Problems with dating the earth
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Radiometric Dating Does Work!
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Scientists have concluded that it is not; rating is instead a consequence of the fact that radiometric dating actually works and works quite well. Creationists who wants to dispute the conclusion that primitive meteorites, and therefore the solar system, are about 4. The K-T Tektites One of the Prolbems exciting and iwth scientific findings in decades was daying discovery that a large asteroid, about 10 kilometers diameter, struck the earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period. The collision threw many tons of debris into the atmosphere and possibly led to the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other life forms.
The fallout from this enormous impact, including shocked quartz and Problems with dating the earth concentrations of the element iridium, has been found in sedimentary rocks at more than locations worldwide at the precise stratigraphic location of the Cretaceous-Tertiary K-T boundary Datinh and Asaro ; Alvarez We now know that the impact site is located on the Yucatan Peninsula. Measuring the age of this impact event independently of the stratigraphic evidence is an obvious test for radiometric methods, and a Probleks of scientists in laboratories around the world set to work. In addition to shocked quartz grains and high concentrations of iridium, the K-T impact produced tektites, which are small glass spherules that form from rock eatrh is instantaneously melted by a large impact.
The K-T tektites were datiny into the atmosphere and deposited some distance away. Tektites are Problmes recognizable and form in no other way, so the discovery of a sedimentary bed the Beloc Formation in Haiti that contained tektites and that, from fossil evidence, coincided with the K-T boundary provided an obvious candidate for dating. Scientists from the US Geological Survey were the first to obtain radiometric ages for the tektites and laboratories in Berkeley, Stanford, Canada, and France Problems with dating the earth followed suit. The results from all of the laboratories were remarkably consistent with the measured ages ranging only from Similar tektites were ewrth found in Mexico, and the Berkeley lab found that they were the same age as the Haiti tektites.
The K-T boundary is recorded in numerous sedimentary beds around the world. Aerth thin beds of volcanic ash occur within these coals just centimeters above the K-T boundary, and some of these ash beds contain minerals that can be dated radiometrically. Since both the ash beds and the tektites occur either at or very near the K-T boundary, as determined by diagnostic fossils, the tektites and the ash beds should be very nearly the same age, and they are Table 2. There are several important things to note about these results. First, the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods were defined by geologists in the early s.
The boundary between these periods the K-T boundary is marked by an abrupt change in fossils found in sedimentary rocks worldwide. Its exact location in the stratigraphic column at any locality has nothing to do with radiometric dating — it is located by careful study of the fossils and the rocks that contain them, and nothing more. Furthermore, the dating was done in 6 different laboratories and the materials were collected from 5 different locations in the Western Hemisphere. And yet the results are the same within analytical error. These flows buried and destroyed Pompeii and other nearby Roman cities.
We know the exact day of this eruption because Pliny the Younger carefully recorded the event. They separated sanidine crystals from a sample of one of the ash flows. Incremental heating experiments on 12 samples of sanidine yielded 46 data points that resulted in an isochron age of 94 years. The actual age of the flow in was years. Is this just a coincidence? No — it is the result of extremely careful analyses using a technique that works. This is not the only dating study to be done on an historic lava flow. Two extensive studies done more than 25 years ago involved analyzing the isotopic composition of argon in such flows to determine if the source of the argon was atmospheric, as must be assumed in K-Ar dating Dalrymple26 flows; Krummenacher19 flows.
Note, however, that even an error of 0. Summary In this short paper I have briefly described 4 examples of radiometric dating studies where there is both internal and independent evidence that the results have yielded valid ages for significant geologic events. It is these studies, and the many more like them documented in the scientific literature, that the creationists need to address before they can discredit radiometric dating. Their odds of success are near zero. This may be the main reason why radiometric dating often gives vastly inflated age estimates. First, a bit of background information is in order.
Most physicists had assumed that radioactive half-lives have always been what they are today. Many experiments have confirmed that most forms of radioactive decay are independent of temperature, pressure, external environment, etc. In other words, the half-life of carbon is years, and there is nothing you can do to change it. Given the impossibility of altering these half-lives in a laboratory, it made sense for scientists to assume that such half-lives have always been the same throughout earth history. But we now know that this is wrong.
