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Geochronology Advances in geochronological science
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  30 Sep 2020

30 Sep 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal GChron.

U–Pb geochronology of epidote by LA–ICP–MS as a tool for dating hydrothermal-vein formation

Veronica Peverelli1, Tanya Ewing1, Daniela Rubatto1, Martin Wille1, Alfons Berger1, Igor Maria Villa1,2, Pierre Lanari1, Thomas Pettke1, and Marco Herwegh1 Veronica Peverelli et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, 3012, Switzerland
  • 2Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ambiente e della Terra,University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, 20126, Italy

Abstract. Monoclinic epidote is a low-µ (µ = 283U / 204Pb) mineral occurring in a variety of geological environments, participating in many metamorphic reactions and stable throughout a wide range of pressure–temperature conditions. Despite containing fair amounts of U, its use as a U–Pb geochronometer has been hindered by the commonly high contents of initial Pb with isotopic compositions that cannot be assumed a priori. We present U–Pb geochronology of hydrothermal-vein epidote spanning a wide range of Pb (3.9–190 µg g−1), Th (0.009–38 µg g−1) and U (2.6–530 µg g−1) contents and with µ values between 7–510 from the Albula area (eastern Swiss Alps), from the Grimsel area (central Swiss Alps) and from the Heyuan fault (Guangdong province, China). The investigated epidote samples show appreciable fractions of initial Pb that vary to different extents. A protocol has been developed for in situ U–Pb dating of epidote by spot-analysis laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS) with a magmatic allanite as primary reference material. The suitability of the protocol and the reliability of the measured isotopic ratios have been ascertained by independent measurements of 238U / 206Pb and 207Pb / 206Pb ratios respectively by quadrupole and multicollector ICP–MS applied to epidote micro-separates digested and diluted in acids. For age calculation, we used the Tera–Wasserburg (207Pb / 206Pb–238U / 206Pb) diagram, which does not require corrections for initial Pb and provides the initial 207Pb / 206Pb ratio if all intra-sample analyses are co-genetic. Petrographic and microstructural data indicate that the calculated ages date the crystallization of vein epidote from a hydrothermal fluid and that the U–Pb system was not reset to younger ages by later events. Vein epidote from the Albula area formed in the Paleocene (62.7 ± 3.0 Ma) and is related to Alpine greenschist-facies metamorphism. The Miocene (19.1 ± 4.0 Ma and 16.9 ± 3.7 Ma) epidote veins from the Grimsel area formed during the Handegg phase (22–17 Ma) of the Alpine evolution of the Aar Massif. Identical initial 207Pb / 206Pb ratios reveal homogeneity in Pb isotopic compositions of the fluid across ca. 200 m. Vein epidote from the Heyuan fault is Cretaceous in age (108.1 ± 8.4 Ma) and formed during the early movements of the fault. In situ U–Pb analyses of epidote returned reliable ages of otherwise undatable epidote-quartz veins. The Tera–Wasserburg approach has proven pivotal for in situ U–Pb dating of epidote and the decisive aspect for low age uncertainties is the variability in intra-sample initial Pb fractions.

Veronica Peverelli et al.

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Veronica Peverelli et al.

Veronica Peverelli et al.


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