Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x5gtn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-18T21:21:18.564Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

High-Precision U-Pb Zircon Geochronology and the Stratigraphic Record: Progress and Promise

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2017

Samuel A. Bowring
Affiliation:
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, sbowring@mit.edu
Blair Schoene
Affiliation:
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, sbowring@mit.edu
James L. Crowley
Affiliation:
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, sbowring@mit.edu
Jahandar Ramezani
Affiliation:
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, sbowring@mit.edu
Get access

Abstract

High-precision geochronological techniques have improved in the past decade to the point where volcanic ash beds interstratified with fossil-bearing rocks can be dated to a precision of 0.1% or better. The integration of high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronology with bio/chemo-stratigraphic data brings about new opportunities and challenges toward constructing a fully calibrated time scale for the geologic record, which is necessary for a thorough understanding of the distribution of time and life in Earth history. Successful implementation of geochronology as an integral tool for the paleontologist relies on a basic knowledge of its technical aspects, as well as an ability to properly evaluate and compare geochronologic results from different methods. This paper summarizes the methodology and new improvements in U-Pb zircon geochronology by isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry, specifically focused on its application to the stratigraphic record.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © by the Paleontological Society 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Amelin, Y., and Zaitsev, A.N., 2002, Precise geochronology of phoscorites and carbonatites; the critical role of U-series disequilibrium in age interpretations: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 66, p. 23992419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barth, S., Oberli, F., and Meier, M., 1989, U-Th-Pb systematics of morphologically characterized zircon and allanite; a high-resolution isotopic study of the Alpine Rensen Pluton (northern Italy): Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 95, p. 235254.Google Scholar
Begemann, F., Ludwig, K.R., Lugmair, G.W., Min, K., Nyquist, L.E., Patchett, P.J., Renne, P.R., Shih, C.Y., Villa, I.M., and Walker, R.J., 2001, Call for an improved set of decay constants for geochronological use: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 65, p. 111121.Google Scholar
Bindeman, I.N., Valley, J.W., Wooden, J.L., and Persing, H.M., 2001, Post-caldera volcanism; in situ measurement of U-Pb age and oxygen isotope ratio in Pleistocene zircons from Yellowstone Caldera: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 189, p. 197206.Google Scholar
Black, L.P., Kamo, S.L., Allen, C.M., Aleinikoff, J.N., Davis, D.W., Korsch, R.J., and Foudoulis, C., 2003, TEMORA 1; a new zircon standard for Phanerozoic U-Pb geochronology: Chemical Geology, v. 200, p. 155170.Google Scholar
Bowring, S.A., and Erwin, D.H., 1998, A new look at evolutionary rates in deep time; uniting paleontology and high-precision geochronology: GSA Today, v. 8, p. 18.Google Scholar
Bowring, S.A., Erwin, D.H., Jin, Y.G., Martin, M.W., Davidek, K., and Wang, W., 1998, U/Pb zircon geochronology and tempo of the end-Permian mass extinction: Science, v. 280, p. 10391045.Google Scholar
Bowring, S.A., Grotzinger, J., Condon, D.J., Ramezani, J., and Newall, M., in press, Geochronologic constraints on the chronostratigraphic framework of the Neoproterozoic Huqf Supergroup, Sultanate of Oman.: American Journal of Science.Google Scholar
Cherniak, D.J., and Watson, E.B., 2001, Pb diffusion in zircon: Chemical Geology, v. 172, p. 524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Compston, W., 2001, Effect of Pb loss on the ages of reference zircons QGNG and SL13, and of volcanic zircons from the Early Devonian Merrions and Turondale formations, New South Wales: Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 48, p. 797803.Google Scholar
Condon, D., Zhu, M., Bowring, S., Wang, W., Yang, A., and Jin, Y., 2005, U-Pb ages from the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, China: Science, v. 308, p. 9598.Google ScholarPubMed
Connelly, J.N., 2001, Degree of preservation of igneous zonation in zircon as a signpost for concordancy in U/Pb geochronology: Chemical Geology, v. 172, p. 2539.Google Scholar
Corfu, F., Hanchar, J.M., Hoskin, P.W.O., and Kinny, P.D., 2003, Atlas of zircon textures, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, p. 469500.Google Scholar
Faure, G., 1977, Principles of isotope geology: New York, John Wiley & Sons, 464 p.Google Scholar
Furin, S., Preto, N., Rigo, M., Roghi, G., Gianolla, P., Crowley, J.L., and Bowring, S.A., in press, A high-precision U-Pb zircon age from the Triassic of Italy: implications for the Triassic time scale and the Carnian origin of calcareous nannoplankton and dinosaurs: Geology (Boulder).Google Scholar
