11 Apr 2023
 | 11 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A global zircon U‒Th‒Pb geochronology database

Yujing Wu, Xianjun Fang, and Jianqing Ji

Abstract. Since the start of the 21st century, the widespread application of ion probes has promoted the mass output of high-precision and high-accuracy U‒Th‒Pb geochronology data. Zircon, as a commonly used mineral for U‒Th‒Pb dating, widely exists in the continental crust and records a variety of geological activities. Due to the universality and stability of zircons and the long half-lives of U and Th isotopes, zircon U‒Th‒Pb geochronology can provide nearly continuous records for almost the entire history of Earth and is thus essential to studying the growth and evolution of the continental crust and even Earth system evolution. Here, we present a database of zircon U‒Th‒Pb geochronology that samples the global continental crust and spans nearly all of Earth's history. This database collects ~2,000,000 geochronology records from ~12,000 papers and theses and is by far the largest geochronology database to our knowledge. This paper describes the complied raw data, presents the relationship between dating error and zircon age, compares the error levels of different dating methods, and discusses the impact of sampling bias on data analysis as well as how to evaluate and weaken this impact. In addition, we provide an overview of the temporal and spatial distribution of global zircon ages and provide key insights into the potential research value of zircon ages for Earth system science, such as crustal evolution, supercontinent cycles, plate tectonics, paleoclimate changes, biological extinction, as well as commercial use in mining and energy. Overall, this collection not only provides us with a comprehensive platform with which to study zircon chronological data in deep time and space but also makes it possible to explore the underlying geodynamic mechanisms and evolution of Earth’s system and its astronomical environment.

Yujing Wu et al.

Status: open (until 06 Jun 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-20', Stephen Puetz, 18 Apr 2023 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Yujing Wu, 04 May 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2023-20', Stephen Puetz, 04 May 2023 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on essd-2023-20', Marthe Klöcking, 15 May 2023 reply
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC3', Yujing Wu, 26 May 2023 reply

Yujing Wu et al.


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Short summary
We introduce the largest known zircon U‒Th‒Pb chronology database of the global continental crust. This database provides comprehensive research materials for Earth system science in deep time and space due to its large amount of data (~2 million records), long time span (4.4 billion years), global sampling range, comprehensive zircon types, and various dating methods.