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The lower limit for application of the method seems to be about ten years, because of practical limits on the accuracy with which we can measure the quantities of the relevant isotopes.
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The rate at which they do so will depend on a number of factors, including: If we take all the relevant factors into account, and calculate, estimate, or simply measure the amount of cosmic rays a given rock is exposed to per year, and if we measure the quantities of the cosmogenic isotopes in a sample of the rock, then we can figure out how long the rock has been exposed.
The quantity of the relevant isotopes in the rock will not simply grow without limit with longer and longer exposure to cosmic rays; rather they will tend towards a maximum (a secular equilibrium): the point at which the cosmogenic cosmogenic production of unstable isotopes is equaled by their destruction by decay.
Where crystals such as zircon with uranium and thorium inclusions do not occur, a better, more inclusive, model of the data must be applied.
Consequently, the practical limit for the use of cosmogenic surface dating seems to be about 10 million years; after that, one old rock looks much like another.
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Fission tracks and micro-cracks within the crystal will further extend this radiation damage network.
These fission tracks inevitably act as conduits deep within the crystal, thereby providing a method of transport to facilitate the leaching of lead isotopes from the zircon crystal.
The dating method is usually performed on the mineral zircon.