Clarifying the zircon Hf isotope record of crust-mantle evolution

J.D. Vervoort, Anthony I. S. Kemp

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    201 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2016 Elsevier B.V.
    Zircon has played a critically important role in our understanding of the growth and evolution of the Earth. The U-Pb isotope system as preserved in zircon, more than any other mineral or method, has provided the most precise geochronological constraints for timing of geological events and processes on the Earth. More recently, technological advances have allowed for the precise determination of the Hf isotope composition of zircon, a geochemical tracer that has provided important details on the Earth's chemical evolution, in particular the evolution of the crust-mantle system. When combined, U-Pb ages and Hf isotopes in zircons hold the promise of providing unprecedented resolution in the timing and processes of planetary differentiation. Nowhere is this more true than for the early history of the Earth, where younger tectonothermal processes have compromised the isotope information in bulk rock samples. With the promise of this integrated technique, however, lies numerous potential pitfalls in the acquisition and interpretation of these data. In this paper we review several important issues related to unraveling the complexities of integrated U-Pb age and Hf isotope datasets, especially with respect to understanding crust-mantle evolution. In particular, we address the potential difficulty of assigning accurate initial Hf isotope compositions as well as some of the inherent problems associated with so-called "depleted-mantle model ages". Finally, we make some suggestions regarding the optimum analytical approach and presentation of the Hf (and Nd) isotope data to obtain the clearest record of Earth's chemical evolution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-75
    Number of pages11
    JournalChemical Geology
    Early online date29 Jan 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


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