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The growth of U, can be used over a time range from a few hundred to half a million years.Calcite precipitated from running or dripping water in springs and caves, as well as marls and soil-deposited calcretes may be spatio-temporally associated with archaeological materials; they can be dated by U measurements with a precision of ±5–10% of the age (by alpha counting) or ±1% (by mass spectrometry).But now imagine that some geologic event disturbs things to make the lead escape.That would take the zircons on a straight line back to zero on the concordia diagram.

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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 235 and 238 (we'll call them 235U and 238U).The straight line takes the zircons off the concordia. The disturbing event affects the zircons unequally, stripping all the lead from some, only part of it from others and leaving some untouched.The results from these zircons therefore plot along that straight line, establishing what is called a discordia. If a 1500-million-year-old rock is disturbed to create a discordia, then is undisturbed for another billion years, the whole discordia line will migrate along the curve of the concordia, always pointing to the age of the disturbance.Its clock is not easily disturbed by geologic events—not erosion or consolidation into sedimentary rocks, not even moderate metamorphism.

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