Electron spin resonance (ESR) analyses have been made of natural quartz samples ranging in age from 100 ka to 1.4 Ga. Signal intensities of two ESR centers that can be associated with Schottky-Frenkel (SF) defects are significantly correlated with age. These defects are thought to accumulate naturally as a result of elastic collisions in the quartz lattice initiated by the recoil of alpha-emitting nuclides present as impurities. Preliminary indications are that recoil-induced SF defects can be significantly more abundant than original SF defects in samples older than several million years. These considerations provide the theoretical basis for a long-ranging quartz geochronometer.

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