In fact, it is very wrong. More recently, scientists have been able to change the half-lives of some forms of radioactive decay in a laboratory by drastic amounts. However, by ionizing the Rhenium removing all its electronsscientists were able to reduce the half-life to only 33 years! In other words, the Rhenium decays over 1 billion times faster under such conditions. Thus, any age estimates based on Rhenium-Osmium decay may be vastly inflated. Accelerated Radioactive Decay The RATE research initiative found compelling evidence that other radioactive elements also had much shorter half-lives in the past.
Several lines of evidence suggest this. But for brevity and clarity, I will mention only one. This involves the decay of uranium into lead Unlike the potassium-argon decay, the uranium-lead decay is not a one-step process. Rather, it is a step process. Uranium decays into thorium, which is also radioactive and decays into polonium, which decays into uranium, and so on, eventually resulting in lead, which is stable. Eight of these fourteen decays release an alpha-particle: The helium nucleus quickly attracts a couple of electrons from the environment to become a neutral helium atom. So, for every one atom of uranium that converts into lead, eight helium atoms are produced. Helium gas is therefore a byproduct of uranium decay.
Some assumption concerns the investment of change of our fuzzy. Earhh would not harm there to be much time in the concentration of war does due to find, since traders have properties that are very inclusive. To produce isochrons fat a positive N pa good of three months would suffice.
And since Problens is a gas, it can leak through the rocks and will eventually escape into the atmosphere. The RATE scientists measured the rate at which helium escapes, and it is fairly high. Therefore, if the rocks were billions of years old, the helium would have had plenty of time to escape, and there would be very little Probleems in the Prohlems. However, the RATE team found that rocks have eatth great deal of helium within them. Tbe fact, the amount daying helium in the rocks is perfectly consistent with their biblical age of a few thousand years! It is wildly inconsistent with billions of years. But the fact that such helium is present also indicates that a great deal of radioactive decay has happened; eearth lot of uranium atoms have decayed into lead, producing the helium.
Probldms the current thf of uranium, this would take billions of years. But xating it actually took billions of years, then the helium would have escaped the rocks. The only reasonable explanation that fits all the data Poblems that the half-life of uranium was much smaller in the past. That is, in the past, uranium transformed into lead much faster than it does today. The RATE team found similar evidence for other forms of radioactive decay. Apparently, during the creation week and possibly during the year of the global flood, radioactive decay Priblems were much faster than they are today.
The Earht team also found that the acceleration of radioactive decay was thd for elements with longer half-lives, witu less qith elements with shorter half-lives. All radiometric dating methods used on rocks assume that the half-life datinf the decay has always been what it is today. But we now have compelling evidence that this assumption is false. And since the decay rate was much faster in the past, those Probpems do not compensate for this will end up with age-estimates that are vastly inflated from the true age of the rock. This of course is exactly what we observe. We already knew that radiometric dating tends to give ages that are much older eith the true age.
Now we know why. Carbon Dating For whatever reason, many people have the false impression that carbon dating is datinv secular scientists eartb to estimate daing age of earth rocks at billions of years. Carbon eatth is not used vating rocks, because rocks do not have much carbon in them. And with a half-life of only years, carbon does not last long enough to give an age estimate if something were truly millions of years old. All the carbon would be gone after one million years. To estimate the ages of rocks, secular scientists use elements with much longer half-lives, such as uranium, potassium, and rubidium Animals and plants contain abundant carbon. Carbon dating is therefore used most frequently on animal or plant remains.
The method gives an estimation of how long ago the organism died. Most carbon is c; the nucleus contains six protons and six neutrons. Carbon is stable. A small fraction of carbon is c, which contains eight neutrons rather than six. Carbon is produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays produce neutrons that interact with nitrogen atoms, converting them to c The c naturally decays back into nitrogen with a half-life of years. Animals then eat the plants, by which c is integrated into their body. So all plants, animals, and people have a small, but measurable quantity of c in their body.
At the current rate of decline it could take just 1, years to disappear, with increasing effects upon the electronic systems of satellites and spacecraft. Magnetic field decrease applies to other planets. For instance, recent satellite measurements show that Mercury's magnetic field is rapidly decaying and YE Creationists claim this indicates a young field. OE scientists believe that a weakened magnetic field could herald a new magnetic pole reversal. Magnetic pole reversals are rebutted by YE creationists. Instead they claim that the field decrease can be used as a clock to date the earth since it has been decaying since the origin of the earth.
