Microprobe monazite geochronology: Understanding geologic processes by integrating composition and chronology

Michael L. Williams, Michael J. Jercinovic, Callum J. Hetherington

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

300 Scopus citations


Monazite is a light rare earth element (LREE)-bearing phosphate mineral that is present in a wide variety of rock types, has an extremely variable composition reflecting host rock conditions, and is a robust geochronometer that can preserve crystallization ages through a long history of geological events. Monazite crystals typically contain distinct compositional domains that represent successive generations of monazite, which in turn, can provide a detailed record of the geologic history of its host rocks. The electron microprobe can be used to characterize the geometry of compositional domains, analyze the composition of each domain, and, when carefully configured, determine the U-Th-total Pb age for domains as small as 5 μm in width. These data allow the monazite to be linked with, and place timing constraints on, silicate processes in the host rocks. Current applications span a broad range of geologic processes in igneous, metamorphic, hydrothermal, and sedimentary rocks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
EditorsRaymond Jeanloz, Arden Albee, Kevin Burke, Katherine Freeman
Number of pages39
StatePublished - 2007

Publication series

NameAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
ISSN (Print)0084-6597


  • Analytical methods
  • Chemical reaction
  • Crystal chemistry
  • Deformation
  • Electron microprobe

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