Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 49, Issue 15, pp 1554–1569 | Cite as

Genesis of zircon and its constraints on interpretation of U-Pb age

  • Yuanbao WuEmail author
  • Yongfei Zheng


Zircon U-Pb dating is the most commonly used method for isotopic geochronology. However, it has been a difficult issue when relating zircon U-Pb ages to metamorphic conditions in complex metamorphic rocks. Much progress has been made in the past decade with respect to the genesis of zircon and its constraints on interpretation of U-Pb age. Three methods have been proposed to link zircon U-Pb age to metamorphic conditions: (i) internal structure; (ii) trace element feature; (iii) mineral inclusion composition. Magmatic zircon shows typical oscillatory zoning and/or sector zoning, whereas metamorphic zircon has internal structures such as no zoned, weakly zoned, cloudy zoned, sector zoned, planar zoned, and patched zoned ones. Zircons formed in different geological environments generally have characteristic internal structures. Magmatic zircons from different rock types have variable trace element abundances, with a general trend of increasing trace element abundances in zircons from ultramafic through mafic to granitic rocks. Zircons formed under different metamorphic conditions have different trace element characteristics that can be used to relate their formation to metamorphic conditions. It is an effective way to relate zircon growth to certain P-T conditions by studying the trace element partitioning between coexisting metamorphic zircon and garnet in high-grade metamorphic rocks containing both zircon and garnet. Primary mineral inclusions in zircon can also provide unambiguous constraints on its formation conditions. Therefore, interpretation of zircon U-Pb ages can be constrained by its internal structure, trace element composition, mineral inclusion and so on.


zircon internal structure trace element mineral inclusion U-Pb age 


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© Science in China Press 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina

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