How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
Let's suppose that we have geologic periods G Even for the first investigation, there was a possibility of using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the linen from which the shroud was woven. We also have direct observation:. The development of radiocarbon dating has had a profound impact on archaeology. This causes the correlation between K-Ar dates and other dates on meteorites to come into question, as well. The results were summarized in a paper in Science in , in which the authors commented that their results implied it would be possible to date materials containing carbon of organic origin. New techniques using accelerators and highly sensitive mass spectrometers, now in the experimental stage, have pushed these limits back to 70, or 80, years
Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin
The Zurich group first split each ultrasonically cleaned sample in half, with the treatment of the second set of samples being deferred until the radiocarbon measurements on the first set had been completed. In the s samples were tested with AMS, yielding uncalibrated dates ranging from 11, BP to 11, BP, both with a standard error of years. Lava that cools on the surface of the earth is called extrusive. Because the shroud had been exposed to a wide range of potential sources of contamination and because of the uniqueness of the samples available, it was decided to abandon blind-test procedures in the interests of effective sample pretreatment. In addition, this would cause a gradient of Ar40 concentrations in the air, with higher concentrations near the ground. Radioactive decay would generate a concentration of Y proportional to X. It appears that Reynolds does not properly comprehend how radiocarbon calibration curves are constructed.
Measuring the amount of 14 C in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died. The older a sample is, the less 14 C there is to be detected, and because the half-life of 14 C the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed is about 5, years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50, years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.
The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained. Research has been ongoing since the s to determine what the proportion of 14 C in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.
The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.
Other corrections must be made to account for the proportion of 14 C in different types of organisms fractionation , and the varying levels of 14 C throughout the biosphere reservoir effects. Additional complications come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and from the above-ground nuclear tests done in the s and s. Because the time it takes to convert biological materials to fossil fuels is substantially longer than the time it takes for its 14 C to decay below detectable levels, fossil fuels contain almost no 14 C , and as a result there was a noticeable drop in the proportion of 14 C in the atmosphere beginning in the late 19th century.
Conversely, nuclear testing increased the amount of 14 C in the atmosphere, which attained a maximum in of almost twice what it had been before the testing began. Measurement of radiocarbon was originally done by beta-counting devices, which counted the amount of beta radiation emitted by decaying 14 C atoms in a sample.
More recently, accelerator mass spectrometry has become the method of choice; it counts all the 14 C atoms in the sample and not just the few that happen to decay during the measurements; it can therefore be used with much smaller samples as small as individual plant seeds , and gives results much more quickly.
The development of radiocarbon dating has had a profound impact on archaeology. In addition to permitting more accurate dating within archaeological sites than previous methods, it allows comparison of dates of events across great distances.
Histories of archaeology often refer to its impact as the "radiocarbon revolution". Radiocarbon dating has allowed key transitions in prehistory to be dated, such as the end of the last ice age , and the beginning of the Neolithic and Bronze Age in different regions. In , Martin Kamen and Samuel Ruben of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley began experiments to determine if any of the elements common in organic matter had isotopes with half-lives long enough to be of value in biomedical research.
They synthesized 14 C using the laboratory's cyclotron accelerator and soon discovered that the atom's half-life was far longer than had been previously thought. Korff , then employed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia , that the interaction of slow neutrons with 14 N in the upper atmosphere would create 14 C. In , Libby moved to the University of Chicago where he began his work on radiocarbon dating. He published a paper in in which he proposed that the carbon in living matter might include 14 C as well as non-radioactive carbon.
By contrast, methane created from petroleum showed no radiocarbon activity because of its age. The results were summarized in a paper in Science in , in which the authors commented that their results implied it would be possible to date materials containing carbon of organic origin. Libby and James Arnold proceeded to test the radiocarbon dating theory by analyzing samples with known ages. For example, two samples taken from the tombs of two Egyptian kings, Zoser and Sneferu , independently dated to BC plus or minus 75 years, were dated by radiocarbon measurement to an average of BC plus or minus years.
These results were published in Science in In , Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work. In nature, carbon exists as two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: The half-life of 14 C the time it takes for half of a given amount of 14 C to decay is about 5, years, so its concentration in the atmosphere might be expected to reduce over thousands of years, but 14 C is constantly being produced in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere by cosmic rays , which generate neutrons that in turn create 14 C when they strike nitrogen 14 N atoms.
Once produced, the 14 C quickly combines with the oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide CO 2. Carbon dioxide produced in this way diffuses in the atmosphere, is dissolved in the ocean, and is taken up by plants via photosynthesis. Animals eat the plants, and ultimately the radiocarbon is distributed throughout the biosphere. The ratio of 14 C to 12 C is approximately 1. The equation for the radioactive decay of 14 C is: During its life, a plant or animal is exchanging carbon with its surroundings, so the carbon it contains will have the same proportion of 14 C as the atmosphere.
Once it dies, it ceases to acquire 14 C , but the 14 C within its biological material at that time will continue to decay, and so the ratio of 14 C to 12 C in its remains will gradually decrease. The equation governing the decay of a radioactive isotope is: Measurement of N , the number of 14 C atoms currently in the sample, allows the calculation of t , the age of the sample, using the equation above. The above calculations make several assumptions, such as that the level of 14 C in the atmosphere has remained constant over time.
The calculations involve several steps and include an intermediate value called the "radiocarbon age", which is the age in "radiocarbon years" of the sample: Calculating radiocarbon ages also requires the value of the half-life for 14 C , which for more than a decade after Libby's initial work was thought to be 5, years. For consistency with these early papers, and to avoid the risk of a double correction for the incorrect half-life, radiocarbon ages are still calculated using the incorrect half-life value.
A correction for the half-life is incorporated into calibration curves, so even though radiocarbon ages are calculated using a half-life value that is known to be incorrect, the final reported calibrated date, in calendar years, is accurate.
When a date is quoted, the reader should be aware that if it is an uncalibrated date a term used for dates given in radiocarbon years it may differ substantially from the best estimate of the actual calendar date, both because it uses the wrong value for the half-life of 14 C , and because no correction calibration has been applied for the historical variation of 14 C in the atmosphere over time.
Carbon is distributed throughout the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the oceans; these are referred to collectively as the carbon exchange reservoir,  and each component is also referred to individually as a carbon exchange reservoir. The different elements of the carbon exchange reservoir vary in how much carbon they store, and in how long it takes for the 14 C generated by cosmic rays to fully mix with them. This affects the ratio of 14 C to 12 C in the different reservoirs, and hence the radiocarbon ages of samples that originated in each reservoir.
There are several other possible sources of error that need to be considered. The errors are of four general types:. To verify the accuracy of the method, several artefacts that were datable by other techniques were tested; the results of the testing were in reasonable agreement with the true ages of the objects.
Over time, however, discrepancies began to appear between the known chronology for the oldest Egyptian dynasties and the radiocarbon dates of Egyptian artefacts.
