Fission-track dating is based on the analysis of tracks—linear damage trails—produced by the spontaneous fission of 238U in a range of natural accessory minerals and glasses. The retention of tracks is sensitive to elevated temperatures, and the data serve principally as a tool for recording thermal histories of rocks, potentially over the range of ∼20−350 °C, depending on the specific minerals studied. As such, in most cases, fission-track data generally bear little or no direct relationship to the original formation age of the material studied. The age range of fission-track dating is related to the product of age and uranium content, and ages from several tens of years to older than 1 Ga are reported. Fission-track analysis led to the development of powerful modeling techniques. When used with appropriate geological constraints, these modeling techniques allow important geological processes to be addressed in a broad range of upper crustal settings.

Since early attempts to standardize the treatment of fission-track data and system calibration over more than 30 years ago, major advancements were made in the methodology, necessitating the development of new, updated data reporting requirements. Inconsistencies in reporting impede public data transparency, accessibility and reuse, Big Data regional syntheses, and interlaboratory analytical comparisons.

This paper briefly reviews the fundamentals of fission-track dating and applications to provide context for recommended guidelines for reporting and supporting essential meta fission-track data for publication and methodological archiving in structured formats that conform with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data principles. Adopting such practices will ensure that data can be readily accessed, interrogated, and reused, allowing for further integration with other numerical geoscience techniques.

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