A rare gemstone form of "ekanite" from Okkampitiya, eastern Sri Lanka, has a chemical composition of Ca2Th0.9U0.1Si8O20, corresponding to that of the tetragonal mineral ekanite. The Okkampitiya material, however, has undergone amorphization and is found in a fully metamict state, which is ascribed to the long-term accumulation of high levels of self-irradiation damage (1.38 × 1020 alpha decay events per gram). The "ekanite" nevertheless does not show any post-growth chemical alteration, and the radiogenic Pb has been retained. The Okkampitiya "ekanite" yielded a Neoproterozoic 207Pb/206Pb age of 562.1 ± 0.8 Ma (uncertainty quoted at the 95% confidence level) that is concordant within the uncertainties of decay constants. The remarkable Pb-retention performance of "ekanite" contradicts the common hypothesis that metamictization in minerals results in U-Pb discordance. The exceptional chemical durability of the heavily radiation-damaged geological material described here has also implications for materials-science research. High radiation resistance, a key criterion in the search for advanced nuclear waste forms, may not be a prerequisite for high aqueous durability of a solid.
Neoproterozoic amorphous "ekanite" (Ca2Th0.9U0.1Si8O20) from Okkampitiya, Sri Lanka: A metamict gemstone with excellent lead-retention performance
Lutz Nasdala, Fernando Corfu, Doris Blaimauer, Chutimun Chanmuang, Katja Ruschel, Radek Škoda, Manfred Wildner, Richard Wirth, Manuela Zeug, E. Gamini Zoysa; Neoproterozoic amorphous "ekanite" (Ca2Th0.9U0.1Si8O20) from Okkampitiya, Sri Lanka: A metamict gemstone with excellent lead-retention performance. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G39334.1
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