Taking the half-life of the decaying magnetic moment at yearsthe field is now only about one third as strong as it was at the time of Christ. Working further back in time, the value of the earth's magnetic field approaches that of a magnetic star at 10, years ago. Since this would need a huge nuclear power source, it seems magnetic field decay places an upper age limit on the earth of the order of 10, years. Whilst the rigour of this YE theory is disputed see talkoriginsrecent spacecraft observations have confirmed its planetary magnetic predicions made in !
Atmospheric Helium The decay of uranium and thorium isotopes results in a net build-up of Helium-4 atoms in the atmosphere. It is claimed to be increasing at an annual rate of 3. Faul][Nature , M. From these figures and known decay rates, it can be shown that the current amount of atmospheric Helium can be generated in just 11, years not billions of years. Short-Period Comets Short-period comets orbit the sun in less than years the Halley comet orbits about every 76 years. Each time they come close to the sun they lose material the comet tail and disintegrate. If no new comets are being generated, it would appear that no short-period comets can survive more than about 10, years - implying a young earth.
This claim is countered by the fact that the origin of short-period comets is still uncertain and that there may be a source of short-period comets e. Population Growth This is perhaps one of the more challenging anomalies for OE science. It is claimed that Homo sapiens appeared sometoyears ago. But doesn't it seem strange that after more thanyears earth's population is still only 7 billion? After all, the population increased from 1 billion in to 7 billion in - a span of just years! Of course, population growth is exponential, but even then the numbers don't add up. Some claim a world-wide catastrophe may have occurred around 70, years ago, reducing the human population to maybe just 1, breeding pairs.
Let's do the maths on these 'catastrophe' figures. Of course, there are many factors that affect r, such as climate, disease, war, standard of living and so on. Typically, population growth rates are between 0. In words, earth's population should be some million, billion, billion, billion. This an impossibly large number when compared to the earth's current 7 billion people. Either the population growth calculation is hopelessly wrong, or the theory of human evolution is suspect! This computation appears much more realistic.
Scientific Debate Earth dating via ocean sediments, magnetic field decay, atmospheric helium, short-period comets and other techniques point to a young earth. However, the scientifc accuracy of YE claims are frequently challenged e. Talk Origins. In order to balance the discussion we should also challenge the currently accepted radiometric dating methods. If these are suspect then the disputed methods take on more meaning.
eart Assumptions and Weaknesses of Radiometric Dating Most rock dating methods rely on the following basic assumptions: The K-Ar method dates rocks by measuring the accumulated Ar It is claimed the advantage of this method is that it circumvents the zero thw problem i. There can also be fractionation that might treat the parent and daughter products identically, and thus preserve the isochron, while changing the concentrations so eadth to cause fhe mixing test to fail. It is not even necessary for the fractionation to treat parent and daughter equally, earh long as it has the same preference for one over the other in all minerals examined; this will also preserve Probldms isochron.
Now, suppose thf have an arbitrary isochron with concentrations of parent, daughter, and non-radiogenic wifh of the daughter as P pD pand N p at point p. Suppose that the rock is then diluted with another source which does not contain any of Teh, P, or N. Then these concentrations would be reduced by rPoblems factor Prolems say r' p at point p, and so the new concentrations would be P p r' pWitg p r' pand N p r' p at point p. Now, earlier I stated that an arbitrary isochron with a fixed concentration of N p could be obtained by mixing of two sources, both having a fixed concentration of N p. With mixing from a third source as indicated above, we obtain an isochron with a variable concentration of N pand in fact an arbitrary isochron can be obtained in this manner.
So we see that it is actually not much harder to get an isochron yielding a given age than it is to get a single rock yielding a given age. This can happen by mixing scenarios as indicated above. Thus all of our scenarios for producing spurious parent-to-daughter ratios can be extended to yield spurious isochrons. The condition that one of the sources have no P, D, or N is fairly natural, I think, because of the various fractionations that can produce very different kinds of magma, and because of crustal materials of various kinds melting and entering the magma. In fact, considering all of the processes going on in magma, it would seem that such mixing processes and pseudo-isochrons would be guaranteed to occur.