The question was resolved by the study of tree rings: Coal and oil began to be burned in large quantities during the 19th century. Dating an object from the early 20th century hence gives an apparent date older than the true date. For the same reason, 14 C concentrations in the neighbourhood of large cities are lower than the atmospheric average.
This fossil fuel effect also known as the Suess effect, after Hans Suess, who first reported it in would only amount to a reduction of 0.
A much larger effect comes from above-ground nuclear testing, which released large numbers of neutrons and created 14 C.
From about until , when atmospheric nuclear testing was banned, it is estimated that several tonnes of 14 C were created. The level has since dropped, as this bomb pulse or "bomb carbon" as it is sometimes called percolates into the rest of the reservoir. Photosynthesis is the primary process by which carbon moves from the atmosphere into living things. In photosynthetic pathways 12 C is absorbed slightly more easily than 13 C , which in turn is more easily absorbed than 14 C.
This effect is known as isotopic fractionation. At higher temperatures, CO 2 has poor solubility in water, which means there is less CO 2 available for the photosynthetic reactions. The enrichment of bone 13 C also implies that excreted material is depleted in 13 C relative to the diet. The carbon exchange between atmospheric CO 2 and carbonate at the ocean surface is also subject to fractionation, with 14 C in the atmosphere more likely than 12 C to dissolve in the ocean.
This increase in 14 C concentration almost exactly cancels out the decrease caused by the upwelling of water containing old, and hence 14 C depleted, carbon from the deep ocean, so that direct measurements of 14 C radiation are similar to measurements for the rest of the biosphere.
Correcting for isotopic fractionation, as is done for all radiocarbon dates to allow comparison between results from different parts of the biosphere, gives an apparent age of about years for ocean surface water. The CO 2 in the atmosphere transfers to the ocean by dissolving in the surface water as carbonate and bicarbonate ions; at the same time the carbonate ions in the water are returning to the air as CO 2.
The deepest parts of the ocean mix very slowly with the surface waters, and the mixing is uneven. The main mechanism that brings deep water to the surface is upwelling, which is more common in regions closer to the equator.
Upwelling is also influenced by factors such as the topography of the local ocean bottom and coastlines, the climate, and wind patterns. Overall, the mixing of deep and surface waters takes far longer than the mixing of atmospheric CO 2 with the surface waters, and as a result water from some deep ocean areas has an apparent radiocarbon age of several thousand years.
Upwelling mixes this "old" water with the surface water, giving the surface water an apparent age of about several hundred years after correcting for fractionation. The northern and southern hemispheres have atmospheric circulation systems that are sufficiently independent of each other that there is a noticeable time lag in mixing between the two. This is probably because the greater surface area of ocean in the southern hemisphere means that there is more carbon exchanged between the ocean and the atmosphere than in the north.
Since the surface ocean is depleted in 14 C because of the marine effect, 14 C is removed from the southern atmosphere more quickly than in the north. For example, rivers that pass over limestone , which is mostly composed of calcium carbonate , will acquire carbonate ions.
Similarly, groundwater can contain carbon derived from the rocks through which it has passed. Volcanic eruptions eject large amounts of carbon into the air. Dormant volcanoes can also emit aged carbon. If the dates for Akrotiri are confirmed, it would indicate that the volcanic effect in this case was minimal. Any addition of carbon to a sample of a different age will cause the measured date to be inaccurate. Contamination with modern carbon causes a sample to appear to be younger than it really is: Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the 14 C content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.
Before this can be done, the sample must be treated to remove any contamination and any unwanted constituents. Particularly for older samples, it may be useful to enrich the amount of 14 C in the sample before testing. This can be done with a thermal diffusion column. Once contamination has been removed, samples must be converted to a form suitable for the measuring technology to be used.
For accelerator mass spectrometry , solid graphite targets are the most common, although iron carbide and gaseous CO 2 can also be used.
The quantity of material needed for testing depends on the sample type and the technology being used. There are two types of testing technology: For beta counters, a sample weighing at least 10 grams 0. For decades after Libby performed the first radiocarbon dating experiments, the only way to measure the 14 C in a sample was to detect the radioactive decay of individual carbon atoms. Libby's first detector was a Geiger counter of his own design.
He converted the carbon in his sample to lamp black soot and coated the inner surface of a cylinder with it. This cylinder was inserted into the counter in such a way that the counting wire was inside the sample cylinder, in order that there should be no material between the sample and the wire. Libby's method was soon superseded by gas proportional counters , which were less affected by bomb carbon the additional 14 C created by nuclear weapons testing.
These counters record bursts of ionization caused by the beta particles emitted by the decaying 14 C atoms; the bursts are proportional to the energy of the particle, so other sources of ionization, such as background radiation, can be identified and ignored. The counters are surrounded by lead or steel shielding, to eliminate background radiation and to reduce the incidence of cosmic rays. In addition, anticoincidence detectors are used; these record events outside the counter, and any event recorded simultaneously both inside and outside the counter is regarded as an extraneous event and ignored.
The other common technology used for measuring 14 C activity is liquid scintillation counting, which was invented in , but which had to wait until the early s, when efficient methods of benzene synthesis were developed, to become competitive with gas counting; after liquid counters became the more common technology choice for newly constructed dating laboratories.
The counters work by detecting flashes of light caused by the beta particles emitted by 14 C as they interact with a fluorescing agent added to the benzene. Like gas counters, liquid scintillation counters require shielding and anticoincidence counters. For both the gas proportional counter and liquid scintillation counter, what is measured is the number of beta particles detected in a given time period.
This provides a value for the background radiation, which must be subtracted from the measured activity of the sample being dated to get the activity attributable solely to that sample's 14 C. In addition, a sample with a standard activity is measured, to provide a baseline for comparison. The ions are accelerated and passed through a stripper, which removes several electrons so that the ions emerge with a positive charge.
A particle detector then records the number of ions detected in the 14 C stream, but since the volume of 12 C and 13 C , needed for calibration is too great for individual ion detection, counts are determined by measuring the electric current created in a Faraday cup. Any 14 C signal from the machine background blank is likely to be caused either by beams of ions that have not followed the expected path inside the detector, or by carbon hydrides such as 12 CH 2 or 13 CH.
A 14 C signal from the process blank measures the amount of contamination introduced during the preparation of the sample. These measurements are used in the subsequent calculation of the age of the sample.
The calculations to be performed on the measurements taken depend on the technology used, since beta counters measure the sample's radioactivity whereas AMS determines the ratio of the three different carbon isotopes in the sample.
To determine the age of a sample whose activity has been measured by beta counting, the ratio of its activity to the activity of the standard must be found. To determine this, a blank sample of old, or dead, carbon is measured, and a sample of known activity is measured.
The additional samples allow errors such as background radiation and systematic errors in the laboratory setup to be detected and corrected for. The results from AMS testing are in the form of ratios of 12 C , 13 C , and 14 C , which are used to calculate Fm, the "fraction modern".
