Arizona radiogenic helium dating laboratory
An additional complication to (U-Th)/He ages arises from the fact that He nuclei travel, on average, ~15-20 micrometers away from parent nuclides upon production.
Because this distance is similar (within factor of ~10) as the size of typically dated crystals, an upward correction to the measured He (or downward correction to measured U, Th, and Sm) is required to account for He ejected from them (Farley et al., 1996; Hourigan et al., 2005).
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Just to show you what I've been up to lately, here is a shot of some of my favorite secondary minerals from my favorite place in the world.
Using (U-Th)/He thermochronology in this way we work with a wide range of geomorphologists and tectonicists to address problems related to uplift, erosion, faulting, and other orogenic issues.
This alpha-ejection correction ranges from about 20-40% of the measured age for zircon or apatite crystals with typical sizes.
Uncertainty associated with the correction depends on uncertainties in measurements of crystal dimensions, the correspondence of analyzed and original crystal morphologies, and the distribution of parent nuclides both within the crystal and within the ~20- m external environment during He accumulation in the rock.
This got a nice News & Views, and some good publicity, for example here, here, and here.
This is also closely related to UA alum Clare Tochilin's cool paper on Antarctic erosion, here.