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U-Pb LA-(MC)-ICP-MS dating of rutile: new reference materials and applications to sedimentary provenance

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date6/06/2013
JournalChemical Geology
Number of pages20
Original languageEnglish


In response to the general lack of sufficiently abundant and high quality rutile Usingle bondPb reference materials for in situ geochronology, we have characterised two new potential rutile ~ 1.8 Ga reference materials (Sugluk-4 and PCA-S207) from granulite facies belts of the Canadian Shield, namely the northern Cape Smith Belt of Quebec and the Snowbird Tectonic Zone (Sasatchewan). Characterisation includes ID-TIMS and LA-ICP-MS Usingle bondPb dating, imaging, and trace element analysis. We compare these materials with existing rutiles used already (R19 and R10; Luvizotto et al., 2009 and Zack et al., 2011) and show that the measured Usingle bondPb compositions (i.e. including any common Pb) of our rutiles are considerably more homogeneous. This makes possible a Usingle bondPb normalisation procedure (not reliant upon a common Pb correction) that results in a significant decrease in the uncertainty contribution from the common Pb correction and better reproducibility of reference materials and unknowns for provenance analysis and other applications. The reproducibility is 2–4% (2RSD) for 206Pb/238U and 207Pb/206Pb, only slightly greater than long-term data for zircon reference materials. We show in a rutile provenance study from young orogens (Bhutan Himalaya and Canadian Cordillera) that the sensitivity of our analytical set-up allows dating of ~ 90% of rutiles in a sediment using a 50 μm laser ablation spotsize within samples containing rutile as young as 10–20 Ma, and obviates the requirement for U concentration pre-screening, thus reducing or eliminating rutile selection bias. Unsuccessful analyses are due to poor quality rutiles with predominant common Pb, 207Pb signal below detection, or U content below ~ 1–2 ppm. We have used the ‘207Pb-method’ (using the Tera-Wasserburg diagram) to correct for substantial common Pb in very young and/or very low-U rutiles, rather than developing an on-line correction. Since rutile ages reflect mainly the time of cooling, rutile is a sensitive recorder of metamorphic thermochronological information and therefore is an excellent complement to detrital zircon U207Pb data. The contrast between zircon and rutile signatures in Himalayan samples with rutile as young as 10 Ma is shown to be very dramatic (most zircons from the same sample are > 480 Ma, with only a few grains or metamorphic rims reflecting Miocene metamorphism); as such rutile provides complementary information about the thermal events within the source regions of the grains. Rutile Usingle bondPb dating is an underexploited provenance method with wide applicability to sedimentary provenance studies.