The new FastTracks digital fission-track analysis training module delivers a traditionally labour-intensive laboratory training routine to the analyst’s computer, making it more practical and efficient. The module is made possible by Fission Track Studio, a cross-platform dual software suite for digital microscopy image acquisition (TrackWorks) and analysis (FastTracks), developed by the Melbourne Thermochronology Research Group.
The training module comprises a series of high-resolution photomicrograph stacks of fission tracks in a range of mica and apatite samples pre-captured in TrackWorks. The training image sets include the two most commonly used apatite reference materials, Fish Canyon Tuff and Durango, as well as a further six apatites with distinct chemical compositions and track length distributions obtained from geological settings with more complex long-term thermal histories. Trainees are able to evaluate their progress by comparing their data with expert-reviewed solution files on a grain-by-grain and track-by-track basis. The entire training module can be completed in ~30 working hours on a personal device.
The image-based AFT training module enables the first-ever visual diagnosis of potential individual analytical biases down to the single grain and length level. This approach provides efficiency and flexibility for intra-lab training routines, thereby offering improved analytical rigour and transparency at a community level.