mentor to a long list of students, postdocs, and faculty (at Yale and elsewhere), a leader in geochemistry, a prolific author and editor, and had a profound influence in shaping his department at Yale University. In 1949 Karl joined a graduate program in the new field of geochemistry at Columbia University under Larry Kulp with students Dick Holland and his fellow Wheaton alums Wally Broecker and Paul Gast. This was a propitious time as Columbia’s Lamont Geological Observatory had only been established a few years beforehand. It was during these years that Karl began to acquire the skills that led to his rapid emergence as a leader in geochemistry. After a brief postdoc at Columbia, Karl accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Geology at Yale University in 1956, where he set out to create a program in geochemistry from scratch. Karl spent the rest of his life on the Yale faculty and was immersed in geochemistry to the end. He was deeply involved in editing this edition of the massive Treatise on Geochemistry, which has grown to 15 volumes, until only a month before his passing away on 15 March 2013. Karl turned to the study of deep-sea cores and especially the analysis of trace elements to study the wide variety of geochemical processes that are recorded there. His work with Hans Wedepohl in writing and tabulating the Handbook of Geochemistry (Turekian, 1969) was a major accomplishment and this work was utilized by many generations of geochemists. Teaming up with his graduate students and in association with Paul Gast, he developed a mass spectrometry lab at Yale and began to thoroughly investigate the Rb–Sr isotopic systematics of deep-sea clays, not only as repositories but also as sites for exchange to occur and s

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Yale University, Connecticut, USA