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.For example lavas dated by K-Ar that are historic in age, usually show 1 to 2 my old ages due to trapped Ar.Such trapped Ar is not problematical when the age of the rock is in hundreds of millions of years.Zircon has a high hardness (7.5) which makes it resistant to mechanical weathering, and it is also very resistant to chemical weathering. Chemically, zircon usually contains high amounts of U and low amounts of Pb, so that large amounts of radiogenic Pb are produced.Other minerals that also show these properties, but are less commonly used in radiometric dating are Apatite and sphene.We can also construct a Concordia diagram, which shows the values of Pb isotopes that would give concordant dates.The Concordia curve can be calculated by defining the following: ).
Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel.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.Sometimes, however, numerous discordant dates from the same rock will plot along a line representing a chord on the Concordia diagram. is then interpreted to be the date that the system became closed, and the younger date, t*, the age of an event (such as metamorphism) that was responsible for Pb leakage.As a result, rocks that record its earliest history have not been found and probably no longer exist.Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence that the Earth and the other bodies of the Solar System are 4.5-4.6 billion years old, and that the Milky Way Galaxy and the Universe are older still.