Zircon: its use and Abuse in geochronology by Prof. Simon A Wilde | Summary and Q&A

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April 9, 2020
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Zircon: its use and Abuse in geochronology by Prof. Simon A Wilde

TL;DR

This talk discusses the challenges and insights gained from studying Hadean zircons, focusing on examples from Jack Hills, the best location in the world for collecting Hadean crystals.

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Key Insights

  • 💡 Jack Hills in Australia is one of the best locations in the world for collecting Hadean crystals, which are over 4 billion years old.

Transcript

right okay should we start yes all right okay great thank you well thank you for your patience from hating here sorry about the technology I guess we're a long way apart and we had trouble yesterday at my university just speaking a few kilometres away so let me first introduce myself I'm professor at Curtin University where I'd been for nearly 40 y... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How do zircons from Jack Hills provide insights into Earth's early history?

Zircons from Jack Hills, being over 4 billion years old, are the only known minerals to record Hadean ages. By studying these crystals, scientists can gain insight into Earth's early geological processes and potentially the conditions for the origin of life.

Q: How do scientists determine the age of zircons using geochronological techniques?

Geochronologists use various techniques to determine the age of zircons, including sims (secondary ionization mass spectrometry), thermal ionization mass spectrometry, and laser ablation split stream icp-ms (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry). These methods involve measuring the isotopes of uranium, thorium, and lead within the zircon crystals to calculate their age.

Q: What challenges do geochronologists face when studying zircons?

One challenge is the possibility of lead mobility within zircon crystals, which can affect the accuracy of age determinations. Additionally, interpreting the complex growth and alteration history of zircons can be challenging, as different generations of zircons and metamorphic or igneous processes can affect their isotopic signatures.

Q: What insights have researchers gained from studying Hadean zircons from Jack Hills?

By studying Hadean zircons from Jack Hills, researchers have gained insights into the early geological history of Earth, including the conditions of the Hadean era when there were no rocks and the Earth was mostly molten. The zircons provide evidence of crust formation, mantle evolution, and potential sources of protoliths during this time.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Geochronologist discusses his work on Hadean zircons from Jack Hills, which contain crystals over 4 billion years old.

  • Zircons are a key mineral for geochronology due to their stability and ability to record ancient ages.

  • The talk covers various analytical techniques used to study zircons, including sims, icp-ms, and atom probe.

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