Increased precision in isotope-dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) U-Pb geochronology has revealed age complexities in zircon populations that require new tools for understanding how the growth of zircon is related to geologic processes. U and Pb are routinely separated from other elements in dated minerals by ion exchange separation prior to TIMS isotope measurement. We develop a method in which trace elements in the exact same volume of zircon are redissolved and analyzed using solution nebulization inductively coupled plasma sector-field mass spectrometry with matrix-matched external liquid calibration. Using <0.5. ml solution, resulting concentrations are between <1. ppt for elements such as Ti, Nb and Ta and tens of ppb for Zr. By analyzing a series of standard solutions, zircons and procedural blanks, we show that accurate measurements are performed on Zr, Hf, Y, Sc, and the HREE while low-concentration elements can be measured accurately to <5. ppt. We performed combined U-Pb ID-TIMS geochronology with trace element analysis (here called U-Pb TIMS-TEA) on zircons from eight volcanic rocks comprising several volcanic systems and one metamorphic sample. Similar to previous in situ trace element analyses, zircon geochemistry is distinct between different samples and records petrogenetic processes such as fractional crystallization, assimilation and/or magma mixing. Unique from in situ analysis, U-Pb TIMS-TEA can trace geochemical evolution in accessory minerals with adequate age precision to resolve magmatic processes in rocks at least 200 million years old. This provides a means to identify auto-, ante- and xenocrystic zircon and lead to more robust age interpretations in ID-TIMS U-Pb geochronology. One suite of Cretaceous andesitic zircons shows correlations in geochemistry and absolute time that record evolution of a magmatic system over ~250 ka prior to eruption. Future work will combine U-Pb TIMS-TEA with solution isotopic analysis of Nd, Sr and Hf and will be applied to a host of datable minerals such as monazite, sphene, apatite, rutile, xenotime, and baddeleyite. These combined tools will provide access to an improved understanding of a wide range of igneous and metamorphic processes as a function of time.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology