Geochronological and geochemical effects of zircon chemical abrasion: Insights from single-crystal stepwise dissolution experiments

Alyssa J. McKanna, Blair Schoene, Dawid Szymanowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chemical abrasion in hydrofluoric acid (HF) is routinely applied to zircon grains prior to U-Pb dating by isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) to remove radiation-damaged portions of grains affected by Pb loss. Still, many chemically abraded datasets exhibit evidence of residual Pb loss. Here we test how the temperature and duration of chemical abrasion affect zircon U-Pb and trace element systematics in a series of 4gh, single-crystal stepwise dissolution experiments at 180 and 210ggC. Microtextural data for the zircon samples studied are presented in a companion paper by McKanna et al. (2023). We find that stepwise dissolution at 210ggC is more effective at eliminating material affected by open-system behavior and enriched in U, common Pb (Pbc), and light rare earth elements (LREEs); reduces the presence of leaching-induced artifacts that manifest as reverse discordance; and produces more consistent and concordant results in zircon from the three rocks studied. We estimate that stepwise dissolution in three 4gh steps is roughly equivalent to a single g1/4g8gh leaching step due to the insulating properties of the PTFE sleeve in the Parr pressure dissolution vessel, whereas traditionally labs utilize a single 12gh leaching step. We conclude that a single 8gh leaching step at 210ggC should remove Pb loss effects in the majority of zircon and that this can be used as an effective approach for routine analysis. Further, we calculate time-integrated alpha doses for leachates and residues from measured radionuclide concentrations to investigate (1) the alpha dose of the material dissolved under the two leaching conditions and (2) the apparent minimum alpha dose required for Pb loss susceptibility: ≥g6×1017 αgg-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology


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