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Fission tracks are zones of intense damage that result when fission fragments pass through a solid. 238U is the only naturally occurring isotope whose decay rate results in a significant number of tracks over geologic time. Spontaneous fission of 238U occurs at a known rate, and by determining the number of fission tracks and the amount of uranium present in a mineral or glass, its age may be determined. Many geologic materials contain trace amounts of uranium, but because of such factors as uranium abundance and track retention, zircon and glass are the only materials routinely dated in...

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