Both beta counting and AMS results have to be corrected for fractionation. Unfortunately, Dalrymple says nothing about the calculation of the branching ratio. He simply gives the correct value for the K-Ar system.
The issue is not just how well this was known in the past, but which value was actually used, and whether dates published in the past have been computed with the most recent value. Often values for constants are standardized, so that the values actually used may not be the most accurate known. All that Dalrymple says is that his ages were all recomputed using the most accurate values of the constants. This implies that some of them were originally computed using less accurate values, which is similar to Slusher's point.
He admits that Slusher's statements about it would have been true in the 's and early 's, but are no longer true. But he didn't say when the correct value for the branching ratio began to be used. Even some figures from Faure, Principles of Isotope Geology, are based on another constant that is 2 or 3 percent too low, according to Dalrymple, and so there may be many ages in the literature that need revision by small amounts.
However, Harland et al imply that nearly the correct value for the branching ratio has been known and used since the mid-fifties. We now consider whether they can explain the observed dates.
In general, the dates that are obtained by radiometric methods are in the hundreds of millions of years range. One can understand this by the fact that the clock did not get reset if one accepts the fact that the magma "looks" old, for whatever reason. That is, we can get both parent and daughter elements from the magma inherited into minerals that crystallize out of lava, making these minerals look old. Since the magma has old radiometric dates, depending on how much the clock gets reset, the crust can end up with a variety of younger dates just by partially inheriting the dates of the magma.
Thus any method based on simple parent to daughter ratios such as Rb-Sr dating is bound to be unreliable, since there would have to be a lot of the daughter product in the magma already. And Harold Coffin's book Creation by Design lists a study showing that Rb-Sr dates are often inherited from the magma. Even the initial ratios of parent and daughter elements in the earth do not necessarily indicate an age as old as 4.
Radioactive decay would be faster in the bodies of stars, which is where scientists assume the heavy elements formed. Imagine a uranium nucleus forming by the fusion of smaller nucleii. At the moment of formation, as two nucleii collide, the uranium nucleus will be somewhat unstable, and thus very likely to decay into its daughter element. The same applies to all nucleii, implying that one could get the appearance of age quickly.
Of course, the thermonuclear reactions in the star would also speed up radioactive decay. But isochrons might be able to account for pre-existing daughter elements. Furthermore, some elements in the earth are too abundant to be explained by radioactive decay in 4. Some are too scarce such as helium.
So it's not clear to me how one can be sure of the 4. Why older dates would be found lower in the geologic column especially for K-Ar dating In general, potassium-argon dates appear to be older the deeper one goes in the crust of the earth.
We now consider possible explanations for this. There are at least a couple of mechanisms to account for this. In volcano eruptions, a considerable amount of gas is released with the lava.
This gas undoubtedly contains a significant amount of argon Volcanos typically have magma chambers under them, from which the eruptions occur. It seems reasonable that gas would collect at the top of these chambers, causing artificially high K-Ar radiometric ages there.
In addition, with each successive eruption, some gas would escape, reducing the pressure of the gas and reducing the apparent K-Ar radiometric age. Thus the decreasing K-Ar ages would represent the passage of time, but not necessarily related to their absolute radiometric ages. As a result, lava found in deeper layers, having erupted earlier, would generally appear much older and lava found in higher layers, having erupted later, would appear much younger.
This could account for the observed distribution of potassium-argon dates, even if the great sedimantary layers were laid down very recently. In addition, lava emerging later will tend to be hotter, coming from deeper in the earth and through channels that have already been warmed up.
This lava will take longer to cool down, giving more opportunity for enclosed argon to escape and leading to younger radiometric ages. Another factor is that rocks absorb argon from the air. It is true that this can be accounted for by the fact that argon in the air has Ar36 and Ar40, whereas only Ar40 is produced by K-Ar decay.
But for rocks deep in the earth, the mixture of argon in their environment is probably much higher in Ar40, since only Ar40 is produced by radioactive decay. As these rocks absorb argon, their radiometric ages would increase. This would probably have a larger effect lower down, where the pressure of argon would be higher. Or it could be that such a distribution of argon pressures in the rocks occurred at some time in the past. This would also make deeper rocks tend to have older radiometric ages.
Recent lava flows often yield K-Ar ages of about , years. This shows that they contain some excess argon, and not all of it is escaping. If they contained a hundred times more excess argon, their K-Ar ages would be a hundred times greater, I suppose. And faster cooling could increase the ages by further large factors. I also read of a case where a rock was K-Ar dated at 50 million years, and still susceptible to absorbing argon from the air. This shows that one might get radiometric ages of at least 50 million years in this way by absorbing Ar40 deep in the earth without much Ar36 or Ar38 present.
If the pressure of Ar40 were greater, one could obtain even greater ages. Yet another mechanism that can lead to decreasing K-Ar ages with time is the following, in a flood model: One can assume that at the beginning of the flood, many volcanoes erupted and the waters became enriched in Ar Then any lava under water would appear older because its enclosed Ar40 would have more trouble escaping.
As time passed, this Ar40 would gradually pass into the atmosphere, reducing this effect and making rocks appear younger. In addition, this would cause a gradient of Ar40 concentrations in the air, with higher concentrations near the ground. This also could make flows on the land appear older than they are, since their Ar40 would also have a harder time escaping. Plaisted wants to give his readers the impression that argon can readily move in and out of minerals and, therefore, the gas is too volatile for radiometric dating.
Specifically, he quotes one of his anonymous friends that claims that argon easily diffuses from minerals p. Of course, these statements are inaccurate generalizations.
Geochronologists are aware that excess argon may accumulate on mineral surfaces and the surface argon would be removed before analysis. However, Henke admits that this can happen in some cases. He states that geologists are aware of this problem, and make allowances for it. But it is more difficult to remove argon that has deposited on cracks in the mineral, which can be difficult to see. Henke referenced Davis A.
Young frequently, but I was not able to find Young referenced in any of the other sources I examined except Dalrymple Henke states that hornblendes retain argon very well, but then later says that they can easily absorb excess argon.
Geologists also recognize that heating causes argon to leave minerals, and that dissolved argon in a mineral that does not escape will become incorporated into it, artificially increasing its K-Ar age. I will comment more on this below, but a few comments now are appropriate. For a temperature of K 27 degrees C , there is no significant argon loss from biotite. At K degrees C , there is a slow but significant diffusion rate.
At K degrees C , loss of argon is quite rapid. To lose one percent in one year requires a temperature of nearly degrees centigrade. Thus the temperature does not have to be very high for argon to move through rock. This also justifies Slusher's statements about argon moving in and out of rocks with ease. However, it does not seem likely that sedimentary rocks would be this hot very often, except near lava or magma flows. But argon does not need to move through all rock in order to influence radiometric dates, it only has to reach ancient lava flows.
