A re-examination of petrogenesis and 40Ar/39Ar systematics in the the Chain of Ponds K-feldspar: "diffusion domain" archetype versus polyphase hygrochronology

Chafe, A N; Villa, Igor Maria; Hanchar, J M; Wirth, R (2014). A re-examination of petrogenesis and 40Ar/39Ar systematics in the the Chain of Ponds K-feldspar: "diffusion domain" archetype versus polyphase hygrochronology. Contributions to mineralogy and petrology, 167(5) Springer 10.1007/s00410-014-1010-x

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K-feldspar (Kfs) from the Chain of Ponds Pluton (CPP) is the archetypal reference material, on which thermochronological modeling of Ar diffusion in discrete “domains” was founded. We re-examine the CPP Kfs using cathodoluminescence and back-scattered electron imaging, transmission electron microscopy, and electron probe microanalysis. 40Ar/39Ar stepwise heating experiments on different sieve fractions, and on handpicked and unpicked aliquots, are compared. Our results reproduce the staircase-shaped age spectrum and the Arrhenius trajectory of the literature sample, confirming that samples collected from the same locality have an identical Ar isotope record.
Even the most pristine-looking Kfs from the CPP contains successive generations of secondary, metasomatic/retrograde mineral replacements that post-date magmatic crystallization. These chemically and chronologically distinct phases are responsible for its staircase-shaped age spectra, which are modified by handpicking. While genuine within-grain diffusion gradients are not ruled out by these data, this study demonstrates that the most important control on staircase-shaped age spectra is the simultaneous presence of heterochemical, diachronous post-magmatic mineral growth. At least five distinct mineral species were identified in the Kfs separate, three of which can be traced to external fluids interacting with the CPP in a chemically open system.
Sieve fractions have size-shifted Arrhenius trajectories, negating the existence of the smallest “diffusion domains”. Heterochemical phases also play an important role in producing non-linear trajectories. In vacuo degassing rates recovered from Arrhenius plots are neither related to true Fick’s Law diffusion nor to the staircase shape of the age spectra. The CPP Kfs used to define the "diffusion domain" model demonstrates the predominance of metasomatic alteration by hydrothermal fluids and recrystallization in establishing the natural Ar distribution amongst different coexisting phases that gives rise to the staircase-shaped age spectrum. Microbeam imaging of textures is as essential for 40Ar-39Ar hygrochronology as it is for U-Pb geochronology.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Villa, Igor Maria


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Igor Maria Villa-Toscani

Date Deposited:

02 Oct 2014 11:00

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2022 14:34

Publisher DOI:






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