Institut für Mineralogie und Kristallographie
Fakultät für Geowissenschaften, Geographie und Astronomie
Universität Wien

Althanstraße 14 (UZA 2), A-1090 Wien

Sekretariat: Mo-Mi: 9-12 & 13-16; Do: 13-17; Fr: 9-13;
Tel.: (+431) 4277 53201, FAX: (+431) 4277 9532,








Lutz Nasdala

Lutz Nasdala, Univ.-Prof.

Raumnummer 2A251
Tel.: (+431) 4277 53220



Research interests and current co-operation and activities:

My main research interests lie in the general area of mineralogy and mineral physics. They are particularly related to the study of real structures of minerals (i.e., deviations from the ideal structural and chemical composition) and their use for the interpretation of mineral and rock formation and alteration processes. They include the following areas in which I plan to continue my research in the next years (selection, not complete):

(a) Radiation damage in U-Th-bearing minerals: Structural determination, and characterization of the variations in the chemical and physical behavior, such as changes in the diffusion of helium. The main research goal is to contribute to the understanding of effects on radiometric age determinations and potential immobilization and alteration processes in radioactive waste forms, and to use the degree of damage retention to conclude on the thermal history of radioactive accessories and their host rocks.


        Co-operation with P.W. Reiners (Tucson, AZ,), A.K. Kennedy (Perth, WA), R. Wirth (Potsdam), A. Kronz (Göttingen), J.M. Hanchar (St. John's, NL, Canada), S. Kostrovitsky (Irkutsk), and others.

Cross-polarised transmitted light (a) and BSE image (b) of a heterogeneous zircon from the Saranac Prospect, Ontario. Finger-like altered areas (which are not affected by notable U leaching!) at the ends of fractures are recognised from their birefringence and dark BSE.


zircon xenocryst
Back-scattered electrons (BSE) and cross-polarised light (CPL) images and Concordia plot of a zircon xenocryst from the Bargidamalah kimberlite pipe in Northern Yakutia. The main, ca. 2830 Ma old, U-rich interior region is metamict (see absence of any birefringence). The inherited, zoned core is lower in U and shows low to moderate interference colours, its U–Pb age is ca. 3570 Ma.

Nasdala, L., Kronz, A., Wirth, R., Váczi, T., Pérez-Soba, C., Willner, A., Kennedy, A.K. (2009): Alteration of radiation-damaged zircon and the related phenomenon of deficient electron microprobe totals. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73, 1637-1650.
Nasdala, L., Hanchar, J.M., Rhede, D., Kennedy, A.K., Váczi, T. (2010): Retention of uranium in complexly altered zircon: An example from Bancroft, Ontario. Chemical Geology, 269, 299-300.

Nasdala, L., Kostrovitsky, S., Kennedy, A.K., Zeug, M., Esenkulova, S.A. (2014): Retention of radiation damage in zircon xenocrysts from kimberlites, Northern Yakutia. Lithos, 206–207, 252–261.

  (b) Irradiation effects in minerals: Creation of structural changes in minerals and their synthetic analogues by light- and heavy-ion irradiation, in particular of FIB-prepared thin lamellae. Main goals include the understanding of the radiation-induced colouration (diamond, cordierite) and defect luminescence (zircon, monazite, quartz), and to contribute to a more quantitative estimation of structural damage caused by corpuscular irradiation.

       Co-operation with S. Akhmadaliev (Dresden-Rossendorf), C. Lenz (Wien; currently Sydnay and Clayton), C. Chanmuang and G. Habler (Wien), T. Váczi (Budapest), and others.

beamline The nuclear reaction analysis beamline at the 5 MV tandem accelerator of the Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany, where ion-irradiation experiments were done.

confocal spectrometer

(a) Sketch visualising the depth resolution of a confocal spectrometer. (b) Preparation of thin samples in a focused ion beam (SE image). Conducting experiments with samples whose thicknesses are well below the spectrometer’s depth resolution performance helps a lot to exclude artefacts that may be caused by confocality limits.


Luminescence images of light-ion irradiated samples: (a) UV-excited PL image of a diamond slice irradiated along the direction of view. (b) OM-CL image of a synthetic zircon crystal (irradiation direction marked with arrow). In both cases, the ion irradiation has created defect-related emission centres.

Nasdala, L., Grötzschel, R., Probst, S., Bleisteiner, B. (2010): Irradiation damage in monazite-(Ce): an example to establish the limits of Raman confocality and depth resolution. Canadian Mineralogist, 48, 351-359.
Nasdala, L., Grambole, D., Götze, J., Kempe, U., Váczi, T. (2011): Helium irradiation study on zircon. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 161, 777-789.
Nasdala, L., Grambole, D., Wildner, M., Gigler, A.M., Hainschwang, T., Zaitsev, A.M., Harris, J.W., Milledge, J., Schulze, D.J., Hofmeister, W., Balmer, W.A. (2013): Radio-colouration of diamond: a spectroscopic study. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 165, 843–861.


(c) Experimental improvement and application of spectroscopic in situ-analyses: Identification of micrometre-sized phases and characterisation of their structural state, to contribute to the reconstruction of the samples’ formation and post-growth history. Study of absorption and emission centres in natural minerals with particular focus on REE centres in accessories.


        Co-operation with J. Götze (Freiberg), M. Gaft (Petah Tikva, Israel), M. Wildner (Wien), D. Talla (Brno), A.M. Zaitsev (Staten Island, NY), J.W. Harris (Glasgow), and others.

