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Temperature is known to speed up the hydration process.
The use of Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) in the measurement of obsidian hydration dating was introduced by two independent research teams in 2002. It has also been applied in South America, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand and Mediterranean Basin.The hydration rind is then measured under a high-power microscope outfitted with some method for measuring distance, typically in tenths of micrometers.The technician measures the microscopic amount of water absorbed on freshly broken surfaces.In Rhodes, Greece, under the direction and invention of Ioannis Liritzis, the dating approach is based on modeling the S-like hydrogen profile by SIMS, following Fick's diffusion law, and an understanding of the surface saturation layer (see Figure).In fact, the saturation layer on the surface forms up to a certain depth depending on factors that include the kinetics of the diffusion mechanism for the water molecules, the specific chemical structure of obsidian, as well as the external conditions affecting diffusion (temperature, relative humidity, and pressure).In order to use obsidian hydration for absolute dating, the conditions that the sample has been exposed to and its origin must be understood or compared to samples of a known age (e.g.
as a result of radiocarbon dating of associated materials).
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This latest advance, the novel secondary ion mass spectrometry–surface saturation (SIMS-SS), thus, involves modelling the hydrogen concentration profile of the surface versus depth, whereas the age determination is reached via equations describing the diffusion process, while topographical effects have been confirmed and monitored through atomic force microscopy.
Several factors complicate simple correlation of obsidian hydration band thickness with absolute age.
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