Aragonite (U-Th)/He geochronology: Full retentivity across geologic timescales (104–107 yr)

Maytal Sadeh-Raz, Haviv Itai, Vaks Anton, Mason Andrew, Elisha Bar, Bar Matthews Mira, Ayalon Avner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study we explore aragonite retentivity to helium by comparing (U-Th)/He ages to independent age constraints provided by U/Th and U-Pb dating. We utilize aragonite speleothems from Botovskaya cave in Siberia and Soreq cave in Israel where the current temperature is ∼1 °C and ∼20 °C, respectively and is almost fluctuations-free. We then explore the retentivity of the dated aragonite samples using data from petrographic thin sections and thermal models. The obtained (U-Th)/He ages are statistically identical to independent age constraints extending backwards 6 Ma. This demonstrates that aragonite with relatively common grain size (20–500 μm) is retentive to helium at surface temperatures of 0-20 °C for millions of years. Moreover, its retentivity is higher than expected using currently available helium diffusion kinetics data for aragonite. Our results indicate that aragonite (U-Th)/He geochronology is feasible for aragonite held at near surface temperatures even when the sample grain size is relatively small. Aragonite samples that experienced post-depositional heating may lose helium. (U-Th)/He ages of such samples can be used to constrain paleo surface temperatures and the timing of tectonic and thermal events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121233
JournalChemical Geology
StatePublished - 5 Feb 2023


  • (U-Th)/He
  • Aragonite
  • Carbonates
  • Geochronology
  • Speleothems
  • Thermochronology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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