Pb, U, Tl, Hf and Zr distributions in zircons determined by proton microprobe and fission track techniques

Gregory J. Clark*, Brian L. Gulson, John A. Cookson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


A proton microprobe has been used to determine Pb, Tl, Hf and Zr distributions across four single zircon crystals separated from a 'rapakivi' granite. The Pb and Zr data are quantitative: Pb and Tl concentrations were below the measurable limits for determinations in situ by most other techniques. The distribution of U in the same crystals was determined by the fission track technique. Limits on precision of U allow only a qualitative correlation of U and Pb, whereas the Tl and Pb correlation is more exactly determined. Zircons with distinct cores and overgrowths exhibited uniform Zr and Hf concentrations across the crystals, whereas the high U rims and 'inclusions' (domains) also had high Tl and Pb contents. Since almost all the Pb in these zircons is derived by radioactive decay of U, the Tl substitution has paralleled that of U. The results indicate that the high U domains are 'hot spots' rather than a separate mineral phase. The strong positive correlation of U and Pb indicates that there is little U daughter product migration relative to U, within the crystal. However, for the zircon population investigated here, the data are equivocal on the question of whether U addition to zircon crystals is associated with new zircon growth or not. In either case, the heterogeneous U and Pb distributions complicate any interpretations of U-Pb isotopic analysis for such zircon populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-918
Number of pages14
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes


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