Abstract:

Combined with geological information, apatite fission track (AFT) data can impose valid thermal and temporal constraints. However, their uncritical interpretation may also lead to unsupported conclusions. Because fission tracks in apatite undergo measurable shortening even at surface temperatures, model artefacts can potentially be mistaken for geological cooling events. This problem can be especially acute when older fanning kinetic models are utilized instead of the newest curvilinear ones. In any circumstances, AFT model results must be interpreted with considerable caution and should rarely be considered to supersede conventional geological wisdom. The possibility that young cooling events are simply artefacts ought always to be entertained. As an example, this study considers AFT data and model results that have been cited to suggest that today's high mountains of West Greenland are erosional remnants of a landmass uplifted during the Neogene. However, in the best of circumstances the AFT data in question are heavily contaminated, and in the worst case they carry virtually no geological meaning. Although geological constraints require the faulted, westward-facing escarpment of West Greenland's Disko region to have been erected after commencement of sea-floor spreading in Baffin Bay, the AFT model-based hypothesis that it was constructed in purely Neogene time remains an unproven speculation.

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