Application of combined U-Th-disequilibrium/U-Pb and (U-Th)/He zircon dating to tephrochronology
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The combination of U-Th disequilibrium/U-Pb and (U-Th)/He dating of zircon (ZDD) has provided a relatively new radiometric approach suitable for dating Quaternary zircon-bearing volcanic and pyroclastic deposits. This approach permits the dating of zircon as young as ca. 2.5 ka and has huge potential for tephrochronology and other fields of Quaternary science. Its applicability range covers the critical time-window in Quaternary geochronology beyond the range of 14C and below the limit of routine Ar/Ar dating (i.e. between ca. 50 ka and 1.5 Ma). The combined U-Th disequilibrium/U-Pb and (U-Th)/He dating approach can also be applied to other actinide-rich minerals such as allanite or monazite. In <1 Ma young volcanic samples, the integration of the low-temperature (U-Th)/He geochronometer with the high-temperature U-Th disequilibrium/U-Pb geochronometers is essential in order to correct for disequilibrium in the U-decay chains which, when ignored, may result in erroneous underestimation of true eruption ages.In this review paper we summarize past developments and the current state of the ZDD method, explain the theoretical principles, and document the necessity of combining (U-Th)/He with U-Th-disequilibrium and/or U-Pb methods when dating young volcanic material. We then describe analytical procedures and highlight the advantages of the ZDD method. Finally, we present some examples that illustrate the efficacy of this method to derive reliable eruption ages for young tephras, and outline future directions in methodological development and application for this geochronological tool.
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