This it can do by following the path of the ancient lava flow itself, coming up along the path of the magma. As the magma or lava cools, this path will consist entirely of hot magma or lava, and so the argon will have a free path, and will continue to enter the magma as it cools.
Thus in many cases, the lava or magma will never completely degas, and extra argon will end up trapped in the cooled rock. This will result in artificially increased K-Ar ages. Many ancient lava flows are relatively flat, in contrast to modern ones. Also, they appear to have been covered over quickly. The flatness means that the lava is a contiguous mass, and can still be reached from the hot magma by a continuous path of hot rock. The fact that they soon are covered over means that the argon has a hard time escaping vertically from the lava, so argon coming up from the mantle will tend to enter the cooling rock.
Both facts will tend to produce artificially high K-Ar ages in these flows which will not be seen in modern lava flows in the same manner. Modern lava flows often come down the sides of volcanoes, and thus become separated from their source by large distances.
Also, they do not get quickly buried by additional sediment. Thus modern lava flows are not subject to the same mechanism of artificial increases in their K-Ar ages as are ancient ones.
Also, it is reasonable to assume that as argon leaves the mantle in successive eruptions, the amount of argon remaining is reduced, so that later lava flows are less susceptible to such artificial increases in age. The path of magma also becomes longer for later flows, and the magma probably also is a little cooler, inhibiting argon flow.
Thus later lava flows give younger K-Ar ages. Another point to note is that even after it cools, the lava or magma may still have many cracks in it, permitting argon to flow. This argon will tend to deposit on the surface of minerals, but with the passage of time it will tend to diffuse into the interior, even if only a very small distance. This is especially true as the lava is cooling.
This will make it more difficult to detect this added argon by the spectrum test described below. Also, the diffusion of argon in cracks and channels of a mineral is likely much less temperature-dependent than diffusion through unbroken regions of the mineral, since diffusion through cracks and channels simply involves jumps through the air.
By a combination of diffusion through cracks and channels, and short passages through unbroken regions of the mineral, argon may be able to reach a considerable distance into the mineral.
At low temperatures, this may become the dominant means by which argon diffuses into a mineral, but the effect of this kind of diffusion at low temperatures may not be evident until many years have passed. Thus it may take experiments lasting 50 or years at low temperatures to detect the effects of this kind of diffusion of argon, which however could be significantly increasing the K-Ar ages of minerals over long time periods.
Dickin Radiogenic Isotope Geology, , p. It has been claimed that this can be accomplished by preheating samples under vacuum or by leaching them briefly with hydroflouric acid, or both However Armstrong has questioned whether atmospheric argon, that has been acquired by minerals over a long interval of time, can be removed by this method. Thus there is some means by which argon from outside can become very firmly embedded within a rock, and one would expect that the quantity of this argon would continue to increase over time, giving anomalously old K-Ar ages.
Added atmospheric argon can be detected, because the ratio of argon 40 to argon 36 for atmospheric argon is But argon 40 coming up from the mantle and diffusing into a mineral would not be detectable in this way, because it has a higher ratio of argon 40 to argon This shows that rocks can adsorb a large amount of argon relative to the argon needed to give them old K-Ar ages, and also suggests that old K-Ar ages can be produced by external argon from the mantle.
Over a long period of time, adsorbed argon will tend to diffuse into the rock, and thus it will be possible for even more argon to be deposited on the surface, increasing K-Ar ages even more. Generally, excess 40Ar is observed in minerals that have been exposed to a high partial pressure of argon during regional metamorphism, in pegmatites The argon that may either diffuse into the minerals or may be occluded within them is derived by outgassing of K-bearing minerals in the crust and mantle of the Earth.
The presence of excess 40Ar increases K-Ar dates and may lead to overestimates of the ages of minerals dated by this method. Let us consider the question of how much different dating methods agree on the geologic column, and how many measurements are anomalous, since these points are often mentioned as evidences of the reliability of radiometric dating.
It takes a long time to penetrate the confusion and find out what is the hard evidence in this area. In the first place, I am not primarily concerned with dating meteorites, or precambrian rocks.
What I am more interested in is the fossil-bearing geologic column of Cambrian and later age. Now, several factors need to be considered when evaluating how often methods give expected ages on the geologic column.
Some of these are taken from John Woodmoreappe's article on the subject, but only when I have reason to believe the statements are also generally believed. First, many igneous formations span many periods, and so have little constraint on what period they could belong to.
The same applies to intrusions. In addition, some kinds of rocks are not considered as suitable for radiometric dating, so these are typically not considered. Furthermore, it is at least possible that anomalies are under-reported in the literature.
Finally, the overwhelming majority of measurements on the fossil bearing geologic column are all done using one method, the K-Ar method. And let me recall that both potassium and argon are water soluble, and argon is mobile in rock. Thus the agreement found between many dates does not necessarily reflect an agreement between different methods, but rather the agreement of the K-Ar method with itself.
For example, if 80 percent of the measurements were done using K-Ar dating, and the other 20 percent gave random results, we still might be able to say that most of the measurements on a given strata agree with one another reasonably well. So to me it seems quite conceivable that there is no correlation at all between the results of different methods on the geologic column, and that they have a purely random relationship to each other.
Let us consider again the claim that radiometric dates for a given geologic period agree with each other. I would like to know what is the exact or approximate information content of this assertion, and whether it could be or has been tested statistically.
It's not as easy as it might sound. Let's suppose that we have geologic periods G Let's only include rocks whose membership in the geologic period can be discerned independent of radiometric dating methods. Let's also only include rocks which are considered datable by at least one method, since some rocks I believe limestone are considered not to hold argon, for example. Now, we can take a random rock from Gi. We will have to restrict ourselves to places where Gi is exposed, to avoid having to dig deep within the earth.
Let's apply all known dating methods to Gi that are thought to apply to this kind of rock, and obtain ages from each one. Then we can average them to get an average age for this rock. We can also compute how much they differ from one another. Now we have to be careful about lava flows -- which geologic period do they belong to?
What about rocks that are thought not to have their clock reset, or to have undergone later heating episodes?
Just to make the test unbiased, we will assign altitude limits to each geologic period at each point on the earth's surface at least in principle and include all rocks within these altitude limits within Gi, subject to the condition that they are datable. For each geologic period and each dating method, we will get a distribution of values.
We will also get a distribution of averaged values for samples in each period. Now, some claim is being made about these distributions. It is undoubtedly being claimed that the mean values ascend as one goes up the geologic column. It is also being claimed that the standard deviations are not too large. It is also being claimed that the different methods have distributions that are similar to one another on a given geologic period. The only correlation I know about that has been studied is between K-Ar and Rb-Sr dating on precambrian rock.
And even for this one, the results were not very good. This was a reference by Hurley and Rand, cited in Woodmorappe's paper. As far as I know, no study has been done to determine how different methods correlate on the geologic column excluding precambrian rock. The reason for my request is that a correlation is not implied by the fact that there are only 10 percent anomalies, or whatever.
