The isochron method Many radioactive dating methods are based on minute additions of daughter products to a rock or mineral in which a considerable amount of daughter-type isotopes already exists. These isotopes did not come from radioactive decay in the system but rather formed during the original creation of the elements. In this case, it is a big advantage to present the data in a form in which the abundance of both the parent and daughter isotopes are given with respect to the abundance of the initial background daughter. The incremental additions of the daughter type can then be viewed in proportion to the abundance of parent atoms. In mathematical terms this is achieved as follows. This term, shown in Figure 1, is called the initial ratio. The slope is proportional to the geologic age of the system. In practice, the isochron approach has many inherent advantages.

Unreliability of Radiometric Dating and Old Age of the Earth

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. 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 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.

How radiometric dating works in general: Radioactive elements decay gradually into other elements. The original element is called the parent, and the result of the decay process is .

At the time that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be million years old. By , it was found to be 1. In , science firmly established that the earth was 3. Finally in , it was discovered that the earth is “really” 4. In these early studies the order of sedimentary rocks and structures were used to date geologic time periods and events in a relative way.

At first, the use of “key” diagnostic fossils was used to compare different areas of the geologic column. Although there were attempts to make relative age estimates, no direct dating method was available until the twentieth century. However, before this time some very popular indirect methods were available. For example, Lord Kelvin had estimated the ages of both the Earth and the Sun based on cooling rates.

The answer of 25 million years deduced by Kelvin was not received favorably by geologists.

Radiometric dating

Relative methods stratigraphic, geomorphic, topographic are sound and convincing. Exhumed forms may complicate identification and relationships, for both epigene and etch forms have been buried, and exhumed, but in tectonically undisturbed areas, the higher surfaces are older than those preserved at lower levels. Also, surfaces have an age range. The relationship of surfaces with volcanic deposits, old shorelines, and genetically related sedimentary sequences provides sound ages, and correlation with dated duricrusts and faults is also useful.

There are no temporal limits to relative dating, for the methods are equally applicable to the dating, say, of Proterozoic surfaces as of those of Pleistocene age. The disadvantage of such methods is that the necessary evidence is frequently either not preserved or not exposed.

Uranium–lead dating, abbreviated U–Pb dating, is one of the oldest and most refined of the radiometric dating schemes. It can be used to date rocks that formed and crystallised from about 1 million years to over billion years ago with routine precisions in the –1 percent range.. The dating method is usually performed on the mineral zircon.

January Fossils provide a record of the history of life. Smith is known as the Father of English Geology. Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods. Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.

Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating. These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views. Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data. The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Millions of fossils have been discovered.

They cannot deny that hundreds of millions of fossils reside in display cases and drawers around the world.

“Polonium Haloes” Refuted

This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays kings, ruins town, And beats high mountain down. This riddle exemplifies how time normally results in decay and destruction. So, why are people so interested in the topic of time?

Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay.

Gentry by [Last Updated: It can be an especially difficult challenge when the Creationist author has professional credentials and has published in mainstream scientific journals. One such individual is Robert Gentry, who holds a Master’s degree in Physics and an honorary doctorate from the fundamentalist Columbia Union College. For over thirteen years he held a research associate’s position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he was part of a team which investigated ways to immobilize nuclear waste.

Gentry has spent most of his professional life studying the nature of very small discoloration features in mica and other minerals, and concluded that they are proof of a young Earth. About the Rocks Geologists classify rocks into three main categories – sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic – based on the way in which they form. Sedimentary rocks are secondary in formation, being the product of precursor rocks of any type. Igneous rocks form from molten material, and are further subdivided into two main categories, the volcanic rocks which form from lava extruded at or near the surface; and plutonic rocks which form from magma, deep within the crust.

