Mineral isochrons and isotopic fingerprinting: Pitfalls and promises

Davidson, Jon; Hora, John M.; Charlier, Bruce and Perlroth, Rebecca (2005). Mineral isochrons and isotopic fingerprinting: Pitfalls and promises. Geology, 33(1) pp. 29–32.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1130/G21063.1


The determination of accurate and precise isochron ages for igneous rocks requires that the initial isotope ratios of the analyzed minerals are identical at the time of eruption or emplacement. Studies of young volcanic rocks at the mineral scale have shown this assumption to be invalid in many instances. Variations in initial isotope ratios can result in erroneous or imprecise ages. Nevertheless, it is possible for initial isotope ratio variation to be obscured in a statistically acceptable isochron. Independent age determinations and critical appraisal of petrography are needed to evaluate isotope data. If initial isotope ratio variability can be demonstrated, however, it can be used to constrain petrogenetic pathways.

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