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(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 an ordinary optical microscope.

Furthermore, despite the widening range of archeological dating techniques - such as radiometric carbon dating, Uranium/Thorium and thermo-luminescence dating - not every work of art can be dated with great accuracy if the geological environment lacks important measurable elements.The fragments emitted by this fission process leave trails of damage (fossil tracks or ion tracks) in the crystal structure of the mineral that contains the uranium.The process of track production is essentially the same by which swift heavy ions produce ion tracks.Chemical etching of polished internal surfaces of these minerals reveals spontaneous fission tracks, and the track density can be determined.Because etched tracks are relatively large (in the range 1 to 15 micrometres), counting can be done by optical microscopy, although other imaging techniques are used.

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