The Geochronology Section is principally interested in U-Pb dating of zircon grains and other minerals (e.g. apatite, rutile, monazite, titanite, calcite, phosphate minerals) and rocks (e.g. limestone, dolomite). Samples to be analysed are going through a multistage sample preparation process in our labs. In the end uranium-bearing minerals (mainly zircon grains) were selected and studied.

The Geochronology Team is mainly focused on analysing detrital minerals, which allow conclusions on provenance, recycling cycles, and deposition rates of sediments.

In addition, we also deal with direct dating of magmatic and metamorphic rocks to get absolute ages, cooling steps, and metamorphic events.

The team of the Geochronology Section has two main fields of research and expertise: Europe and Africa.

Using LA-ICP-MS dating a variety of research questions were addressed. The research topics are mainly based on the analyses of U-Pb and Lu-Hf isotopic systems.


Research questions in Europe: 

  • How is the structure of the middle European crust and how did it evolve?
  • Which steps of crustal growth exist?
  • How can we define and distinguish crustal units of Europe?
  • How can we explain the crustal evolution of Precambrian and Pan-African orogenies of megacontinent Gondwana?
  • How can we reconstruct cadomian and variscan orogenic processes?
  • What tell us the detrital zircons of Proterozoic and Phanerozoic rocks about the evolution of middle Europe?
  • Where do the Mesozoic sediments of Germany come from (provenance study)?


Research questions in Africa (Morocco and Namibia):

  • How is the structure of the North African crust and how did it evolve (focus on Morocco).
  • What tell us the Neoproterozoic to Cambrian rock units of Morocco and Namibia about the evolution of complex life on Earth?
  • How did the southern part of Namibia evolve (Kalahari Craton)?
  • What tell us the Neoproterozoic glacial deposits of the Snowball Earth in Namibia and Morocco about the expansion and process of global glaciations?
  • How did Neoproterozoic glaciations affect the evolution of life on Earth?
  • Which affect did the Paleozoic glaciations have on the surface of Namibia?
  • How do the Karoo rift systems and associated sedimentary basins in southern Namibia fit into the timing of Gondwana evolution?
  • How did the recent river system of Namibia evolve?


The team of the Geochronology Section also deals with creating U-Pb zircon age data bases for Europe and parts of Africa. These data bases are permanently extended and updated based on new literature and new own results. They represent the backbone for some of our further research questions:

  • How can we define and distinguish zircon provinces based on U-Pb and Lu-Hf analyses?
  • Provenance analyses: Where do sediments come from? Where are their source areas?
  • How can we reconstruct sedimentary cycles based on provenance analyses and data bases?
  • Which sedimentary cycles can we detect?
  • How can provenance analyses help with reconstructing crustal evolution and paleo-environments?