Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden


The Section Geochronology

Our section deals with the age dating of rocks.

The Section Geochronology Group Photo


Our research contributes to the Research Field Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics.

General objectives:

 The Section Geochronology performs in-situ analysis on geological materials by making use of Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy combined with Laser Ablation (LA ICP-MS).

 We do U-Pb dating on zircon, rutile, monazite, and uranium minerals. Especially, we deal with magmatic, detrital, and metamorphic zircon.

 Another application is the analysis of trace elements and REE of zircon and other minerals.

 Further, we include in our research Lu-Hf isotopes of zircon. Analysis are performed in collaboration with the LA-ICP-MS Lab of the Intitute of Geosciences at the University of Frankfurt am Main (Dr. Axel Gerdes).


Scientific objectives:

 Provenance analysis of Precambrian and Phanerozoic clastic sedimentary rocks and recent river deposits by U-Pb dating of detrital zircon grains (includes the determination of the maximum age of sedimentation).

 U-Pb zircon ages of intrusion and dating of inherited zircons of plutonic and effusive rocks (includes the determination of geological minimum ages).

 U-Pb zircon ages ash beds (tuffs) to produce an age of sedimentation.

Zircon from the Brocken Massif (Harz Mts.) 
Zirkon from the Brocken Massif (Harz Mts.) with two laser spots


Project objectives:

 Establishment of zircon provinces (U-Pb. Lu-Hf): Palaeogeographical reconstructions based on provenance studies of clastic sediments from the Gondwanan and Laurussian margins.

 In-situ analysis of U-Th-Pb and Lu-Hf isotopes on zircon and other minerals will be used for the reconstruction of the crustal evolution of Precambrian and Pan-African orogens of the Gondwana supercontinent.

 Reconstruction of Cadomian and Variscan orogenic processes during Pangaea configuration.

 Research on the coupling of orogenic processes with the origin of multi-cellular life during the Ediacaran early palaeo-ecosystems in the Precambrian-Cambrian transition, and the palaeoenvironment.

 Age dating of Precambrian and Palaeozoic glacial events and impact on the evolution of life.

 Zircon populations and destruction mechanisms of zircon grains in recent river systems.


The Networking of the Section