Gehrels, G., Valencia, V., and Pullen, A., 2006, Detrital Zircon Geochronology by Laser-Ablation Multicollector ICPMS at the Arizona LaserChron Center: This volume.Google Scholar
Gerstenberger, H., and Haase, G., 1997, A highly effective emitter substance for mass spectrometric Pb isotope ratio determinations: Chemical Geology, v. 136, p. 309312.Google Scholar
Gradstein, F.M., Ogg, J.G., Smith, A.G., Bleeker, W., and Lourens, L.J., 2004, A new geologic time scale, with special reference to Precambrian and Neogene: Episodes, v. 27, p. 83100.Google Scholar
Haynes, J.T., 1994, The Ordovician Deicke and Millbrig K-bentonite beds of the Cincinnati Arch and the southern Valley and Ridge Province: Special Paper - Geological Society of America, v. 290, 80 p.Google Scholar
Ireland, T.R., and Williams, I.S., 2003, Considerations in zircon geochronology by SIMS, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, p. 215241.Google Scholar
Jaffey, A.H., Flynn, K.F., Glendenin, L.E., Bentley, W.C., and Essling, A.M., 1971, Precision measurement of half-lives and specific activities of 235U and 238U: Phys. Rev., v. C4, p. 18891906.Google Scholar
Kosler, I., and Sylvester, P.J., 2003, Present trends and the future of zircon in geochronology; laser ablation ICPMS, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, p. 243275.Google Scholar
Krogh, T.E., 1982a, Improved accuracy of U-Pb zircon ages by the creation of more concordant systems using an air abrasion technique: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 46, p. 637649.Google Scholar
Krogh, T.E., 1982b, Improved accuracy of U-Pb zircon dating by selection of more concordant fractions using a high gradient magnetic separation technique: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 46, p. 631635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Landing, E., Bowring, S.A., Davidek, K.L., Westrop, S.R., Geyer, G., and Heidmaier, W., 1998, Duration of the Early Cambrian; U-Pb ages of volcanic ashes from Avalon and Gondwana: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 35, p. 329338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, J.K.W., Williams, I.S., and Ellis, D.J., 1997, Pb, U and Th diffusion in natural zircon: Nature (London), v. 390, p. 159162.Google Scholar
Lehrmann, D.J., Ramezani, J., Bowring, S.A., Martin, M.W., Montgomery, P., Enos, P., Payne, J.L., Orchard, M.J., Hongmei, W., and Jiayong, W., in press, Timing of recovery from the end-Permian extinction: Geochronologic and biostratigraphic constraints from south China: Geology (Boulder).Google Scholar
Ludwig, K.R., 1991, ISOPLOT; a plotting and regression program for radiogenic-isotope data; version 2.53, Open-File Report - U. S. Geological Survey, p. 39.Google Scholar
Ludwig, K.R., 2005, Isoplot 3.00; A geochronological toolkit for Microsoft Excel, Berkeley Geochronology Center Special Publication No. 4, p. 75.Google Scholar
Ludwig, K.R., and Mundil, R., 2002, Extracting reliable U-Pb ages and errors from complex populations of zircons from Phanerozoic tuffs: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 66, p. 463.Google Scholar
Mattinson, J.M., 1973, Anomalous isotopic composition of lead in young zircons, Year Book - Carnegie Institution of Washington, p. 613616.Google Scholar
Mattinson, J.M., 1994a, Real and apparent concordance and discordance in the U-Pb systematics of zircons: limitations of “high-precision” U/Pb and Pb/Pb ages: Eos, v. 75, p. 691.Google Scholar
Mattinson, J.M., 1994b, Uranium decay constant uncertainties and their implications for high-resolution U-Pb geochronology: GSA Abst. with Prog., v. 77; A-221.Google Scholar
Mattinson, J.M., 2000, Revising the “gold standard”—the uranium decay constants of Jaffey et al., 1971.: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, Spring Meeting Supplement, Abstract V61A-02, p. S444S445.Google Scholar
Mattinson, J.M., 2005, Zircon U/Pb chemical abrasion (CA-TIMS) method; combined annealing and multi-step partial dissolution analysis for improved precision and accuracy of zircon ages: Chemical Geology, v. 220, p. 4766.Google Scholar
Miller, B.V., 2006, Introduction to radiometric dating: This volume.Google Scholar
Min, K., Mundil, R., Renne, P.R., and Ludwig, K.R., 2000, A test for systematic errors in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology through comparison with U-Pb analysis of a 1.1 Ga rhyolite: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 64, p. 7398.Google Scholar
Min, K., Renne, P.R., and Huff, W.D., 2001, 40Ar/39Ar dating of Ordovician K-bentonites in laurentia and Baltoscandia: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 185, p. 121134.Google Scholar
Mundil, R., Ludwig, K.R., Metcalfe, I., and Renne, P.R., 2004, Age and timing of the Permian mass extinctions; U/Pb dating of closed-system zircons: Science, v. 305, p. 17601763.Google Scholar
Mundil, R., Metcalfe, I., Ludwig, K.R., Renne, P.R., Oberli, F., and Nicoll, R.S., 2001, Timing of the Permian-Triassic biotic crisis; implications from new zircon U/Pb age data (and their limitations): Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 187, p. 131145.Google Scholar
Nomade, S., Renne, P.R., and Merkle, R.K.W., 2004, 40Ar/39Ar age constraints on ore deposition and cooling of the Bushveld Complex, South Africa: Journal of the Geological Society of London, v. 161, p. 411420.Google Scholar
