25 Jan 2024
 | 25 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GChron.

The daughter-parent plot: a tool for analyzing thermochronological data

Birk Härtel and Eva Enkelmann

Abstract. Plots of daughter against parent concentration (D-P plots) are widely used as isotope ratio plots in geochronology. Their main purposes are: (1) to visualize the main ingredient of the radiometric age equation – the daughter-parent ratio – and (2) to inspect the daughter-parent relationship for anomalous behavior indicating influences of geological processes or analytical bias. Despite their benefits, D-P plots are currently not used for analyzing low-temperature thermochronology data. This contribution aims at putting D-P plots on the map as a data analysis tool. We present a simple, decision-tree-based classification for daughter-parent relationships that places a dataset into one of seven classes: linear relationship with zero intercept, cluster, linear relationship with systematic offset, non-linear relationship, several age populations, scattered data, and inverse relationship. Assigning a class to a dataset enables to choose further data analysis steps and the right algorithm to calculate a sample age, e.g. as pooled, central or isochron age, or a range of ages. We discuss how to deal with small sample sizes and the possibility of comparing data across samples and chronometers. Our simple classification scheme uses the information in the D-P plot for facilitating thermochronological data analysis and making it more consistent and traceable.

Birk Härtel and Eva Enkelmann

Status: open (until 07 Mar 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gchron-2024-1', Stephen Cox, 22 Feb 2024 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on gchron-2024-1', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Feb 2024 reply
Birk Härtel and Eva Enkelmann
Birk Härtel and Eva Enkelmann


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Short summary
We present a new data analysis workflow for thermochronological data based on plots of radiogenic daughter vs. radioactive parent concentration. The daughter-parent relationship helps to identify the sources of age variation. Our workflow classifies the daughter-parent relationship and provides further suggestions, e.g., if a dataset can be described by a sample age and which type of sample age to report.