The integrated in situ analysis of zircons for U-Pb age, Hf-isotope composition and trace-element composition using LAM-ICPMS, LAM-Multi-Collector (MC) ICPMS and electron microprobe (EMP) provides a powerful methodology (TerraneChron®) for studying crustal evolution and evaluating the metallogenic potential of terranes. The method can be applied to zircons separated from single rocks or to zircons picked from drainage samples judiciously collected within a defined catchment (on scales of 10 - 1000 km depending on the objective). The use of drainage samples has many advantages: nature has separated and concentrated a statistically more meaningful sample than is achievable by conventional single rock sampling and methods, and this can provide a more comprehensive coverage of rock types from the drainage region. The variations of Hf-isotope composition vs time in zircon populations is presented as curves (Event Signatures) reflecting the relative contributions of juvenile vs reworked material to each magmatic episode through time. These curves can be used to recognise patterns of crustal evolution favourable to mineralisation, to compare the evolution of different terranes, and to evaluate major crust-forming processes. The methodology provides a rapid, cost-effective tool for characterising the crustal history of areas ranging from single drainage basins to large terranes.