EOSC 523 · Isotope Geology

This course is not eligible for Credit/D/Fail grading.

Course Availability & Schedule

Course Webpage

Learning Goals

  • Determine the absolute ages of rocks and minerals.
  • Use geochemical analyses and principles to decipher the processes of formation of rocks and minerals, earth materials, the environment and Planet Earth.
  • Explain how radiogenic isotopic systematics can be used to fingerprint reservoir compositions, source of contaminants in the environment.
  • Assess the accuracy and precision of geochemical analyses and datasets.-


Dominique Weis


Pdf files of each lecture will be posted on the class website (see Web content).

F. Albarède: Geochemistry, an introduction – 2009
C. Allègre: Isotope Geology, Cambridge – 2008

W.M. White: Geochemistry, Wiley-Blackwell – 2013

Treatise on Geochemistry. Elsevier – 2003, updated in 2007:

C.M. Johnson, B.L.Beard, F. Albarède: Geochemistry of non-traditional stable isotopes, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry vol. 55. Mineralogical Society of America - 2004

Other books of interest and related to the material taught in class:
A.P. Dickin: Radiogenic Isotope Geology, 2d edition, Cambridge – 2005
Ed. by Robin Gill: Modern analytical geochemistry, Longman - 1997 

G. Faure and T.M. Mensing: Isotopes: Principles and Applications, 3rd edition, Wiley - 2005
Valley and Cole: Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry vol. 43. Mineralogical Society of America - 2001.

Lecture Topics

  • Week 1: Introduction: schedule, class philosophy, homeworks, reference material, etc … Project work for the term (mostly September-October)
  • Week 2: Basic concepts and principles; Rb-Sr isotope systematics; Sm-Nd isotope systematics
  • Week 3: Common Pb, mineral deposits; Accuracy, precision and statistics; Lu-Hf isotope systematics;Instruments, techniques, chemistry
  • Week 4: U-Pb geochronology (pt 1, 2); PCIGR lab tours
  • Week 5: Stable isotopes; Hg isotopes
  • Week 6: Ar-Ar geochronology; Other isotope systems; Si isotopes
  • Week 7: (no class on Oct 13, Thanksgiving): Heavy stable isotopes
  • Week 8: GSA meeting; MAGNET workshop: LA-ICP-MS
  • Week 9: Environmental applications: Pb isotopes as a tracer of pollution; Cd isotopes
  • Week 10: Radiogenic isotopes and subduction zone magmatism
  • Week 11: Chemical Geodynamics
  • Week 12: Radiogenic isotopes and mantle geodynamics
  • Week 13: Lu-Hf in zircon and evolution of the continental crust; Layered Intrusions; Where is home? Is the Earth really chondritic? Early Earth and Cosmochemistry


see web content

  • In the first part of the class, the labs are directly related to the class material. The idea is for the students to apply what they learn in class [calculation of errors, isochrons, ages, initial ratios, ...]
  • In the second part of the class, the exercices will consist of group readings of articles relevant to the course material.