(a) Suevite clast from the Ries impact crater (BSE image), showing a pseudotrachylite vein with stishovite (bright) whose presence indicates shock compression to ca. 30 GPa. The neighbouring diaplectic quartz is characterized by numerous planar deformation features. (b) Selection of Raman spectra supporting the phase identification.


Steady-state PL spectra of synthetic malayaite pigments (Ar+ 488 nm excitation), showing how effectively the presence of chromium quenches REE-related emissions.

Stähle, V., Altherr, R., Koch, M., Nasdala, L. (2008): Shock-induced growth and metastability of stishovite and coesite in lithic clasts from suevite of the Ries impact crater (Germany). Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 155, 457-472.

Pearson, D.G., Brenker, F.E., Nestola, F., McNeill, J., Nasdala, L., Hutchison, M.T., Matveev, S., Mather, K., Silversmit, G., Schmitz, S., Vekemans, B. Vincze, L. (2014): Hydrous mantle transition zone indicated by ringwoodite included within diamond. Nature, 507, 221–224.
Nasdala, L., Stoyanova Lyubenova, T., Gaft, M., Wildner, M., Diegor, W., Petautschnig, C., Talla, D. & Lenz, C. (2014): Photoluminescence of synthetic titanite-group pigments: A rare quenching effect. Chemie der Erde – Geochemistry, 74, 419–424.


(d) Application of imaging and mapping techniques: Visualisation and characterisation of internal growth and alteration textures of minerals. Main goals include the physical understanding of the observed heterogeneity, investigation of artefacts as caused by the electron beam in the EPMA or the SEM, and the visualisation of patterns of internal stress / strain.


        Co-operation with D. Howell (currently Frankfurt and Bristol), J. Götze (Freiberg), A. Kronz (Göttingen), R. Wirth (Potsdam), T. Váczi (Budapest), R. Abart (Wien, and others.

cutted zircon

In contrast to previous assumptions, the BSE intensity of natural zircon crystals was found not to be mainly controlled by the chemical composition: (a) Sketch of a heterogeneous zircon crystal that was cut in half, with one half being annealed to reconstitute the structure. (b) BSE image. (c) Colour-coded Raman map, visualising the degree of disorder. Note that the chemical zoning has rather mild effects on the observed BSE, whereas the BSE intensity correlates with the structural disorder (Raman FWHM broadening). In conclusion, the electron back-scatter intensity is strongly enhanced by structural damage.


Colour-coded EPMA element distribution images of an altered region adjacent to a large fracture in a fergusonite specimen from Madagascar. Uranium shows a rather chaotic distribution pattern, suggesting a non-uniform or even multi-step alteration progress. Yttrium is depleted in altered fergusonite areas compared to the unaltered bulk, but is a main constituent of the young fracture filling.


Photoluminescence (PL) study of a zoned zircon from Plešovice, Czech Republic. (a) Hyperspectral PL map, visualizing stress release near fractures (red). (b) Plot of FWHM against position of the Dy3+ emission line near 17,260 cm–1. Black, data for variably radiation-damaged, unstressed zircon (from Lenz and Nasdala, 2015).
zoned zircon

Nasdala, L., Kronz, A., Hanchar, J.M., Tichomirowa, M., Davis, D.D., Hofmeister, W. (2006): Effects of natural radiation damage on back-scattered electron images of single-crystals of minerals. American Mineralogist, 91, 1739-1746.

Ruschel, K., Nasdala, L., Rhede, D., Wirth, R., Lengauer, C.L., Libowitzky E. (2010): Chemical alteration patterns in metamict fergusonite. European Journal of Mineralogy, 22, 425-433.
Lenz, C., Nasdala, L. (2015): A photoluminescence study of REE3+ emissions in radiation-damaged zircon. American Mineralogist, 100, 1123–1133.


(e) Characterisation of gems as references: Retrieval and characterisation of highest-quality gem materials (especially zircon, titanite) in view of their possible use as international reference material for SIMS U–Pb geochronology (i.e. age determination using large-geometry ion microprobe systems) and stable-isotope analysis.


        Co-operation with A.K. Kennedy (Perth, WA), P.W. Reiners (Tucson, AZ,), J. Mattinson (Santa Barbara, CA), F. Corfu (Oslo), F.-Y. Wu and Q.-L. Li (Beijing), J.W. Valley (Madison, WI), B. Wanthanachaisaeng (Burapha Univ., Chanthaburi), G. Zoysa (Mt. Lavinia, Sri Lanka), and others.

Zircon M257

Zircon M257, a moderately metamict but nevertheless extremely homogeneous, gem-quality specimen from Sri Lanka. Its chemical, isotopic, and structural composition has been characterised in detail. The 561.3 Ma old zircon will be used as U–Pb ion microprobe standard material in the SHRIMP labs in Perth, Beijing, and St. Petersburg.

Uranium-lead geochronology of reference zircon M127 from Sri Lanka: Concordia pot of CA–TIMS data obtained at the University of California (17 plateau steps), yielding a concordant U–Pb age of 524.4 ± 0.5 million years.

zircon M127

Nasdala, L., Hofmeister, W., Norberg, N., Mattinson, J. M., Corfu, F., Dörr, W., Kamo, S. L., Kennedy, A. K., Kronz, A., Reiners, P. W., Frei, D., Kosler, J., Wan, Y., Götze, J., Häger T., Kröner, A., Valley, J.W. (2008): Zircon M257 – a homogeneous natural reference material for the ion microprobe U-Pb analysis of zircon. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 32, 247–265.

Kennedy, A.K., Kamo, S.L., Nasdala, L., Timms, N.E. (2010): Greenville skarn titanite: Potential reference material for SIMS U–Th–Pb analysis. Canadian Mineralogist, 48, 1423–1443.