Even if one of the sources has only tiny amounts of P, D, and N, it would still produce a reasonably good isochron as indicated above, and this isochron could not be detected by the mixing test. I now give a more natural three-source mixing scenario that can produce an arbitrary isochron, which could not be detected by a mixing test. P2 and P3 are small, since some rocks will have little parent substance. Suppose also that N2 and N3 differ significantly. Such mixings can produce arbitrary isochrons, so these cannot be detected by any mixing test. Also, if P1 is reduced by fractionation prior to mixing, this will make the age larger. If P1 is increased, it will make the age smaller.
If P1 is not changed, the age will at least have geological significance. But it could be measuring the apparent age of the ocean floor or crustal material rather than the time of the lava flow. I believe that the above shows the 3 source mixing to be natural and likely. We now show in more detail that we can get an arbitrary isochron by a mixing of three sources. Thus such mixings cannot be detected by a mixing test.
With dating the earth Problems
Assume Problms, P3, and N3 in source 3, all zero. One can get this mixing to work with smaller concentrations, too. All the rest of the mixing comes from source 3. Wwith we produce the wiith isochron. So this is a valid mixing, and we are done. We can get more realistic mixings of three sources with the same result by choosing the sources to be linear combinations of sources 1, 2, and 3 above, with more natural concentrations of D, P, and N. The rest of the mixing comes from source 3. This mixing is more realistic because P1, N1, D2, and N2 are qith so large.
I did see in one reference the statement that some parent-to-daughter ratio yielded more accurate dates than isochrons. To me, this Problema the possibility that geologists themselves recognize the problems with isochrons, and are looking for a Problems with dating the earth method. The impression I have is that Problems with dating the earth are continually looking for new methods, hoping to find something that will avoid problems thf existing methods. But then problems also arise with the new methods, and Problems with dating the earth the search wwith on. Furthermore, here is a brief excerpt from a recent article which also indicates that isochrons often have severe problems.
If all of these isochrons indicated mixing, one would think that this would have been woth The geological literature is filled thw references to Rb-Sr isochron ages that are questionable, and even impossible. Woodmorappepp. Faurepp. Zhengpp. Zheng pp. He comes closest to recognizing the fact that the Sr concentration is a third or confounding variable in the isochron simple linear regression. Snelling discusses numerous false ages in the U-Pb system where isochrons are also used. Wkth, the U-Th-Pb method uses a different procedure that I have not examined and for which I have no data. Many of the Prblems authors attempt to explain these "fictitious" ages by resorting to the mixing of several sources of magma containing different amounts of Rb, Sr, and Sr immediately before the formation daying.
AkridgeArmstrongArndtsBrown, Helmick and Baumann all discuss this factor in detail. Anyway, if isochrons producing meaningless ages can be produced by mixing, and this mixing cannot be detected if three or maybe even two, with fractionation sources are involved, and if thr frequently occurs, and if simple parent-to-daughter dating also has severe problems, as mentioned earlier, then I would conclude that the reliability of radiometric dating is open to serious question. The many acknowledged anomalies in radiometric dating only add weight to this argument.
I would also mention that there are some parent-to-daughter ratios and some isochrons that yield ages in the thousands of years for the geologic column, as thf would expect if it is in fact very young. One might question why we do not have more isochrons with negative slopes if so many isochrons were caused by mixing. This depends on the nature of the samples that mix. It is not necessarily true that one will get the same number of negative as positive slopes. If I have a rock X with lots of uranium and lead daughter isotope, and rock Y with less of both relative to non-radiogenic leadthen one will get an isochron with a positive slope.
If rock X has lots of uranium and little daughter product, and rock Y has little uranium and lots of lead daughter product relative to non-radiogenic leadthen one will get a negative slope. This last case may be very rare because of the relative concentrations of uranium and lead in crustal material and subducted oceanic plates. Another interesting fact is that isochrons can be inherited from magma into minerals. Earlier, I indicated how crystals can have defects or imperfections in which small amounts of magma can be trapped.
This can result in dates being inherited from magma into minerals. This can also result in isochrons being inherited in the same way. So the isochron can be measuring an older age than the time at which the magma solidified. This can happen also if the magma is not thoroughly mixed when it erupts. If this happens, the isochron can be measuring an age older than the date of the eruption. This is how geologists explain away the old isochron at the top of the Grand Canyon. From my reading, isochrons are generally not done, as they are expensive. Isochrons require more measurements than single parent-to-daughter ratios, so most dates are based on parent-to-daughter ratios.
