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Geochemistry, Petrology and Geochronology

Geochemistry, Petrology and Geochronology

The UCD Geochemistry, Petrology and Geochronology Group uses geochemistry and isotope geology to address a wide range of geochronological, geochemical and petrological questions in the Earth Sciences. Our geochronological research is capable of investigating the entirety of the geological record.  We currently focus on U-Pb dating and petrogenesis of Precambrian basement rocks, Caledonian granites, marine phosphogenesis, pegmatite-associated lithium deposits, and Re-Os dating of black shales and sulphides in base metal deposits. Irish mineral deposits are also dated indirectly using U-Pb apatite and zircon ages from stratigraphically close basaltic volcanic ash layers. Members of the group also employ in-situ laser ablation techniques to characterise the Pb isotope signatures of feldspars, as well as Hf isotopes in zircon and other detrital minerals, to investigate the evolution of major fluvial systems and sedimentary basins, to test lithospheric terrane boundary models, and to elucidate the crystallization history of rare metal pegmatites. U-series geochronology is employed to date late-Quaternary terrestrial carbonates such as speleothems for palaeoclimate reconstructions and palaeoanthropology.  Trace elements, and isotope ratios (including Nd, Sr, Hf and Pb) are also used for groundwater tracing, petrogenetic studies of granites, investigating metal (especially PGE) concentrating mechanisms in layered intrusions and ophiolites, identifying exotic individuals in archaeological human populations and the origin of Bronze Age metal artefacts. Engineered metallic nanoparticles (Au, Ag) are used for environmental tracing using single particle detection (SP-ICP-MS) methods. The Re-Os system is used to date metallic ore deposits and to trace the origin of metals within the ores. These data assist to develop and assess genetic models of ore formation. We also apply the Re-Os method as a chronostratigraphic tool to date organic-rich sediments, which has important implications for basin and tectonic reconstruction. The Os isotope signature of organic-rich rocks is also used as an environmental proxy in paleoclimate research.     

The group has strong links to other research groups in the School, including the Marine and Earth Surface Processes, Palaeoclimate and Quaternary Geoscience and Earth Resources groups. Members of the group established the National Centre for Isotope Geochemistry (NCIG) in collaboration with colleagues from several of the other Irish geoscience departments.  Details of the instrumentation and facilities for isotope and other geochemical work are given in the NCIG website.

Recent publications

Arboit, F., Min, M., Chew, D., Mitchell, A., Drost, K., Badenszki, E. and Daly, J.S. (2021) Constraining the links between the Himalayan belt and the Central Myanmar Basins: a multi-proxy detrital geochronology and trace-element geochemistry study. Geoscience Frontiers, 12, 657-676. 

Bolaños-Benítez, V., McDermott, F., Gill, L., and Knappe, J. (2020) Engineered silver nanoparticle (Ag-NP) behaviour in domestic on-site wastewater treatment plants and in sewage sludge amended-soils.  Science of the Total Environment 722 (2020) 137794

Grün, R., Pike, A., McDermott, F., Eggins, S., Mortimer, G., Aubert, M., Kinsley, L., Joannes-Boyau, R., Rumsey, M., Denys, C., Brink, J., Clark, T. & Stringer, C. (2020) Dating the skull from Broken Hill, Zambia, and its position in human evolution. Nature 580, 372-375.

Hall, W.S., Hitzman, M.W., Kuiper, Y.D., Kylander-Clark, A.R.C., Holm-Denoma, C.S., Moscati, R.J., Plink-Bjorklund, P., and Enders, M.S., 2018, Igneous and detrital zircon U-Pb and Lu-Hf geochronology of the late Meso- to Neoproterozoic northwest Botswana rift: maximum depositional age and provenance of the Ghanzi Group, Kalahari Copperbelt, Botswana and Namibia: Precambrian Research, v. 118, p.133-155. 

Hepworth, L.N., Daly, J.S., Gertisser, R., Johnson, C.G., Emeleus, C.H. and O’Driscoll, B. (2020) Rapid crystallisation of precious metal-mineralised layers in mafic magmatic systems. Nature Geoscience, 13, 375-381. 

Hnatyshin, D., Creaser, R. A., Meffre, S., Stern, R. A., Wilkinson, J. J., and Turner, E. C., 2020, Understanding the microscale spatial distribution and mineralogical residency of Re in pyrite: Examples from carbonate-hosted Zn-Pb ores and implications for pyrite Re-Os geochronology. Chemical Geology, v. 533, 119427.

