Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology applied to tectonics

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

606 Scopus citations


Detrital zircon geochronology is rapidly developing into an essential tool in Earth science research because of the widespread occurrence of zircon in sedimentary systems; the wide range of information that can be extracted from zircon crystals; the ability to determine ages with reasonable precision, accuracy, and efficiency; and the wide range of new ideas about how to use detrital zircon geochronologic information. The U-Pb system is particularly powerful because three chronometers are available (238U→ 206Pb, 235U→207Pb, and 232Th→208Pb), but challenges arise because of complexities from inheritance and Pb loss. Ages can be used to constrain the age of deposition of the host sediment, reconstruct provenance, characterize a sedimentary unit, and characterize many different aspects of source regions. Detrital zircon geochronology has an exciting future given the growth history recorded in individual crystals; the variety of detrital minerals that can provide complementary information; and the large number of geochemical, isotopic, and chronologic systems that can be applied to these minerals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-149
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Detrital zircons
  • Maximum depositional age
  • Provenance
  • Tectonics
  • U-Pb geochronology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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