Shocked monazite chronometry: integrating microstructural and in situ isotopic age data for determining precise impact ages

Timmons M. Erickson, Nicholas E. Timms, Christopher L. Kirkland, Eric Tohver, Aaron J. Cavosie, Mark A. Pearce, Steven M. Reddy

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Monazite is a robust geochronometer and occurs in a wide range of rock types. Monazite also records shock deformation from meteorite impact but the effects of impact-related microstructures on the U–Th–Pb systematics remain poorly constrained. We have, therefore, analyzed shock-deformed monazite grains from the central uplift of the Vredefort impact structure, South Africa, and impact melt from the Araguainha impact structure, Brazil, using electron backscatter diffraction, electron microprobe elemental mapping, and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). Crystallographic orientation mapping of monazite grains from both impact structures reveals a similar combination of crystal-plastic deformation features, including shock twins, planar deformation bands and neoblasts. Shock twins were documented in up to four different orientations within individual monazite grains, occurring as compound and/or type one twins in (001), (100), (10 1 ¯) , {110}, { 212 } , and type two (irrational) twin planes with rational shear directions in [ 0 1 ¯ 1 ¯ ] and [ 1 ¯ 1 ¯ 0 ]. SIMS U–Th–Pb analyses of the plastically deformed parent domains reveal discordant age arrays, where discordance scales with increasing plastic strain. The correlation between discordance and strain is likely a result of the formation of fast diffusion pathways during the shock event. Neoblasts in granular monazite domains are strain-free, having grown during the impact events via consumption of strained parent grains. Neoblastic monazite from the Inlandsee leucogranofels at Vredefort records a 207Pb/206Pb age of 2010 ± 15 Ma (2σ, n = 9), consistent with previous impact age estimates of 2020 Ma. Neoblastic monazite from Araguainha impact melt yield a Concordia age of 259 ± 5 Ma (2σ, n = 7), which is consistent with previous impact age estimates of 255 ± 3 Ma. Our results demonstrate that targeting discrete microstructural domains in shocked monazite, as identified through orientation mapping, for in situ U–Th–Pb analysis can date impact-related deformation. Monazite is, therefore, one of the few high-temperature geochronometers that can be used for accurate and precise dating of meteorite impacts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number11
    JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


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