Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb carbonate geochronology: Strategies, progress, and limitations

Nick M.W. Roberts, Kerstin Drost, Matthew S.A. Horstwood, Daniel J. Condon, David Chew, Henrik Drake, Antoni E. Milodowski, Noah M. McLean, Andrew J. Smye, Richard J. Walker, Richard Haslam, Keith Hodson, Jonathan Imber, Nicolas Beaudoin, Jack K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations

Abstract

Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb geochronology of carbonate minerals, calcite in particular, is rapidly gaining popularity as an absolute dating method. The high spatial resolution of LA-ICP-MS U-Pb carbonate geochronology has benefits over traditional isotope dilution methods, particularly for diagenetic and hydrothermal calcite, because uranium and lead are heterogeneously distributed on the sub-millimetre scale. At the same time, this can provide limitations to the method, as locating zones of radiogenic lead can be time-consuming and "hit or miss". Here, we present strategies for dating carbonates with in situ techniques, through imaging and petrographic techniques to data interpretation; our examples are drawn from the dating of fracture-filling calcite, but our discussion is relevant to all carbonate applications. We review several limitations to the method, including open-system behaviour, variable initial-lead compositions, and U-daughter disequilibrium. We also discuss two approaches to data collection: traditional spot analyses guided by petrographic and elemental imaging and image-based dating that utilises LA-ICP-MS elemental and isotopic map data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-61
Number of pages29
JournalGeochronology
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 24 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology

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