- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Noble gases within the crust originate from three main sources: the atmosphere, introduced into the crust dissolved in groundwater; the mantle, in regions of magmatic activity; and those produced in the crust by the result of radioactive decay processes. The continental crust contains approximately 40% of the terrestrial radioelements (Rudnick and Fountain 1995) that produce noble gases and, after the mantle and the atmosphere, forms the third major terrestrial noble gas reservoir (neglecting the core). In addition to these sources, contributions from interplanetary dust particles (IDP), cosmic ray interaction with the crustal surface and anthropogenic noble gases can in some cases be a significant source of noble gases in crustal materials. The use of noble gases to understand the role of fluids in different geological settings relies on their low natural abundance and chemical inertness. The low abundance of noble gases in crustal systems and their distinct isotopic character means that contributions from these different sources can often be resolved and quantified. With this, information is gained about the source of associated fluids, the environment from which they originated the physical manner in which they have been transported to the sampling site and the different phases that may have interacted within the crustal fluid system. This is only possible, however, with a detailed understanding of the processes that control the concentration and isotopic composition of the noble gases in different crustal environments.
The first part of this chapter deals with the three different mechanisms of noble gas production within the crust—radiogenic, nucleogenic, fissiogenic (Fig. 1⇓). We show how production ratios are affected not only by the source region radioelement concentration, but in the case of nucleogenic reactions, also by the spatial distribution and concentration of the target elements. For completeness we consider cosmogenic noble gas production rates and Interplanetary …