Microstructural and isotopic analysis of shocked monazite from the Hiawatha impact structure: Development of porosity and its utility in dating impact craters

William R. Hyde, Gavin G. Kenny, Martin J. Whitehouse, Richard Wirth, Vladimir Roddatis, Anja Schreiber, Adam A. Garde, Anders Plan, Nicolaj K. Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


U–Pb geochronology of shocked monazite can be used to date hypervelocity impact events. Impact-induced recrystallisation and formation of mechanical twins in monazite have been shown to result in radiogenic Pb loss and thus constrain impact ages. However, little is known about the effect of porosity on the U–Pb system in shocked monazite. Here we investigate monazite in two impact melt rocks from the Hiawatha impact structure, Greenland by means of nano- and micrometre-scale techniques. Microstructural characterisation by scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy imaging and electron backscatter diffraction reveals shock recrystallisation, microtwins and the development of widespread micrometre- to nanometre-scale porosity. For the first time in shocked monazite, nanophases identified as cubic Pb, Pb3O4, and cerussite (PbCO3) were observed. We also find evidence for interaction with impact melt and fluids, with the formation of micrometre-scale melt-bearing channels, and the precipitation of the Pb-rich nanophases by dissolution–precipitation reactions involving pre-existing Pb-rich high-density clusters. To shed light on the response of monazite to shock metamorphism, high-spatial-resolution U–Pb dating by secondary ion mass spectrometry was completed. Recrystallised grains show the most advanced Pb loss, and together with porous grains yield concordia intercept ages within uncertainty of the previously established zircon U–Pb impact age attributed to the Hiawatha impact structure. Although porous grains alone yielded a less precise age, they are demonstrably useful in constraining impact ages. Observed relatively old apparent ages can be explained by significant retention of radiogenic lead in the form of widespread Pb nanophases. Lastly, we demonstrate that porous monazite is a valuable microtexture to search for when attempting to date poorly constrained impact structures, especially when shocked zircon or recrystallised monazite grains are not present.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Number of pages26
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Hiawatha
  • Hypervelocity impact
  • Monazite
  • Radiogenic Pb
  • Shock metamorphism
  • SIMS U–Pb

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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