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Much progress has been made in the past decade with respect to the genesis of zircon and its constraints on interpretation of U-Pb age.
Three methods have been proposed to link zircon U-Pb age to metamorphic conditions: (i) internal structure; (ii) trace element feature; (iii) mineral inclusion composition.
Magmatic zircons from different rock types have variable trace element abundances, with a general trend of increasing trace element abundances in zircons from ultramafic through mafic to granitic rocks.
However, it has been a difficult issue when relating zircon U-Pb ages to metamorphic conditions in complex metamorphic rocks.
The probability distribution of a representative sample of zircon U-Pb ages from a detrital population can serve as a characteristic fingerprint that may be used to trace the flow of sand through sediment routing systems.
As a provenance tracer, zircon U-Pb data are less susceptible to winnowing effects than conventional petrographic techniques.
Therefore, interpretation of zircon U-Pb ages can be constrained by its internal structure, trace element composition, mineral inclusion and so on.
no isotope occurs in more than one series (Figure 2.2).