Both types of igneous rocks comprise a mixture of different minerals. As igneous rocks cool, mineral crystals form following a specific sequence. The crystals develop an interlocking texture with some of the trace minerals becoming completely surrounded by later forming crystals. Volcanic rocks, because they are able to cool and crystalize rapidly, have a very fine-grained texture; the individual mineral grains are too small to see easily with the naked eye.


Radioactive decay[ edit ] Example of a radioactive decay chain from lead Pb to lead Pb. The final decay product, lead Pb , is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.

Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide.

Isochron Dating By Chris Stassen The article is well illustrated and well written. There is an introduction to the generic problem of radiometric dating, but this article concentrates on one well established method called the “isochron method”.

Leibnitz reworked Descartes’s cosmogony. Protogea was published much later in An essay toward a Natural History of the Earth. Woodward came down fairly strongly for the view that the flood was an act of God that could not be accounted for by normal physical processes. He also postulated hydrological sorting to account for the ordering of fossils. Whiston added comets to Burnet’s cosmogony as the source of the waters of the flood.

Changing Views of the History of the Earth

Rubidium—strontium method The radioactive decay of rubidium 87Rb to strontium 87Sr was the first widely used dating system that utilized the isochron method. Because rubidium is concentrated in crustal rocks, the continents have a much higher abundance of the daughter isotope strontium compared with the stable isotopes. A ratio for average continental crust of about 0. This difference may appear small, but, considering that modern instruments can make the determination to a few parts in 70, , it is quite significant.

Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods. Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.

The Radiometric Dating Game Radiometric dating methods estimate the age of rocks using calculations based on the decay rates of radioactive elements such as uranium, strontium, and potassium. On the surface, radiometric dating methods appear to give powerful support to the statement that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years. We are told that these methods are accurate to a few percent, and that there are many different methods. We are told that of all the radiometric dates that are measured, only a few percent are anomalous.

This gives us the impression that all but a small percentage of the dates computed by radiometric methods agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found, and that all of these various methods almost always give ages that agree with each other to within a few percentage points. Since there doesn’t seem to be any systematic error that could cause so many methods to agree with each other so often, it seems that there is no other rational conclusion than to accept these dates as accurate.

However, this causes a problem for those who believe based on the Bible that life has only existed on the earth for a few thousand years, since fossils are found in rocks that are dated to be over million years old by radiometric methods, and some fossils are found in rocks that are dated to be billions of years old. If these dates are correct, this calls the Biblical account of a recent creation of life into question.


Red horse head, below and to the left of the yellow horse heads. These horse heads and signs are in a small alcove, above a flat floor. Just a few lines have been used to outline more clearly the shape of a small mammoth, about 20 cm wide, taken up by the flowstone or stalagmite cascade at the entrance to the Brunel Chamber.

I have highlighted the shape in the right hand photograph.

Dating – Rubidium–strontium method: The radioactive decay of rubidium (87Rb) to strontium (87Sr) was the first widely used dating system that utilized the isochron method. Rubidium is a relatively abundant trace element in Earth’s crust and can be found in many common rock-forming minerals in which it substitutes for the major element potassium.

The first two-thirds of this essay deals with the rock formations of the Grand Canyon — what they are, and how and when they formed. This should be educational and understandable to readers without a science background. This essay is long. The low rainfall in the region reduces vegetative cover, so the colorful rock layers remain exposed to view.

This deep gash in the earth provides a window into the geological past. Nearly all geologists understand these layers to have been deposited over the course of hundreds of millions of years. This essay starts with a tour of the Grand Canyon, noting evidence that shows the Canyon rocks are indeed very old. YE creationists hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, which does not adequately take into account the intent of the Scriptures or the historical circumstances of their authorship.

YE creationists are convinced on religious grounds that the earth is only about years old, and that most of the sedimentary rock layers on earth including those in the Grand Canyon were laid down in the Noahic Flood around B. This view, also called Flood geology, is widely influential among conservative Christians in North America.

High school and college educators, especially in certain regions of the U. These young people are not willfully ignorant.

Uranium-lead dating