Observation of centimetre-scale argon diffusion in alkali feldspars: implications for 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology
New data from a gem-quality feldspar from Itrongay, Madagascar, record naturally occurring 40Ar/39Ar age profiles which can be numerically modelled by invoking a single diffusion mechanism and show that microtexturally simple crystals are capable of recording complex thermal histories. We present the longest directly measured, naturally produced 40Ar*-closure profiles from a single, homogeneous orthoclase feldspar. These data appear to confirm the assumption that laboratory derived diffusion parameters are valid in nature and over geological timescales. Diffusion domains are defined by crystal faces and ancient cracks, thus in gem-quality feldspars the diffusion domain size equates to the physical grain size. The data also illustrate the potential of large, gem-quality feldspars to record detailed thermal histories over tens of millions of years and such samples should be considered for future studies on the slow cooling of continental crust.