An experimental technique has been developed for systematic measurements of fossil tracks along selected planes cut from grains and rocks. With controlled etching, the technique allows successive revelation of tracks in different minerals in the same section, a typical sequence being olivine, anorthite, clinopyroxene. It thus becomes possible to study precisely the cosmic ray track density variations over dimensions much greater than those of individual crystals. The technique also provides accurate information on the relative recording characteristics of different minerals present in a rock and cosmic ray tracks can be studied with a minimum interference of tracks due to spontaneous fission of uranium and transuranic elements.
Continuous chains of sections, each section measuring approximately 1 cm., have been cut along several different planes in fifteen rocks from Mare Tranquillitatis, Oceanus Procellarum and Fra Mauro region. The cosmic ray track measurements from these sections have provided dramatic evidence for a number of processes affecting lunar rocks. The statistical, and non-uniform nature of erosion by micrometeorite bombardment can be seen in sections intersecting exposed surface which show regions of very steep track density gradients interspersed with eroded regions having lower track densities. The thick section technique permits determination of the energy spectrum of VH nuclei from track density gradients that extend over distances limited only by the dimensions of the rock, and, more important, in samples of identical orientation. The latter is particularly important in higher energy regions (deeper within the rock) where variations in crystal orientation cause track density differences of the same order as real changes in the gradient. Also in the near surface regions of rocks where low energy particles produce steep track density gradient, the thick section method has proved indispensable since it permits accurate depth determinations not possible in the spot sampling procedure.
In this paper the technique of studying track profiles in thick sections is described. Although developed primarily for studying lunar samples, the thick section technique is also useful for similar studies in meteorites, particularly for gas-rich meteorites containing irradiated grains. In contrast to single grain studies, thick sections preserve the grain boundaries and permit accurate depth—density measurements. In addition thick section studies have revealed occasional large uniformly irradiated lithic fragments which would not have been possible to discover by spot sampling methods.