I showed that the fact that the great majority of dates come from one method K-Ar and the fact that many igneous bodies have very wide biostratigraphic limits, where many dates are acceptable, makes the percentage of anomalies irrelevant to the question I am asking. And since this agreement is the strongest argument for the reliability of radiometric dating, such an assumption of agreement appears to be without support so far.
The question of whether different methods correlate on the geologic column is not an easy one to answer for additional reasons. Since the bulk of K-Ar dates are generally accepted as correct, one may say that certain minerals are reliable if they tend to give similar dates, and unreliable otherwise. We can also say that certain formations tend to give reliable dates and others do not, depending on whether the dates agree with K-Ar dates.
Thus we can get an apparent correlation of different methods without much of a real correlation in nature. It's also possible for other matter to be incorporated into lava as it rises, without being thoroughly melted, and this matter may inherit all of its old correlated radiometric dates. Coffin mentions that fission tracks can survive transport through lava, for example.
It may also be that lava is produced by melting the bottom of continents and successively different layers are melted with time, or there could be a tendency for lighter isotopes to come to the top of magma chambers, making the lava there appear older.
But anyway, I think it is important really to know what patterns appear in the data to try to understand if there is a correlation and what could be causing it. Not knowing if anomalies are always published makes this harder. It is often mentioned that different methods agree on the K-T boundary, dated at about 65 million years ago. This is when the dinosaurs are assumed to have become extinct.
This agreement of different methods is taken as evidence for a correlation between methods on the geologic column. One study found some correlated dates from bentonite that are used to estimate the date of the K-T boundary.
I looked up some information on bentonite. It is composed of little glass beads that come from volcanic ash. This is formed when lava is sticky and bubbles of gas in it explode. So these small particles of lava cool very fast. The rapid cooling might mean that any enclosed argon is retained, but if not, the fact that this cooling occurs near the volcano, with a lot of argon coming out, should guarantee that these beads would have excess argon.
As the gas bubble explodes, its enclosed argon will be rushing outward along with these tiny bubbles as they cool. This will cause them to retain argon and appear too old. In addition, the rapid cooling and the process of formation means that these beads would have Rb, Sr, U, and Pb concentrations the same as the lava they came from, since there is no chance for crystals to form with such rapid cooling. So to assume that the K-Ar dates, Rb-Sr dates, and U-Pb dates all reflect the age of the lava, one would have to assume that this lava had no Sr, no Pb, and that all the argon escaped when the beads formed.
Since the magma generally has old radiometric ages, I don't see how we could have magma without Pb or Sr. So to me it seems to be certain that these ages must be in error.
Furthermore, the question arises whether bentonite always gives correlated ages, and whether these ages always agree with the accepted ages for their geologic period. I believe that bentonite occurs in a number of formations of different geologic periods, so this could be checked.
If bentonite does not always give correlate and correct ages, this calls into question its use for dating the K-T boundary. Let me briefly comment on a couple of other articles at Tim Thompson's page. This is at least close to what I am looking for. However, it would be better to date all five craters by all four different methods, and see what the agreement is.
It is also possible that each crater gives a scatter of dates, and the best ones were selected. Furthermore, it is possible that the craters were chosen as those for which the dating methods agreed. Possible other sources of correlation Note that if there are small pockets in crystals where both parent and daughter product can accumulate from the lava, then one can inherit correlated ages from the lava into minerals.
Thus even the existence of correlations is not conclusive evidence that a date is correct. Anomalies of radiometric dating If a date does not agree with the expected age of its geologic period, and no plausible explanation can be found, then the date is called anomalous.
But if we really understand what is going on, then we should be able to detect discrepant dates as they are being measured, and not just due to their divergence from other dates. Geologists often say that the percentage of anomalies is low. But there are quite a number of rather outstanding anomalies in radiometric dating that creationists have collected. These anomalies are reported in the scientific literature. For example, one isochron yielded a date of 10 billion years.
A Rb-Sr isochron yielded a date of 34 billion years. K-Ar dates of 7 to 15 billion years have been recorded. It's also not uncommon for two methods to agree and for the date to be discarded anyway.
Samples with flat plateaus which should mean no added argon can give wrong dates. Samples giving no evidence of being disturbed can give wrong dates.
Samples that give evidence of being disturbed can give correct dates. The number of dates that disagree with the expected ages is not insignificant. I don't know what the exact percentage is. Many dates give values near the accepted ones. But even these often differ from one another by 10 or 20 percent. And quite a few other dates are often much, much farther off.
Whatever is making some of these dates inaccurate could be making all of them inaccurate. Age estimates on a given geological stratum by different radiometric methods are often quite different sometimes by hundreds of millions of years.
There is not absolutely reliable long-term radiological "clock". The uncertainties inherent in radiometric dating are disturbing to geologists and evolutionists As proof of the unreliability of the radiometric methods consider the fact that in nearly every case dates from recent lava flows have come back excessively large. One example is the rocks from the Kaupelehu Flow, Hualalai Volcano in Hawaii which was known to have erupted in These rocks were dated by a variety of different methods.
Of 12 dates reported the youngest was million years and the oldest was 2. The dates average 1. Another source said that about 5 or 6 of the historic lava flows give ages in the hundreds of thousands of years. Geologists explain the Kaupelehu date by the lava being cooled rapidly in deep ocean water and not being able to get rid of its enclosed argon. Instead, the uncertainty grows as more and more data is accumulated Woodmorappe also mentions that very self-contradictory age spreads in the Precambrian era are common.
In addition, Woodmorappe gives over sets of dates "that are in gross conflict with one another and with expected values for their indicated paleontological positions. This does not include dates from minerals that are thought to yield bad dates, or from igneous bodies with wide biostrategraphic ranges, where many dates are acceptable. He states that the number of dates within range are less than the number of anomalies, except for the Cenozoic and Cretaceous.
When one adds in the fact that many anomalies are unreported, which he gives evidence for, the true distribution is anyone's guess. There have been criticisms of John Woodmorappe's study, but no one has given any figures from the literature for the true percentage of anomalies, with a definition of an anomaly, or the degree of correlation between methods. Steven Schimmrich's review of this study often concerns itself with John W's presentation of geologists explanation for anomalies, and not with the percentage of anomalies; the later is my main concern.
The carbon age of the buried trees is only years, but some of the overlying volcanic material has a ,year potassium-argon age. A similar situation is reported in the December issue of Creation ex nihilo in which lava with a K-Ar age of about 45 million years overlays wood that was carbon dated by 3 laboratories using AMS dating to about 35, years.
Still another evidence for problems with radiometric dating was given in a recent talk I attended by a man who had been an evolutionist and taken a course in radiometric dating. The teacher gave 14 assumptions of radiometric dating and said something like "If creationists got a hold of these, they could cut radiometric dating to pieces.
