Of all the isotopic dating methods in use today, the uranium-lead method is the oldest and, when done carefully, the most reliable. Unlike any other method, uranium-lead has a natural cross-check built into it that shows when nature has tampered with the evidence. Uranium comes in two common isotopes with atomic weights of and we'll call them U and U. Both are unstable and radioactive, shedding nuclear particles in a cascade that doesn't stop until they become lead Pb.
Historical Geology/U-Pb, Pb-Pb, and fission track dating - Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Uranium—lead dating , abbreviated U—Pb dating , is one of the oldest  and most refined of the radiometric dating schemes. It can be used to date rocks that formed and crystallised from about 1 million years to over 4. The method is usually applied to zircon. This mineral incorporates uranium and thorium atoms into its crystal structure , but strongly rejects lead when forming. As a result, newly-formed zircon deposits will contain no lead, meaning that any lead found in the mineral is radiogenic. Since the exact rate at which uranium decays into lead is known, the current ratio of lead to uranium in a sample of the mineral can be used to reliably determine its age.
U-Pb zircon geochronology
This page provides a short tutorial leading through some steps that are required for obtaining U-Pb zircon ages using the UCLA ims ion microprobe:. Pb isotope intensity of zircon during O - ion bombardement is significantly enhanced if the sample surface is saturated with regard to oxygen. During zircon analysis, oxygen gas is leaked through a valve into the ims sample chamber. Note: in order to open EP10, EP11 or to vent the door, the leak valve has to be closed 1. At the beginning of an analytical session or when analytical parameters such as primary beam intensity or spot size were changed, energy offsets for all measured ion species must be determined.
In this article we shall discuss the basis of the U-Pb and Pb-Pb methods, and also fission track dating. It has a half-life of 4. It is also useful to know of the existence of Pb lead , which is neither unstable nor radiogenic. We can always try U-Pb dating using the isochron method , but this often doesn't work: the compositions of the minerals involved, when plotted on an isochron diagram , fail to lie on a straight line. There seem to be two reasons for this.