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Recall that uranium (whatever isotope we choose to look at) is radioactive, and it has a long, long half-life.When uranium decays, it produces a daughter product, and this daughter is also radioactive.Helium diffusion in zircon is the movement of helium atoms that have been trapped within a zircon crystal matrix.That may not make sense by itself, so let's take a little trip through some background information to see if it can be made clearer.Additionally, all that alpha decay damages the crystal matrix as alpha decay is a violent event on the atomic scale.In review, what is key here is that uranium can be included in zircon when it forms.

And so it goes until a stable atom of lead appears at the end of the decay chain or decay series.

In case you're wondering, electrons can quite easily "penetrate" the crystal to "convert" the alpha particle into a helium atom.

Anyway, that helium is trapped in there along with all the other elements that make up the crystal matrix.

When rock crystals form, they essentially "trap" the materials of which they are made within the crystal matrix.

The atoms involved are usually trapped by both chemical bonding to other atoms and the physical restrictions of the matrix itself.

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