TERRAPUB Geochemical Journal
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Geochemical Journal, Vol. 44 (No. 3), pp. e5-e9, 2010

EXPRESS LETTER

Helium in old porcelain: The historical variation of the He isotopic composition in air

Jun-Ichi Matsuda,1 Takuya Matsumoto1,2 and Akihisa Suzuki1

1Department of Earth and Space Science, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan
2Institute for Study of the Earth's Interior, Okayama University, 827 Yamada, Misasa, Tottori 682-0193, Japan

(Received March 3, 2010; Accepted April 21, 2010; Online published May 14, 2010)

Abstract: It is still debated whether there is a variation of the atmospheric 3He/4He ratio, due to the anthropogenic release of radiogenic 4He contained in fossil fuels, in modern era. In this study, we measured the He isotopic ratios in old Chinese and Japanese porcelains assuming that the old atmosphere might have been preserved in vesicles. The trapped noble gases are elementally but not isotopically fractionated. The 3He/4He ratios in some old Chinese porcelain are significantly higher than the present air value, indicating that recent human industrial activity might have affected the helium isotopic ratio of the atmosphere. Our result indicates that the rate of change in the atmospheric 3He/4He ratio was -0.034 ± 0.018 %/year (2σ) in the last 200 years. Results show that porcelain can be used as a time capsule of the paleoatmosphere during historical age.
Key words: helium isotopes, atmosphere, porcelain, anthropogenic fluxes, Industrial Revolution


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