One of the key aims of geochronology, and the subject of the papers in this Special Publication, is the linkage of isotopic ages to petrological and textural information. A close link between the two types of information greatly improves the constraints available from geochronology on the nature and rates of lithospheric processes such as metamorphism and deformation. There have been several key advances in this area over the past 10–20 years, relating to increased precision and accuracy of isotopic ages but also, and crucially, to the spatial resolution available to geochronologists. This resolution now approaches that on which petrological, chemical and textural information is obtained. We also, in this introduction, identify the barriers that have impeded further progress, which relate both to technical issues as well as to problems of understanding. Finally we set the papers in this volume in the context of the preceding discussion and outline the key ways in which these papers point towards further progress in the future.
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Geochronology: Linking the Isotopic Record with Petrology and Textures
Isotope geochemistry has produced many technical developments in the past decade or so that have revolutionized the potential information available on the tectonics of metamorphic belts from geochronology. These include the ability to date minerals and rocks on small spatial scales, scales that at last approach those from which other types of information — structural and petrological — are obtained. However, interpreting the new data, and their integration with the other datasets available, is not straightforward and requires careful chemical and textural observations that go hand-inhand with the geochronology. The increasing realization of the importance of this approach has led to a number of symposia at international conferences devoted to this topic in recent years. The set of papers in this book emanates from one such symposium and describes recent progress in integrating this new information with other datasets from metamorphic petrology on a mineral and sub-mineral scale.