Radioactive decay and radiometric dating
The term U–Pb dating normally implies the coupled use of both decay schemes in the 'concordia diagram' (see below).However, use of a single decay scheme (usually Pb) leads to the U–Pb isochron dating method, analogous to the rubidium–strontium dating method.For example lavas dated by K-Ar that are historic in age, usually show 1 to 2 my old ages due to trapped Ar.
The initial ratio has particular importance for studying the chemical evolution of the Earth's mantle and crust, as we discussed in the section on igneous rocks. If this happens, then the date obtained will be older than the date at which the magma erupted.
Pb leakage is the most likely cause of discordant dates, since Pb will be occupying a site in the crystal that has suffered radiation damage as a result of U decay.
U would have been stable in the crystallographic site, but the site is now occupied by by Pb.
Prior to 1905 the best and most accepted age of the Earth was that proposed by Lord Kelvin based on the amount of time necessary for the Earth to cool to its present temperature from a completely liquid state.
Although we now recognize lots of problems with that calculation, the age of 25 my was accepted by most physicists, but considered too short by most geologists. Recognition that radioactive decay of atoms occurs in the Earth was important in two respects: Principles of Radiometric Dating Radioactive decay is described in terms of the probability that a constituent particle of the nucleus of an atom will escape through the potential (Energy) barrier which bonds them to the nucleus.
If a zircon crystal originally crystallizes from a magma and remains a closed system (no loss or gain of U or Pb) from the time of crystallization to the present, then the Discordant dates will not fall on the Concordia curve.