Palfy, J., Parrish, R.R., David, K., and Voros, A., 2003, Mid-Triassic integrated U-Pb geochronology and ammonoid biochronology from the Balaton Highland (Hungary): Journal of the Geological Society of London, v. 160, p. 271284.Google Scholar
Rasbury, E.T., and Cole, J.M., 2006, Directly dating sedimentary rocks: This volume.Google Scholar
Rasmussen, B., 2005, Radiometric dating of sedimentary rocks: the application of diagenetic xenotime geochronology: Earth-Science Reviews, v. 68, p. 197243.Google Scholar
Reid, M.R., and Coath, C.D., 2000, In situ U-Pb ages of zircons from the Bishop Tuff; no evidence for long crystal residence times: Geology (Boulder), v. 28, p. 443446.Google Scholar
Reid, M.R., Coath, C.D., Harrison, T.M., and McKeegan, K.D., 1997, Prolonged residence times for the youngest rhyolites associated with Long Valley Caldera; 230Th- 238U ion microprobe dating of young zircons: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 150, p. 2739.Google Scholar
Renne, P.R., 2000, 40Ar/39Ar age of plagioclase from Acapulco meteorite and the problem of systematic errors in cosmochronology: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 175, p. 1326.Google Scholar
Renne, P.R., 2006, Progress and challenges in K-Ar and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology: This volume.Google Scholar
Renne, P.R., Swisher, C.C., Deino, A.L., Karner, D.B., Owens, T.L., and Depaolo, D.J., 1998, Intercalibration of standards, absolute ages and uncertainties in 40Ar/39Ar dating: Chemical Geology, v. 145, p. 117152.Google Scholar
Sadler, P.M., 2004, Quantitative biostratigraphy; achieving finer resolution in global correlation: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, v. 32, p. 187213.Google Scholar
Sadler, P.M., 2006, Composite time lines: a means to leverage resolving power from radioisotopic dates and biostratigraphy: This volume.Google Scholar
Schärer, U., 1984, The effect of initial 230Th disequilibrium on young U-Pb ages; the Makalu case, Himalaya: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 67, p. 191204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmitz, M.D., and Bowring, S.A., 2001, U-Pb zircon and titanite systematics of the Fish Canyon Tuff; an assessment of high-precision U-Pb geochronology and its application to young volcanic rocks: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 65, p. 25712587.Google Scholar
Schoene, B., and Bowring, S.A., 2006, U–Pb systematics of the McClure Mountain syenite: thermochronological constraints on the age of the 40Ar/39Ar standard MMhb: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, v. 151, p. 615630.Google Scholar
Schoene, B., Crowley, J.L., Condon, D.J., Schmitz, M.D., and Bowring, S.A., 2006, Reassessing the uranium decay constants for geochronology using ID-TIMS U–Pb data: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 70, p. 426445.Google Scholar
Steiger, R.H., and Jäger, E., 1977, Subcommission on geochronology; convention on the use of decay constants in geo- and cosmochronology: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 36, p. 359362.Google Scholar
Tucker, R.D., Bradley, D.C., Ver Straeten, C.A., Harris, A.G., Ebert, J.R., and McCutcheon, S.R., 1998, New U-Pb zircon ages and the duration and division of Devonian time: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 158, p. 175186.Google Scholar
Tucker, R.D., Krogh, T.E., Ross, R.J. Jr., and Williams, S.H., 1990, Time-scale calibration by high-precision U-Pb zircon dating of interstratified volcanic ashes in the Ordovician and Lower Silurian stratotypes of Britain: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 100, p. 5158.Google Scholar
Tucker, R.D., McKerrow, W.S., Brandon, A.D., and Goles, G.G., 1995, Early Paleozoic chronology; a review in light of new U-Pb zircon ages from Newfoundland and Britain: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences = Journal Canadien des Sciences de la Terre, v. 32, p. 368379.Google Scholar
Vazquez, J.A., and Reid, M.R., 2002, Time scales of magma storage and differentiation of voluminous high-silica rhyolites at Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, v. 144, p. 274285.Google Scholar
Villeneuve, M., Sandeman, H.A., and Davis, W.J., 2000, A method for intercalibration of U-Th-Pb and 40Ar-39Ar ages in the Phanerozoic: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 64, p. 40174030.Google Scholar
Wiedenbeck, M., Alle, P., Corfu, F., Griffin, W.L., Meier, M., Oberli, F., Von Quadt, A., Roddick, J.C., and Spiegel, W., 1995, Three natural zircon standards for U-Th-Pb, Lu-Hf, trace element and REE analyses: Geostandards Newsletter, v. 19, p. 123.Google Scholar
York, D., 1967, The best isochron: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 2, p. 479482.Google Scholar
York, D., 1969, Least squares fitting of a straight line with correlated errors: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 5, p. 320324.Google Scholar
Zhang, S., Jiang, G., Zhang, J., Song, B., Kennedy, M.J., and Christie-Blick, N., 2005, U-Pb sensitive high-resolution on microprobe ages from the Doushantuo Formation in south China; constraints on late Neoproterozoic glaciations: Geology (Boulder), v. 33, p. 473476.Google Scholar