We present a new methodology for laser-induced steady-state photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy of Dy3+ that aims at a direct quantification of the amorphous fraction fa present in zircon (ZrSiO4), which undergoes a transition from a crystalline to a metamict state due to cumulative self-irradiation damage caused by the radioactive decay of substituted U and Th. Using state-of-the-art confocal spectrometers attached to optical microscopes, measurements may be performed non-destructively on the micrometre length-scale with the option to visualize radiation-damage patterns as revealed by hyperspectral PL maps. Zircon from the Ratnapura district (Sri Lanka, ~520 Ma), was used as reference material to substantiate the applicability of the proposed method. The accumulation of radiation damage in this material was investigated in detail and obtained fa values correlate with calculated α-doses in accordance to the direct impact model reported variously in the literature. The impact of chemically-induced, heterogeneous broadening of Raman and Dy3+ emission spectral bands is discussed on two examples from Mt. Malosa district, Malawi. A mean weighted U-Pb isotope age of 111 ± 1 Ma (pegmatitic-type) and a discordia age of 112 ± 1.6 Ma (hydrothermal-type) as obtained by LA-ICP-MS confirm their close genetic and temporal relationship. Studied zircon examples demonstrate that the amount of radiation damage present may have a substantial effect on the precision of LA-ICP-MS ages, but cannot be considered an exclusive cause for bias of obtained isotope ages.
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- photoluminescence spectroscopy
- confocal hyperspectral mapping
- zircon ZrSiO₄
- radiation damage
- amorphous fraction
- isotope age bias