How Aluminum in Zircon Can Tell Us What Happened Billions of Years Ago – #365papers – 2017 – 150

#365papers for May 30, 2017

Trail, Tailby, Wang, Harrison, and Boehnke, 2017, Aluminum in zircon as evidence for peraluminous and metaluminous melts from the Hadean to present: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 18, p. 1580-1593.

What’s it about?

Zircon is a mineral that forms in igneous rocks. As the rocks erode away, the zircons often survive and can be mixed into younger rocks, including new igneous rocks. Here, the authors use the concentration of aluminum in the zircons to determine the type of igneous rock the zircon originally formed in.

Why does it matter?

It’s hard to find rocks of extreme age on Earth, as most of the original rocks have been lost to erosion or other processes. But parts of those original rocks – the zircons that formed in them – might be found in younger rocks making it possible to learn something about the earliest Earth.

Why did I read this?

The lead author, Dustin Trail, is a relatively new faculty member at my university. I was curious to read about his current research.

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