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Geochemical Journal
Geochemical Journal An open access journal for geochemistry
Published for geochemistry community from Geochemical Society of Japan.

A practical method for calculating the U-Pb age of Quaternary zircon: Correction for common Pb and initial disequilibria

Shuhei Sakata
Geochemical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 3, P. 281-286, 2018


To obtain accurate crystallization ages from Quaternary zircon, it is necessary to consider the contributions of common Pb and initial disequilibria caused by Th/U and Pa/U fractionation in the zircon-melt system. The disequilibrium in the melt also has influence on the resulting age. This study presents a method for calculating corrected U-Pb ages of Quaternary zircon. In the proposed method, initial disequilibria and common Pb are comprehensively accounted for by a single correction based on a modified Tera-Wasserburg concordia diagram (modified 207Pb method). A bisection method is used to quantitatively evaluate the influence of all factors employed in the correction on the resulting U-Pb age and its uncertainties. If the contribution of Pa/U partitioning is ignored (i.e., when using the conventional 207Pb method), the systematic age error for a 100 ka zircon is ~9.4%. Melt disequilibria on 230Th and 231Pa also have significant influence on the calculated age, when it is non-negligible (e.g., basaltic rocks). Consequently, we suggest that the dating of very young zircon (<100 ka) with the 207Pb method requires precise estimation of both Th/U and Pa/U partitioning in the zircon-melt system.


zircon U-Pb dating, common Pb correction, initial disequilibria, Quaternary zircon, melt disequilibria

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