Tanz Zircon Megacrysts: A New Zircon Reference Material for the Microbeam Determination of U-Pb Ages and Zr-O Isotopes

Document Type


Publication Date



We present detailed characterization of Tanz zircon megacrysts for the microbeam determination of U-Pb ages, Zr isotopes, Hf isotopes, O isotopes and trace element mass fractions. This batch of dark brown zircon megacrysts from Tanzania contains 269 ± 103 μg g−1 U (Th/U ∼ 0.154), and its total weight is 9.06 kg. The largest Tanz zircon megacryst in this batch weighs 366 grams. The calculated average accumulated alpha-radiation dosage is 0.54 × 1018 events per g for the Tanz zircon, which correlates with a ‘well crystallized’ structure. Through a large number of laser ablation ICP-MS, laser ablation MC-ICP-MS and SIMS measurements, it is found that Tanz zircon megacrysts are quite uniform in U-Pb ages, O isotopes and Zr isotopes at scales of tens of microns. The Tanz zircon has chemical abrasion isotope dilution TIMS (CA-ID-TIMS) determined mean isotopic ratio values of 0.09180 ± 0.00013 (2SD, n = 47) for 230Th corrected 206Pb/238U, 0.7473 ± 0.0014 (2SD, n = 47) for 207Pb/235U and 0.059069 ± 0.000067 (2SD, n = 47) for 230Th corrected 207Pb/206Pb. The CA-ID-TIMS method yielded a mean 230Th corrected 206Pb/238U age of 566.16 ± 0.77 Ma (2SD, n = 47). The determined mean δ18OVSMOW and δ94/90ZrSRM3169 values of the Tanz zircon megacrysts are 6.52 ± 0.28‰ (2SD, n = 29) and −0.01 ± 0.06‰ (2SD, n = 35) by gas source mass spectrometry and double spike TIMS, respectively. All of these values are in good agreement with the statistical mean values of microbeam measurements and are proposed as the best reference values for Tanz zircon megacrysts. These features make the Tanz zircon megacrysts suitable as primary U-Pb age and Zr-O isotope reference materials for microbeam analysis. However, our LA-MC-ICP-MS data suggest a relatively wide distribution of Hf isotope compositions in the Tanz zircons (0.281821 ± 0.000042, 2SD, n = 321), which makes Tanz zircons not an ideal Hf isotope reference material for microbeam analysis. We propose the Tanz zircon megacrysts as a potential reference material for the primary external calibration or monitoring of analytical validation for microbeam determination of U-Pb ages and Zr-O isotopes.


For a complete list of authors, please see the article.