Exploring laser ablation U–Pb dating of regional metamorphic garnet – The Straits Schist, Connecticut, USA

Leo J. Millonig*, Richard Albert, Axel Gerdes, Dov Avigad, Craig Dietsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Garnet is a prominent recorder of metamorphic processes and plays a pivotal role in deciphering the pressure-temperature evolution of metamorphic rocks. However, the potential of regional metamorphic garnet for laser ablation U–Pb dating remains unexplored, as variable and low U (<0.1 μg/g) coupled with elevated initial Pb contents make analyses challenging, and the presence of U-rich inclusions can affect results. We applied LA-ICP-MS U–Pb dating to garnet and zircon, monazite, and xenotime from The Straits Schist, western Connecticut, USA, to constrain the timing of garnet growth within the overall Acadian-age metamorphic history recorded by this unit. We assessed the effects of U-rich inclusions on garnet U–Pb data using high-resolution microbeam sampling, grain size analysis, and calculations assessing how inclusion size and abundance affect U concentrations measured in garnet. When analysing garnet, our results demonstrate that by scrutinizing the time-resolved U-signal, U-rich inclusions can be identified and effectively removed during data evaluation. If U-rich inclusions are unaccounted for, ‘garnet’ analyses have elevated U contents compared to pure garnet and in a Tera-Wasserburg diagram, data points are shifted to the left, right, or along the garnet regression line, for inclusions older, younger or of the same age as the garnet, respectively. Garnet from two metapelitic samples yielded lower intercept ages of 409 ± 10 Ma and 406 ± 15 Ma, and a combined U–Pb age of 406.1 ± 8.3 Ma. Metamorphic zircon yielded age clusters at 446.2 ± 4.2 Ma, 413.3 ± 3.0 Ma, and 382.9 ± 2.8 Ma, monazite ages range between 390 and 355 Ma, and xenotime yielded 370.1 ± 5.6 Ma. The ∼446 Ma age peak is attributed to detrital zircon formed during the waning stages of the Taconian orogeny. Early Acadian metamorphism is recorded by garnet and ∼413 Ma zircon, whereas monazite and zircon ages of 390 to 383 Ma, coincide with peak metamorphic conditions. Early Carboniferous monazite and xenotime ages could reflect the incursion of fluids into The Straits Schist during Neo-Acadian metamorphism, coeval plutonism in New England, or breakdown of garnet during regional exhumation.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number116589
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Acadian orogeny
  • U–Pb dating
  • garnet
  • regional metamorphism


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