Zircon dating metamorphic rocks

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Zircon is ubiquitous in a wide variety of crustal rocks and sediments.Its tendency to incorporate radioactive elements U and Th as well as low levels of Pb enables determinations of its crystallisation age to be determining using the U-Pb radioactive decay systems.Geochronological techniques measure radioactive isotope systems in specific minerals, dating major tectonic events that affected those minerals and therefore source rocks feeding the sedimentary system.As a result detrital geochronology tends to produce several ‘populations’ of similar-aged minerals and these can be interpreted to provide highly diagnostic provenance information.

This approach identifies characteristic detrital zircon age spectra, compares them with those from other stratigraphic units in the basin and matches them with potential sediment source areas.

Scientists use this method to date rocks that formed from between 1 million to 4.5 billion years ago, and they estimate the Earth is 4.543 billion years old.

The oldest and most reliable method they use is called Uranium-lead (U-Pb) dating.

We also offer bespoke dating of other mineral-isotope systems that may provide solutions to specific problems, including geochronological dating of igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology is a powerful technique used for studies of sand and sandstone provenance.

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