LA-MC-ICPMS and SHRIMP U-Pb dating of complex zircons from Quaternary tephras from the French Massif Central: Magma residence time and geochemical implications

Alain Cocherie*, C. Mark Fanning, Pierre Jezequel, Michèle Robert

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    Analyses of zircon grains from the Queureuilh Quaternary tephras (pumice) provide new information about their pre-eruptive history. U-Pb dating was performed in situ using two methods: SHRIMP and LA-MC-ICPMS equipped with a multi-ion counting system. Both methods provided reliable 207Pb/206Pb and 206Pb/238U ratios as well as U and Th abundances required for U-Pb Concordia intercept age determination, after initial 230Th disequilibrium correction. The new LA-MC-ICPMS method was validated by dating a reference zircon (61.308B) and zircons from a phonolitic lava dated independently with the two techniques. A time resolution of about 20 kyr for 1 Ma zircon crystals was achieved for both methods. The clear euhedral zircon population from Queureuilh tephras is quite complex from several points of view: (1) some grains are reddish or yellowish while others are colorless; (2) the U and Th composition changes by more than an order of magnitude and Th/U is generally high (∼1-2); (3) there are three discrete ages recorded at 2.35 ± 0.04, 1.017 ± 0.008 and 0.640 ± 0.010 Ma. From the previously determined 40Ar/39Ar age at 0.571 ± 0.060 Ma [Duffell H. (1999) Contribution géochronologique à la stratigraphie volcanique du Massif des Monts Dore par la méthode 40Ar/39Ar. D.E.A. Univ. Clermont-Ferrand, 56 p.], the discontinuous zircon age populations, the color of the grains and their composition, we favor the following model as explanation: The oldest, less numerous group of reddish zircons represents xenocrystic grains resulting from assimilation of the local material during magma ascent. A primitive magma chamber, perhaps deep in crustal level, was formed at 1.0 Ma. The related magma, previously characterized by high Th/U ratio (2.2 ± 1.1), underwent rejuvenation during ascent to a new chamber at shallow depth and/or during injection of more mafic magmas. During this stage, at 0.64 Ma, the colorless zircon grains of lower Th/U ratio (1.3 ± 0.5) crystallized. This last stage defined the magma residence time of 70 kyr prior to eruption dated by the 40Ar/39Ar method. However, if the primitive magma is considered, the magma residence time as a whole from this first stage reached 446 kyr. In the light of the complex history of such magmas, which commonly involves recycling of zircon grains that precipitated tens to hundreds of kyr earlier than eruptions, the use of Zr concentration in geochemical modeling of whole rock compositional data can be problematic.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1095-1108
    Number of pages14
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2009


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