Experimental evidence for the preservation of U-Pb isotope ratios in mantle-recycled crustal zircon grains
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Bea, F., Montero, P., & Palma, J. F. M. (2018). Experimental evidence for the preservation of U-Pb isotope ratios in mantle-recycled crustal zircon grains. Scientific reports, 8(1), 12904.
SponsorshipThis paper has been financed by the Spanish Grants CGL2013-40785-P and CGL2017-84469-P.
Zircon of crustal origin found in mantle-derived rocks is of great interest because of the information it may provide about crust recycling and mantle dynamics. Consideration of this requires understanding of how mantle temperatures, notably higher than zircon crystallization temperatures, affected the recycled zircon grains, particularly their isotopic clocks. Since Pb2+ diffuses faster than U4+ and Th+4, it is generally believed that recycled zircon grains lose all radiogenic Pb after a few million years, thus limiting the time range over which they can be detected. Nonetheless, this might not be the case for zircon included in mantle minerals with low Pb2+ diffusivity and partitioning such as olivine and orthopyroxene because these may act as zircon sealants. Annealing experiments with natural zircon embedded in cristobalite (an effective zircon sealant) show that zircon grains do not lose Pb to their surroundings, although they may lose some Pb to molten inclusions. Diffusion tends to homogenize the Pb concentration in each grain changing the U-Pb and Th-Pb isotope ratios proportionally to the initial 206Pb, 207Pb and 208Pb concentration gradients (no gradient-no change) but in most cases the original age is still recognizable. It seems, therefore, that recycled crustal zircon grains can be detected, and even accurately dated, no matter how long they have dwelled in the mantle.