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Using the potassium-argon laser experiment (KArLE) to date ancient, low-K chondritic meteorites

April 10, 2023

Several laboratories have been investigating the feasibility of in situ K-Ar dating for use in future landing planetary missions. One drawback of these laboratory demonstrations is the insufficient analogy of the analyzed analog samples with expected future targets. We present the results obtained using the K-Ar laser experiment (KArLE) on two old and K-poor chondritic samples, Pułtusk and Hvittis, as better lunar analogs. The KArLE instrument uses laser ablation to vaporize rock samples and quantifies K content by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), Ar by quadrupole mass spectrometry (QMS), and ablated mass by laser profilometry. We performed 64 laser ablations on the chondrites to measure spots with a range of K2O and Ar content and used the data to construct isochrons to determine the chondrite formation age. The KArLE isochron ages on Pułtusk and Hvittis are 5059 ± 892 Ma and 4721 ± 793 Ma, respectively, which is within the uncertainty of published reference ages, and interpreted as the age of their formation. The uncertainty (2σ) on the KArLE ages obtained in this study is better than 20% (18% for Pułtusk and 17% for Hvittis). The precision, which compares our obtained ages to the reference ages, is also better than 20% (11% for Pułtusk and 4% for Hvittis). These results are encouraging for understanding the limits of this technique to measure ancient planetary samples and for guiding future improvements to the instrument.

Publication Year 2023
Title Using the potassium-argon laser experiment (KArLE) to date ancient, low-K chondritic meteorites
DOI 10.1111/maps.13960
Authors Fanny Cattani, Barbara A. Cohen, Cameron Mark Mercer, Agnes J. Dahl
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Meteoritics & Planetary Science (MAPS)
Index ID 70242698
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center