Faculty Mentor

Chad Pritchard

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U/Pb radiometric dating of zircon is one of the most widely used methods to determine the crystallization ages of igneous and metamorphic rocks and the provenance of sedimentary rocks. Eastern Washington University (EWU) has collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to build a mineral separation lab for isolating zircon (and other) minerals for analysis. This lab was completed in Fall 2022 and is currently being transferred to the new ISC for future use. Graphically illustrated below are the methods used for sampling and pulverizing the rock, as well as grain mount preparation techniques. One of the EWU projects that is benefiting from the new lab is a mapping and detrital zircon geochronology study of local steptoes and exposures of rocks formed prior to the Columbia River Flood Basalts. The mineral separation lab is now established, so we are entering into the field work and mineral separation parts of deciphering the tectonic past of Spokane’s regional geology.

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