Another evidence that all is not well with radiometric dating is given in the following quote from Coffin p. Many sedimentary uranium ores are not. Since equilibrium should be reached in 1 million years, this is a problem for sediments that are assumed to be older than 1 million years. On another point, if we can detect minerals that were not molten with the lava, as has been claimed, then this is one more reason why there should be no anomalies, and radiometric dating should be a completely solved problem.
But that does not appear to be the case, at least especially on the geologic column. I'm not claiming that anomalous results are being hidden, just that the agreement of a mass of results, none of which has much claim to reliability, does not necessarily mean much.
Picking out a few cases where radiometric dates appear to be well-behaved reminds me of evolutionary biologists focusing on a few cases where there may be transitional sequences. It does not answer the overall question. And as I said above, I'm also interested to know how much of the fossil-bearing geologic column can be dated by isochrons, and how the dates so obtained compare to others.
Gerling et al called attention to some chlorites yielding K-Ar dates of 7 to 15 b. It had been noted that some minerals which yield such dates as beryl, cordierite, etc. They also pointed out that for the anomalies to be accounted for by excess argon, unreasonably high partial pressures of Ar during crystallization would have to be required.
They concluded by suggesting some unknown nuclear process which no longer operates to have generated the Ar. This implies that excess argon is coming from somewhere. Here is another quote from Woodmorappe about isochrons, since some people think that mixing scenarios or other age-altering scenarios are unlikely:. If this condition does not hold, invalid ages and intercepts are obtained. Models yield isochron ages that are too high, too low, or in the future, sometimes by orders of magnitude.
The fact that the only "valid" K-Ar isochrons are those for which the concentration of non-radiogenic argon Ar36 is constant, seems very unusual. This suggests that what is occuring is some kind of a mixing phenomenon, and not an isochron reflecting a true age. We have analyzed several devitrified glasses of known age, and all have yielded ages that are too young.
Some gave virtually zero ages, although the geologic evidence suggested that devitrification took place shortly after the formation of a deposit. Why a low anomaly percentage is meaningless One of the main arguments in favor of radiometric dating is that so many dates agree with each other, that is, with the date expected for their geologic period. But it's not evident how much support this gives to radiometric dating. If a rock dates too old, one can say that the clock did not get reset.
If it dates too young, one can invoke a later heating event. Neither date would necessarily be seen as anomalous. If lava intrudes upon geologic period X, then any date for the lava of X or later will not be seen as anomalous. And even if the date is one or two geologic periods earlier, it may well be close enough to be accepted as non-spurious. If one does not know the geologic period of a rock by other means, then of course one is likely to date it to find out, and then of course the date agrees with the geologic period and this will not be seen as anomalous.
So it is difficult to know what would be a reasonable test for whether radiometric dating is reliable or not. The percentage of published dates that are considered as anomalous has little bearing on the question. The biostrategraphic limits issue The issue about igneous bodies may need additional clarification.
If a lava flow lies above geologic period A and below B, then allowable ages are anything at least as large as A and no larger than B. This is called the biostratigraphic limit of the flow. Now, according to Woodmorappe's citations, many lava flows have no such limits at all, and most of them have large limits. For example, a flow lying on precambrian rock with nothing on top would have no limits on its dates. And such flows often have a large internal scatter of dates, but these dates are not considered as anomalies because of the unrestricted biostratigraphic limit.
Other flows with wide biostratigraphic limits have weak restrictions on allowable dates. This is one reason why just reporting the percentage of anomalies has little meaning. Thus these ages, though they generally have a considerable scatter, are not considered as anomalies. He cites another reference that most igneous bodies have wide biostrategraphic limits. Thus just by chance, many dates will be considered within the acceptable ranges. Again, the percentage of anomalies means nothing for the reliability of radiometric dating.
Now, igneous bodies can be of two types, extrusive and intrusive. Extrusive bodies are lava that is deposited on the surface. These cool quickly and have small crystals and form basalt. Intrusive bodies are deposited in the spaces between other rocks. These cool more slowly and have larger crystals, often forming granite.
Both of these tend on the average to have wide biostrategraphic limits, meaning that a large spread of ages will be regarded as non-anomalous. And if we recall that most radiometric dating is done of igneous bodies, one sees that the percentage of anomalies is meaningless. Thus we really need some evidence that the different methods agree with each other.
To make the case even stronger, "Many discrepant results from intrusives are rationalized away immediately by accepting the dates but reinterpreting the biostrategraphic bracket," according to John Woodmorappe. This of course means that the result is no longer anomalous, because the geologic period has been modified to fit the date.
Finally, the fact that the great majority of dates are from one method means that the general but not universal agreement of K-Ar dating with itself is sufficient to explain the small percentange of anomalies if it is small.
Preponderance of K-Ar dating Now, the point about agreement is that whatever figure is given about how often ages agree with the expected age, is consistent with the fact that there is no agreement at all between K-Ar and other methods, since so many measurements are done using K-Ar dating.
And one of the strongest arguments for the validity of radiometric dating is that the methods agree. So when one combines all of the above figures, the statement that there are only 10 percent anomalies or 5 percent or whatever, does not have any meaning any more.
This statement is made so often as evidence for the reliability of radiometric dating, that the simple evidence that it has no meaning, is astounding to me. I don't object to having some hard evidence that there are real agreements between different methods on the geologic column, if someone can provide it.
The precambrian rock is less interesting because it could have a radiometric age older than life, but this is less likely for the rest of the geologic column.
It's not surprising that K-Ar dates often agree with the assumed dates of their geological periods, since the dates of the geological periods were largely inferred from K-Ar dating. By the way, Ar-Ar dating and K-Ar dating are essentially the same method, so between the two of them we obtain a large fraction of the dates being used. Before the discovery of radioactivity in the late nineteenth century, a geological time scale had been developed on the basis of estimates for the rates of geological processes such as erosion and sedimentation, with the assumption that these rates had always been essentially uniform.
On the basis of being unacceptably old, many geologists of the time rejected these early twentieth century determinations of rock age from the ratio of daughter to radioactive parent large. By , increased confidence in radioisotope dating techniques and the demands of evolution theory for vast amounts of time led to the establishment of an expanded geological time scale. The construction of this time scale was based on about radioisotope ages that were selected because of their agreement with the presumed fossil and geological sequences found in the rocks.
Igneous rocks are particularly suited to K-Ar dating. The crucial determiners are therefore volcanic extrusive igneous rocks that are interbedded with sediments, and intrusive igneous rocks that penetrate sediments. This verifies what I said about almost all of the dates used to define correct ages for geologic periods being K-Ar dates. Also, the uncertainty in the branching ratio of potassium decay might mean that there is a fudge factor in K-Ar ages of up to a third, and that the occasional agreements between K-Ar ages and other ages are open to question.
So the point is that there is now no reason to believe that radiometric dating is valid on the geologic column. I mentioned the presence of excess argon 40 in a sample as a problem leading to artificially old K-Ar dates. Henke states in a reply to me, concerning the problem of detecting excess argon,.
