Everything you wanted to know about Geochronology but were afraid to ask...

A three-day short course covering topics relating to U-daughter (U-Pb and U-Th) geochronology. This course comprises a combination of lecture and discussion exercise, and will cover a range of topics, from fundamental concepts, analytical methods, uncertainty/data interpretation to the application of geochronology to a range of Earth science topic.  This course is aimed at early stage researchers who are currently engaged in using geochronology as part of their research, and will be delivered through a combination of lectures, exercise and discussions, so come prepared to join in!

This course was held over three days in January 2015 at the British Geological Survey, Keyworth. 

Day 1.  The basics/fundamentals

  • Why geochronology? 
  • Radiometric decay
  • How do we date rocks?
  • P/D and decay constants
  • Isotope dilution
  • What makes a good geochronometer?
  • Complications and limitations to U-Pb dating

Rocks to Ratios (to be discussed during lab tour) (Boise website)

  • Sampling strategies
  • Separation
  • Picking
  • Mounting/Chemical Abrasion
  • Imaging - EBSD, CL, CCI, BSEI, EPMA
  • Chemistry (how clean do we need to be? sample/blank ratios and absolute amounts of material)
  • Measurement - basics of mass spectrometry

Lab tour

  • Sample prep, Clean lab and Mass spec

Day 2: Issues around interpretation

Ratios to Dates

Isotope Dilution - Ratios to Dates

Laser - Ratios to dates

Dates to Ages

  • Data reporting - methods, data table ‘analysis’. Annotated data table - explanations of what headings/data mean and what to look out for.
  • Comparing multiple isotopic systems
  • Interpretation of Wetherill & Tera-Wasserburg plots
  • youngest dates or youngest zircon?
  • detrital applications

Day 3: Application of the knowledge

  • Geochron Clinic
  • Common problems
  • Future directions
  • Wrap up


Suggested Reading: