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Uranium-lead dating of phosphate minerals: Application to ancient basalts and anthropogenic reconstructions


The major scientific objectives of the proposed project are (1) to develop a new technique based on the U-Pb decay system for dating of the phosphate mineral phase (apatite) which is present in almost all geological and biological materials, (2) to apply t his technique for dating basalts and studying the evolution of the Hawaiian volcanic system, (3) to apply the new technique for dating fossil hominid-remains by relative geochronology and (4) to test the validity of the new method for dating directly the f ossil biological materials. This project will bring together two scientific disciplines, geology and anthropology, by using the same geochronological tool. This proposal involves a method development procedure at the beginning of the working period. This w ill be followed by the analyses of (1) Loihi lavas and (2) HSDP samples, with the main objective of studying the temporal evolution of the Hawaiian mantle plume. Our new technique will allow high precision dating and thus will help to constrain the time sc ale of the Earth mantle processes. Dating of lava flows surrounding the layers with fossil hominid-remains will allow determination of the age of the first hominids. Thus we will be able to reconstitute the migration history of the hominid populations. The validity of the new method for dating directly a biological material would be a significant step forward for the anthropological research. Therefore we will test our method for dating fossil enamel and dentin. Finally, this project will provide a precise geochronological tool with multidisciplinary validity and will tie different domains of the science.

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