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Zircon dating by quadrupole LA-ICP-MS has become a common and widespread practice, and large numbers of analyses have been produced in recent years due to the short time required for each analysis and the growing number of zircon geochronology laboratories.

This technique has proved reliable in dating relatively simple magmatic rocks with homogeneous zircon populations and has proved most effective in the dating of detrital zircon grains where high precision is not required.

Many of these features can be recognized in 2-dimensional CL images, and isotopic analysis of such domains using a high resolution ion-microprobe with only shallow penetration of the zircon surface may be able to reconstruct much of the magmatic and complex post-magmatic history of such grains.Do zircons—crystals of zirconium silicate—contain clocks you can trust?Crystals of zirconium silicate can be found inside many sorts of rocks in the earth’s crust.Oxygen isotopes and atoms of radioactive uranium trapped in the crystals are, many believe, frozen in time.Confined as they are in these crystals, many scientists believe that the ratio of parent radioactive uranium to daughter lead atoms in zircons can be used to calculate the ages of the crystals.From it they suggest information the secular world finds surprising about hospitable conditions on the early earth.

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