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The first step in most geochronological studies is to extract dateable minerals from the host rock, which is time consuming, removes textural context, and increases the chance for sample cross contamination. We here present a new method to rapidly perform in situ analyses by coupling a fast scanning electron microscope (SEM) with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometer (EDS) to a Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (LAICPMS) instrument. Given a polished hand specimen, a petrographic thin section, or a grain mount, Automated Phase Mapping (APM) by SEM/EDS produces chemical and mineralogical maps from which the X-Y coordinates of the datable minerals are extracted. These coordinates are subsequently passed on to the laser ablation system for isotopic analysis. We apply the APM1LAICPMS method to three igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary case studies. In the first case study, a polished slab of granite from Guernsey was scanned for zircon, producing a 60968 Ma weighted mean age. The second case study investigates a paragneiss from an ultra high pressure terrane in the north Qaidam terrane (Qinghai, China). One hundred seven small (25 mm) metamorphic zircons were analyzed by LAICPMS to confirm a 41964 Ma age of peak metamorphism. The third and final case study uses APM1LAICPMS to generate a large provenance data set and trace the provenance of 25 modern sediments from Angola, documenting longshore drift of Orange River sediments over a distance of 1,500 km. These examples demonstrate that APM1LAICPMS is an efficient and cost effective way to improve the quantity and quality of geochronological data.


This article was originally published Open Access in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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