Abstract

In an attempt to establish criteria for obtaining reliable K-Ar dates, conventional K-Ar studies of several Deep Sea Drilling Project sites were undertaken. K-Ar dates of these rocks may be subject to inaccuracies as the result of sea-water alteration. Inaccuracies may also result from the presence of excess radiogenic 40Ar trapped in rapidly cooled rocks at the time of their formation. The results obtained for DSDP Leg 34 basalts indicate that lowering of K-Ar dates, which is related to potassium addition by weathering, is a major cause of uncertainty in obtaining reliable K-Ar dates for deep-sea rocks. It could not be determined if the potassium addition to the basalts occurred at the time of formation, to, or continuously from to to the present. Calculations show that sediment cover is not a significant barrier to the diffusion of potassium into the basalt. 40Ar loss contributes, at least in part, to the lowering of the K-Ar date in rocks that have added potassium. The meaning of the K-Ar results obtained for DSDP Legs 35 and 2 basalts could not be unambiguously established. Because of the problems involved, caution must be used in interpreting the meaning of conventional K-Ar dates for deep-sea rocks.

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