Similarities between the processes that occur during sputtering of monocrystalline Si by reactive O2+ primary ions and the interface SiO2/monocrystalline Si by noble gas ions (e.g., by Ar+) have motivated us to utilize the semiempirical model of P. C. Zalm and C. J. Vriezema [Nucl. Instrum. Methods B 67, 495 (1992)], modified later by M. Petravić, B. G. Svensson, and J. S. Williams [Appl. Phys. Lett. 62, 278 (1993)] to calculate the decay length λb, as defined by J. B. Clegg [Surf. Interface Anal. 10, 322 (1987)], at the SiO2/Si interface. The measured and calculated results agree remarkably well. Inconsistency observed to be larger than 100% for glancing incidence angles confirms limitations of this model that were admitted already by its authors. © 1995 American Institute of Physics.