Precise U-Pb and Th-Pb age determination of kimberlitic perovskites by secondary ion mass spectrometry

Qiu Li Li*, Xian Hua Li, Yu Liu, Fu Yuan Wu, Jin Hui Yang, R. H. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Perovskite, a common Th- and U-enriched accessory mineral crystallised from kimberlitic magmas, has long been thought to be an important geochronometer for dating the emplacement of kimberlite. However, it also contains variably high levels of common Pb, which makes it difficult to obtain a precise measurement of radiogenic Pb/U and Pb/Th isotopic compositions using microbeam techniques such as SIMS and LA-ICP-MS. We present calibration protocols for in situ U-Pb and Th-Pb age determination of kimberlitic perovskite using the large double-focusing Cameca IMS 1280. Linear relationships are found between ln(206Pb*+/U+) and ln(UO2+/U+), and between ln(208Pb*+/Th+) and ln(ThO+/Th+), based on which the inter-element fractionation in unknown samples during SIMS analyses can be precisely calibrated against a perovskite standard. The well-characterized Ice River perovskite is chosen as the U-Pb and Th-Pb age standard in this study. The 204Pb-correction method was used to estimate the fraction of common Pb, which is consistent with the results obtained using the 207Pb-based correction method for the dated perovskites of Phanerozoic age. A Tazheran perovskite with unusually high U but rather low Th yielded a Concordia U-Pb age of 462.8 ± 2.5 Ma and a Th-Pb age of 462 ± 4 Ma. Two perovskite samples from the Iron Mountain kimberlite have identical Concordia U-Pb ages of 410.8 ± 3.4 Ma and 411.0 ± 2.6 Ma, which are consistent within errors with their corresponding Th-Pb ages of 409.2 ± 7.2 Ma and 412.3 ± 3.3 Ma, respectively. Two perovskite samples from the Wesselton Mine of South Africa yielded indistinguishable 206Pb/238U ages of 91.5 ± 2.2 Ma and 90.3 ± 2.9 Ma, and Th-Pb ages of 90.5 ± 0.8 Ma and 88.4 ± 1.6 Ma, respectively. Accuracy and precision of 1-2% (95% confidence level) for these measurements have been demonstrated by the consistency of their U-Pb and Th-Pb ages with the recommended U-Pb ages of previous works.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-405
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Kimberlite
  • Perovskite
  • SIMS
  • Th-Pb
  • U-Pb


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