Hutchinson, M., Hitzman, M.W., Wendlandt, R.F. and Slezak, P., in review, REE enrichment in the lower weathering profile of the Bull Hill carbonatite at Bear Lodge, Wyoming: Economic Geology.

Kaeter, D., Barros, R. and Menuge, J.F. (2021) Metasomatic-hydrothermal HFSE, tin and base metal enrichment processes in lithium pegmatites, SE Ireland, and their relationship to late-orogenic Li-Sn(-W) systems. Economic Geology, 116, 169-198.

O’Sullivan, G.J., Daly, J.S., Murray, J., Ó’Gogáin, A., Chew, D.M., Drakou, F., Guyett, P.C., Badenszki, E. and Hoare, B.C. (2021) Uranium-Lead Phosphate Chronostratigraphy: a Proof of Concept from the mid-Carboniferous Boundary. Sedimentary Geology, 422, 105961. 

O'Sullivan, G.J. and Chew, D.M. (2020) The clastic record of a Wilson Cycle: Evidence from detrital apatite petrochronology of the Grampian-Taconic fore-arc. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 552, 2020, 116588.

Paradis, S., Hnatyshin, D., Simandl, G. J. and Creaser, R. A., 2020, Re-Os pyrite geochronology of the Yellowhead-type mineralization, Pend Oreille mine, Kootenay arc, Metaline District, Washington: Economic Geology. 

Popov, D., Spikings, R.A., Scaillet, S., O'Sullivan, G., Chew, D.; Badenszki, E., Daly, J.S., Razakamanana T. and Davies, J.H. (2020). Diffusion and fluid interaction in Itrongay pegmatite (Madagascar): evidence from in situ 40Ar/39Ar dating of gem-quality alkali feldspar and U-Pb dating of protogenetic apatite inclusions. Chemical Geology, 556, 119841. 

Russell, A., McDermott, F., McGrory, E., Cooper, M., Henry, T. and Morrison, L. (2021) As-Co-Ni sulfarsenides in Palaeogene basaltic cone sheets as sources of groundwater arsenic contamination in co. Louth, Ireland. Applied Geochemistry 127, 104914.

Slezak, P., Spandler, C., Border, A., and Whittock, K. 2021, Geology and ore genesis of the carbonatite-associated Yangibana LREE district, Gascoyne Province, Western Australia. Mineralium Deposita, 56, 1007-1026. 

Spandler, C., Slezak, P., and Nazari-Dehkordi, T. 2020, Tectonic significance of Australian rare earth element deposits. Earth Science Reviews, 207: 16. 

Tappe, S., Stracke, A., van Acken, D., Strauss, H. and Luguet, A. (2020) Origins of kimberlites and carbonatites during continental collision – Insights beyond decoupled Nd-Hf isotopes. Earth-Science Reviews 208, 103287. 

van Acken, D., Tütken, T., Daly, J.S., Schmid-Röhl, A. and Orr, P.J. (2019) Rhenium-osmium geochronology of the Toarcian Posidonia Shale, SW Germany. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 534, 109294. 

Xu, W., Ruhl, M., Jenkyns, H.C., Leng, M.J., Huggett, J.M., Minisini, D., Ullmann, C.V., Riding, J.B., Weijers, J.W.H., Storm, M.S., Percival, L.M.E., Tosca, N.J., Idiz, E.F., Tegelaar, E.W., Hesselbo, S.P. (2018) Evolution of the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) carbon-cycle and global climatic controls on local sedimentary processes (Cardigan Bay Basin, UK). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 484, 396-411. 

Yesares, L., Drummond, D., Hollis, S.P., Doran, A.L., Menuge, J.F., Boyce, A.J., Blakeman, R. and Ashton, J. (2019) Coupling mineralogy, textures, stable and radiogenic isotopes in identifying ore-forming processes in Irish-type carbonate hosted Zn-Pb deposits. Minerals, 9, 335. 

Zhang, Z., Daly, J.S., Li, C., Tyrrell, S., Sun, X., Badenszki, E., Li, Y., Zhang, D., Tian, Y. and Yan, Y. 2021. Formation of the Three Gorges (Yangtze River) no earlier than 10 Ma. Earth Science Reviews, 216, 103601.