It is possible that such isochrons are not often done. One cannot always use an isochron, since many minerals may have about the same K and Ar40 concentrations, and there may be some fractionation of argon among the minerals. It's not clear to me if this three dimensional plot always works, and how often it is used. I was not able to find any mention of it in Faure or Dickin It is true that by using additional isotopes if they are sufficiently abundant and do not fractionate , one can often detect mixings of multiple sources.
My point was that the usual mixing test can only detect two sources. But since these multiple mixing tests are more difficult and expensive, they may not be done very often. One also has to know which isotopes to examine.
I was suprised that Dalrymple said nothing about mixings invalidating isochrons. Dalrymple goes to great lengths to explain this away, but I think this figure is very telling, and find his explanations unconvincing. It is also remarkable that we have a test for mixing, which is commonly cited in support of the accuracy of radiometric dating, but when it gives contrary results, it is simply ignored. It is a fundamental assumption of the mantle isochron model that neither isotope nor elemental ratios are perturbed during magma ascent through the crust.
However, it is now generally accepted that this assumption is not upheld with sufficient reliability to attribute age significance to erupted isochrons. Dickin suggests that mixings may contribute to such isochrons. It seems reasonable, then, that mixings may be affecting all Rb-Sr isochrons in igneous rock. Your hypothetical example in "More Bad News for Radiometric Dating" is often hard to follow, but it is clearly invalid. This example is given to show that a mixing of three sources cannot be detected by the usual two sources test.
It is not intended to be natural, but to demonstrate a mathematical fact. There is a lot of flexibility in the design of such examples, as I indicate, and it is reasonable to assume that some of these examples would be natural. It's the responsibility of the geologist to show that such mixings have not occurred. To really understand what's going on you have to sample the recent works of many different authors. You have to follow arguments between experts on different issues and see where they go.
Overall, the geologic time scale is in great shape. Yes, scientists are still making minor adjustments. However, it's clear from Strahler , Dalrymple , etc. The problem with this approach is that it leaves ample room for the exercise of subjective judgment and evolutionary assumptions. Also, Dalrymple says essentially nothing about the phanerozoic, and thus gives little evidence of the accuracy of the conventional dating scheme on fossil-bearing rocks.
I treated this issue of percentage of anomalies in considerable detail in my original "Radiometric Dating Game" article.
It is interesting that Woodmorappe gives a number of cases in which standard geological tests are ignored. For example, dates may be accepted even when there is evidence of weathering, and rejected when there is not. There may be evidence of heating, but the date may be accepted, and there may be no such evidence, but a hypothetical heating event is assumed anyway. If geological tests are not being applied consistently, one wonders what value they have. Let me clarify the problem with excess argon.
It gives the diffusion equation for argon escaping from a rock as it cools. The rate of diffusion is proportional to the gradient of argon concentration, and increases rapidly with temperature.
Suppose the partial pressure of argon 40 in the environment is p. Suppose the partial pressure of argon 40 in lava or magma is initially at least p, as it cools. Then the partial pressure of argon 40 in the magma will never decrease below p; excess argon 40 will remain dissolved in the lava or magma as it cools.
This argon 40 will then be trapped within the resulting rocks and lead to artificially old K-Ar dates. Now, the problem with this is that this excess argon 40 will probably be deposited as single atoms of argon distributed evenly within the sample.
This makes it very difficult or even theoretically impossible to distinguish this excess argon 40 from argon generated by radioactive decay. This will make the sample appear artificially old right away. Even if crystals exclude argon as they form, argon will rapidly diffuse into them as the lava cools, by the diffusion equation mentioned above.
A similar problem can occur if the excess argon 40 dissolved within lava or magma is not able to escape, due to rapid cooling or subsequent deposits of sediment or other lava on top. It is possible that in some cases an isochron might be able to detect such initial argon 40, but this can only happen if the potassium concentration varies significantly within the sample.
It is not clear to me, also, how often such a test for initial argon 40 is performed. And of course, such isochrons can be falsified by mixings or other problems. There are spectrum tests for adsorbed argon involving Ar-Ar dating; basically, one can see whether the argon 40 is concentrated near the surface of the sample or near the interior. The former would indicated adsorbed argon 40, which would not give a true age.
However, this test would not indicate excess argon 40 present during cooling. It seems reasonable to me that this is a uniform problem with K-Ar dating. To me the geological evidence suggests catastrophic conditions and rapid formation of the sedimentary layers in the past.
Thus the lava might have been covered before the excess argon was able to escape. Or the lava might have cooled quickly, due to rainfall. It only needs to cool to about degrees centigrade or less to trap most of the argon, at least for biotite. As I mentioned before, one sometimes finds significant argon 40 in a rock and no potassium at all, as mentioned in Snelling's article. This shows that excess argon is entering these rocks by some means, and calls K-Ar dating into question. Excess argon could even cause different minerals in a given formation to yield similar K-Ar ages, since they all might have similar concentrations of K, approximately equal to its abundance in the earth's crust, and similar concentrations of argon 40, due to the partial pressure of argon 40 being similar during cooling.
Even sedimentary minerals might have a similar K-Ar age for the same reason. Also, lava magma that cooled within the earth is likely to have artificially old K-Ar ages, since the enclosed excess argon 40 might have a more difficult time escaping. One sedimentary mineral of particular importance for K-Ar dating is glaucony.
The following message from a talk. For example, Plaisted's "explanation" for the correlation of isotopic age with vertical position in the geologic column is essentially that excess argon would have existed in lavas in greater quantity early in the Flood, and decreased as it was outgassed over time.
Had Plaisted actually bothered to look at the data e. Glaucony did not come from a "magma chamber," so Plaisted's explanation cannot possibly cover the majority of ages on the younger parts of the column. Of the or so "anomalous" dates in Woodmorappe , 94 Woodmorappe is clearly misusing illite and glauconite dates to simply pad his list. The fact that glauconies are unreliable is significant, since they provide such a large part of the dates for the mesozoic-cenozoic parts of the geological column.
Glauconies are formed in seawater from a variety of materials, and incorporate potassium from the seawater Faure, , p. The process of their formation gives a ready mechanism for their K-Ar ages, namely, the incorporation of argon 40 as well as potassium from the seawater.
We can assume that as a result of a global catastrophe, the oceans were highly enriched in argon 40 in the past, and that the concentration of argon 40 gradually decreased over time, due to its diffusion into the atmosphere and due to a smaller amount being released into the seawater.
Therefore older glauconies would absorb more argon 40 from the seawater, resulting in old K-Ar dates for lower strata which become progressively younger for higher strata. Another factor in this direction is that older glauconies have more time to absorb argon Some minerals contain argon 40 but no potassium, so this indicates excess argon 40, which in the presence of potassium leads to artificially old dates. Many historical volcanoes give K-Ar dates that are much too old, even if the reasons for this are understood.
