Top: Uranium-235 combines with a neutron to form an unstable intermediate, which quickly splits elipsis
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Method of determining the age of a mineral that utilizes the damage done by the spontaneous fission of uranium-238, the most abundant isotope of uranium. The fission results in radiation damage, or fission tracks, that can be made visible by preferential leaching (removal of material by solution) of the host substance with a suitable chemical reagent; the leaching process allows the etched fission-track pits to be viewed and counted under a microscope. The amount of uranium present can be determined by irradiation that produces thermal fission of uranium-235, which produces another population of tracks, related to the uranium concentration of the mineral. Thus, the ratio of naturally produced, spontaneous fission tracks to induced fission tracks is a measure of the age of the sample. See also dating.
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Fission may refer to: