In sedimentary rocks that have not been heated to high enough temperatures to anneal fission tracks in zircon (greater than ≈ 160°C), fission-track ages of individual detrital zircon grains provide valuable information about the source rocks eroded to form the sediments. The success of such studies depends, however, on the degree to which the ages determined from the detrital suite accurately portray the range of grain ages that are present in the suite. This in turn depends to a large extent on using counting and, in particular, etching procedures that permit proper sampling of grains with a wide range of age and uranium concentrations.
Results are reported here of an experimental study of a ‘detrital’ zircon suite manufactured from several zircon populations of known age. This study suggests that multiple etches are required when a complete spectrum of ages in a zircon suite is desired.