Finally, I want to comment on the circumstances of the interchange with Dr. During most of our interchange, I was not aware that it would be published on talk. Now it has been web-immortalized on a radiometric dating web page. I was not informed that this exchange had been posted there. In addition, the complete exchange was not posted, but only a portion of it. I do thank Tim Thomson for the courteous and professional manner in which he has interacted with me, and that he has included the rest of my exchange with Dr.
Excuses for anomalies Another issue is that sometimes the geologic periods of rocks are revised to agree with the ages computed. This also makes data about percentages of anomalies less meaningful. It sometimes seems that reasons can always be found for bad dates, especially on the geologic column.
If a rock gives a too old date, one says there is excess argon. If it gives a too young date, one says that it was heated recently, or cannot hold its argon.
How do we know that maybe all the rocks have excess argon? It looks like geologists are taking the "majority view" of K-Ar dating, but there is no necessary reason why the majority of rocks should give the right date.
The relationship of a radioisotope age with real-time must be based on an interpretation. A discussion of rubidium-strontium ages in the Isotope Geoscience Section of the journal, Chemical Geology, specifically states that a radioisotope age determination "does not certainly define a valid age information for a geological system.
Any interpretation will reflect the interpreters presuppositions bias. Need for a double-blind test Concerning the need for a double blind test, it would seem that there are many places where human judgment could influence the distribution of measured radiometric dates. It could increase the percentage of anomalies, if they were regarded as more interesting. It could decrease them, if they were regarded as flukes. Human judgment could determine whether points were collinear enough to form an isochron.
It could determine whether a point can justifiably be tossed out and the remaining points used as an isochron. It could determine whether one should accept simple parent-to-daughter K-Ar ratios or whether some treatment needs to be applied first to get better ages.
It could influence whether a spectrum is considered as flat, whether a rock is considered to have undergone leaching or heating, whether a rock is porous or not, or whether a sample has been disturbed in some way. Since one of the main reasons for accepting radiometric dates at least I keep hearing it is that they agree with each other, I think that geologists have an obligation to show that they do agree, specifically on the geologic column.
Since we do not know whether or how much human judgment is influencing radiometric dating, a double blind study is most reasonable. And it should not be restricted to just one or two well-behaved places, but should be as comprehensive as possible. Possible changes in the decay rate The following information was sent to me by e-mail:.
Radiometric dating is predicated on the assumption that throughout the earth's history radioactive decay rates of the various elements have remained constant. Is this a warranted assumption? Has every radioactive nuclide proceeded on a rigid course of decay at a constant rate? This has been challenged by studies involving Carbon C At the temperature or pressure, collisions with stray cosmic rays or the emanations of other atoms may cause changes other than those of normal disintegration.
It seems very possible that spontaneous disintegration of radioactive elements are related to the action of cosmic rays and the rate of disintegration varying from century to century according to the intensity of the rays. The evidence for a strongly increasing change in the cosmic ray influx is most favorable especially in light of the decay of the earth's magnetic field. Most geochronologists maintain that pleochroic haloes give evidence that decay constants have not changed.
Crystals of biotite, for example, and other minerals in igneous or metamorphic rocks commonly enclose minute specks of minerals containing uranium or thorium. The a- alpha particles emitted at high velocity by the disintegrating nuclides interact, because of their charge, with electrons of surrounding atoms which slow them down until they finally come to rest in the host material at a distance from their source that depends on their initial kinetic energy and the density and composition of the host.
Where they finally stop to produce lattice distortions and defects there generally occurs discoloring or darkening.
Each of the 8 a-particles emitted during the disintegration of U to Pb produces a dark ring in biotite. Each ring has its own characteristic radius in a given mineral in this case biotite.
This radius measures the kinetic energy, hence the probability of emission of the corresponding a-particle and also the half-life of the parent nuclide according to the Geiger-Nuttall law. The Geiger-Nuttall law is an empirical relation between half-life of the a-emitter and the range in air of the emitted a-particles. If the radii of these haloes from the same nuclide vary, this would imply that the decay rates have varied and would invalidate these series as being actual clocks. Are the radii in the rocks constant in size or are there variable sizes?
Most of the early studies of pleochroic haloes were made by Joly and Henderson. Joly concluded that the decay rates have varied on the basis of his finding a variation of the radii for rocks of alleged geological ages. This rather damaging result was explained away saying that enough evidence of correct radii for defferent geologic periods and sufficient variation in the same period have been obtained that one is forced to look for a different explanation of such variations as were observed by Joly.
Measurements were later made in an excellent collection of samples with haloes. It was found that the extent of the haloes around the inclusions varies over a wide range, even with the same nuclear material in the same matrix, but all sizes fall into definite groups. The measurements are, in microns, 5,7,10,17,20,23,27, and More recent studies have been made by Robert V. Gentry also finds a variation in the haloes leading him to conclude that the decay constants have not been constant in time.
Gentry points out an argument for an instantaneous creation of the earth. He noted form his studies of haloes: For the Po half-life of 3 minutes only a matter of minutes could elapse between the formation of the Po and subsequent crystallization of the mica; otherwise the Po would have decayed, and no ring would be visible. The occurrence of these halo types is quite widespread, one or more types having been observed in the micas from Canada Pre-Cambrian , Sweden, and Japan. So, then, careful scientists have measured variations in halo radii and their measurements indicate a variation in decay rates.
The radioactive series then would have no value as time clocks. This would knock our C, potassium-argon, and uranium-lead dating measurements into a cocked hat! The age of prehistoric artifacts, the age of the earth, and that of the universe would be thrown into doubt.
Flint, "Radiocarbon Dating," in Science, February 8, , p. This is significant because it is known that neutrinos do interact with the nucleii of atoms, and it is also believed that much of the energy of supernovae is carried away by neutrinos. Isochrons Isochrons are an attempt to avoid the need for an absence of daughter element initially in computing radiometric ages. The idea is that one has a parent element, X, a daughter element, Y, and another isotope, Z, of the daughter that is not generated by decay.
Imsges: limit of radiocarbon dating
Most of the samples were taken from individual funerary contexts.
He states that the number of dates within range are less than the number of anomalies, except for the Cenozoic and Cretaceous. The interior portion of a tree trunk could easily be several hundred years older than the outer portions. Intriguingly, the first date range from Lyon — corresponds rather closely to the date range given from a laboratory in Oxford for the Birmingham manuscript —
This 3 questions dating site the correlation between K-Ar dates and other dates on meteorites to come dting question, as well. The measurements on both the sample and the limit of radiocarbon dating rings have a limited precision. Here is some relevant information that was e-mailed to me. The number of dates that disagree with the expected ages is not radiocarnon. I don't deny that there is some degree of plausibility to radiometric dating, although I have to wonder if many field geologists secretly have their doubts about limit of radiocarbon dating. For consistency with these early papers, and to avoid the risk of a double correction for the incorrect half-life, radiocarbon ages are still calculated using the incorrect half-life value.
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