Zircon is a unique, although not exactly perfect, chronometer mineral and "time capsule" that preserves information about the earliest history of the Earth. The set of tools for extracting this information includes U-Pb dating, Lu-Hf isotopic tracing, trace element concentrations, oxygen isotope composition, Ti concentrations thermometry, and imaging of the internal grain structure. Veracity of this information, however, deteriorates, if the grain is internally heterogeneous, and various isotopic and chemical analyses sample domains of different age, origin, and degree of alteration.
The goal of this project is developing methodology for extracting comprehensive and accurate information about the origin of the zircon's host rock while circumventing the effects of heterogeneity. The student will use a combination of ion microprobe techniques, imaging, and precise isotopic analysis of U, Pb and other elements separated from zircon grain fragments, to refine the ways of getting a comprehensive genetic information from zircon.
This methodology will be applied to the earliest terrestrial zircons, and, after optimisation, to other important detrital zircon populations throughout the Earth's history.