This page summaries some of the recent research activities within the Argon and Noble gas research group. Our research involve collaborations with researchers in other labs at the OU and in institutions around the UK and globally.
More information on researchers in the group can be found via the Team page and recent publications are highlighted on the Publications page and link to ORO – Open University Research Online (the Open University’s repository of research publications and outputs that can be freely searched and browsed by all)
We have studied and produced Ar/Ar ages from a wide range of settings across the world, covering much of the range of ages possible with the Ar/Ar method. This ranges from very young basaltic volcanics from Iceland (ca. 55Ka, Moles et al 2019) and silicic deposits from Tenerife (ca. 600Ka, Simone PhD research, Clay et al 2011); to samples from large igneous provinces including basalts and ashes from the Columbia River Province, USA, (Simone Colgiati PhD research); the North Atlantic Igneous Province (55-61Ma; Nelson et al 2015; Halton PhD thesis 2011) and the Cambrian Kalkarindji in Australia (Marshall et al 2018+ PhD thesis) and finally extra-terrestrial samples (lunar samples and meterorites)
Recent research has looked at both the metamorphic history of the Himalayas (Mottram et al 2015; Warren et al 2014) and the Western Gneiss Region of Norway (McDonald et al 2016 & 2018). With other studies having looked at samples from the Alps, Turkey, Southern America and from various parts of the UK.
Studies have involved single fusion analysis of different minerals (typically biotite and muscovite) and linking these to the metamorphic stage at which these minerals formed or insitu analysis of argon distribution to look at changes in argon distribution with the processes such as fluid movement, shearing, deformation and recrystallization.
Experiments using mico-encapsulation of illite are providing exciting new insights into the timing of fault movement
Our research has highlighted the importance of detailed insitu studies and linking the argon ages with data from other geochronological techniques on other mineral phases; with geochemistry and the PTt modelling to give a complete picture of not only the evolution of an area or outcrop but of an individual hand-specimen or mineral within a section.
Our noble gas mass spectrometers can measure not only isotopes of Argon for 40Ar/39Ar dating but the full range of noble gases from Helium to Xenon. This allows research on both natural and experimental material into diffusion rates and analogue studies.
Ongoing research also includes looking at noble gas behaviour in volcanic systems and linking this with the effects on the argon system, affecting the interpretation of argon ages in young volcanic systems such as Tenerife.