Evaluating reference materials and common-Pb corrections for high-resolution apatite U–Pb geochronology

Francisco E. Apen, Sean P. Gaynor, Blair Schoene, John M. Cottle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) and laser ablation split stream inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LASS) U–Pb data for a suite of widely available reference apatites: Fish Canyon Tuff, Mount Dromedary, TEMORA 2, and Duluth Complex anorthosite. We apply different common-Pb correction strategies to the U–Pb data sets: (1) anchoring to a Stacey and Kramers (1975) model Pb composition; (2) unanchored 2-D 238U/206Pb-207Pb/206Pb isochron regressions; and (3) unanchored 3-D 238U/206Pb-207Pb/206Pb-204Pb/206Pb isochron regressions. The different common-Pb corrections yield consistent dates within each ID-TIMS and LASS data set, with 3-D regression method producing the highest precision isochrons. FCT apatite produces an ID-TIMS 3-D isochron age of 28.8 ± 3.7 Ma with (207Pb/206Pb)i = 0.851 ± 0.021. Mount Dromedary apatite yields an ID-TIMS 3-D isochron age of 98.4 ± 0.5 Ma with (207Pb/206Pb)i = 0.839 ± 0.003. TEMORA 2 apatite has an ID-TIMS 3-D isochron age of 402 ± 7 Ma and (207Pb/206Pb)i = 0.839 ± 0.008. Duluth Complex anorthosite apatite yields an ID-TIMS 3-D isochron age of 1077 ± 9 Ma with (207Pb/206Pb)i = 0.849 ± 0.046. The MSWDs associated with isochrons calculated from both the ID-TIMS and LASS data sets are larger than expected for a single age population, revealing complexities that are otherwise not captured by 2-D isochron methods. In the case of FCT apatite, the ID-TIMS data indicate significant heterogeneity in the initial Pb ratio ((207Pb/206Pb)i = 0.845–0.856), invalidating this sample as a viable reference apatite for high-precision geochronology. Additionally, the common-Pb compositions of TEMORA 2 and Duluth Complex anorthosite apatites calculated using the ID-TIMS data deviate from bulk Earth Pb evolution models beyond 2σ uncertainty. The data emphasize the utility of unanchored age regressions in generating the highest fidelity apatite U–Pb dates. Further, TEMORA 2 and Duluth Complex apatite ages are both younger than their corresponding zircon U–Pb ages, highlighting the need to independently verify the ages of prospective reference apatites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122191
JournalChemical Geology
StatePublished - Sep 5 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Apatite
  • Geochronology
  • Thermochronology
  • U-Pb


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