Energetics of radiation damage in natural zircon (ZrSiO4)

Susan Ellsworth, Alexandra Navrotsky, Rodney C. Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Transposed temperature drop calorimetry at 1000 °C was performed on natural zircons (ZrSiO4) from Sri Lanka that were partially to completely metamict due to α-decay event damage (0.06 to 11.7×1015α-decay events/mg). The enthalpy of annealing at room temperature (ΔHanneal) varies sigmoidally as a function of radiation dose. ΔHanneal reaches a saturation plateau at radiation doses greater than 5×1015α-decay events/mg. The annealing of several samples to a crystalline structure with broadened diffraction peaks does not significantly affect the enthalpy of annealing. The large magnitude of the enthalpy of annealing plateau, −59±3 kJ/mol, suggests that the damage to the structure is pervasive on the scale of Angstroms, consistent with the loss of mid-range order characteristic of a glass. The energetics are consistent with, but do not require, chemical heterogeneity caused by micro-domains of amorphous SiO2-rich and ZrO2-rich regions in the metamict state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-149
Number of pages10
JournalPhysics and Chemistry of Minerals
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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