Abstract

A gamma-ray spectrometer with a solid state detector is described for routine laboratory measurement of U, Th, and K in rocks. The results are used to determine their average rate of heat production. The liquid-nitrogen cooled Ge(Li) detector is used in preference to the conventional NaI detector, even though its counting efficiency is much lower, because its much better resolution permits the isolation of low energy peaks. Using the spectrum obtained over the larger energy range, concentrations can be determined to the same accuracy as with the NaI detector in comparable times. Two analysis techniques were used: the first compares the sample's entire spectrum to those from standards. The alternative technique compares only the sharply resolved peaks measured above the continuum: the counting efficiency is reduced but the sample density can vary as long as a self-absorption correction is made. The results on four United States Geological Survey standard rocks are given.With such a system having a high resolution, the U concentration can be measured using the 63 kev gamma-rays produced in the decay of 234Th to 234Pa, thus indicating whether or not the U series is in equilibrium.

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