Accuracy of radiometric dating

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For each dating or chronological method there is a link in the box at right to take you to that section of this page.There, you will find a brief description of the method, plus links to take you to other webpages with more extensive information.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.Loss (leakage) of lead from the sample will result in a discrepancy in the ages determined by each decay scheme.This effect is referred to as discordance and is demonstrated in Figure 1.

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Uranium-lead dating techniques have also been applied to other minerals such as calcite/aragonite and other carbonate minerals.Hutton, a Scottish geologist, first proposed formally the fundamental principle used to classify rocks according to their relative ages.He concluded, after studying rocks at many outcrops, that each layer represented a specific interval of geologic time.Undamaged zircon retains the lead generated by radioactive decay of uranium and thorium until very high temperatures (about 900 °C), though accumulated radiation damage within zones of very high uranium can lower this temperature substantially.Zircon is very chemically inert and resistant to mechanical weathering—a mixed blessing for geochronologists, as zones or even whole crystals can survive melting of their parent rock with their original uranium-lead age intact.

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