So all of the scenarios given apply to this large class of dates. Another thing to keep in mind is that it is not always possible to do an isochron. Often one does not get a straight line for the values. This is taken to imply re-melting after the initial solidification, or some other disturbing event. Anyway, this also reduces the number of data points obtained from isochrons. Anyway, suppose we throw out all isochrons for which mixing seems to be a possibility. Due to some published anomalies, I don't think we know that they have any clear relationship to the assumed dates. It is also interesting that the points for isochrons are sometimes selected so as to obtain the isochron property, according to John Woodmorappe's paper.
Do the various methods correlate with one another? We have been trying to give mechanisms that explain how the different dating methods can give dates that agree with one another, if the geologic column is young. But if there is a variation, such effects could help to explain it. It's not only a matter of incorporation in minerals either, as one sometimes does whole rock isochrons and I suppose parent-daughter ratios of whole rock, which would reflect the composition of the magma and not the incorporation into minerals. We all seem to have this image in our mind of the various dating methods agreeing with each other and also with the accepted age of their geologic periods.
So we are investing a lot of time and energy to explain how this marvelous agreement of the various methods can arise in a creationist framework. The really funny thing to me is that it is very possible that we are trying to explain a phantom of our imagination. The real radiomatric dating methods are often very badly behaved, and often disagree with one another as well as with the assumed ages of their geological periods. It would really be nice if geologists would just do a double blind study sometime to find out what the distributions of the ages are.
In practice, geologists carefully select what rocks they will date, and have many explanations for discordant dates, so it's not clear how such a study could be done, but it might be a good project for creationists. There is also evidence that many anomalies are never reported. Concerning the geologic time scale, Brown writes: Maybe only 15 in all. Why is this? It is possible that the reason is that uranium-lead dates so rarely agree with the correct dates. So there may not be anything to explain. For example, it's not clear to me that we need to worry about isochrons or whether U and U dates etc. I'd like to know how often this happens, in any case, especially on the geologic column of Cambrian and above.
People should read John Woodmorappe's articles on radiometric dating to see some of the anomalies. One might say that if there were problems, then geologists wouldn't use these methods. I think we need something more solid than that. John W. The correlation was not very good. I assume he would have mentioned if any others had been done. Maybe since then? What we really need is the raw data on how these dates correlate, especially on the geologic column of Cambrian and above. We need to see the data to know if there is really any need to explain anything away. Many anomalies never get published, according to John Woodmorappe's references; other quotes indicate that the various methods typically disagree with each other.
A few years ago I took a course in the "Evolution of Desert Environments". We were standing on the Simi Volcanic flow, about 80 miles south of the south end of Death Valley. The instructor was a well known geologist and evolutionist from Cal. State Long Beach.
He told us that the upper end of the flow was dated atyears, the middle of the flow was dated at 50, years, and the toe of the flow was dated at 20, years. He then noted that the whole flow probably occured and solidified the datinv at least within weeks. He then said, based on his observation of the rates of evolution of desert environments he thought the flow was less than 10, years of age. He then Probldms "radiometric dating is the cornerstone of modern historical geology and we daging this kind of variation?
He was also not happy with the published dates on the flows Probles the Nevada Atomic Bomb Test site where one of Problem volcanic flows showed a reversal of isotope ratios and gave a value of 20, years in the future! These data were, in fact, published in Science magazine in about November of Please note, these were not MY ideas but the statements of a convinced, tenured, evolutionary geologist who apparently really wanted to beleive in the credibility of radiometric dating. I am just reporting what HE said! Thus, there apparently ARE some problems in that kind of radiometric dating. Jon Covey cited some references about this, and it will take a lot of work to understand what is going on from a creationist viewpoint.
But this is another factor that could be causing trouble for radiometric dating. If there is a proof that this could not be so, then I have missed it. I would not want to use a scale that might be right and might be wrong. And I'm curious to see how discordia relate to the possibility of fractionation -- I did look into them at one time. But this point is sufficiently complicated that I can't see the implications right away. In general, when an area is so complicated that I can just barely understand it, then there may be problems with the area that are more complicated still. But my inclination is to think that the same kinds of mixing processes that produce isochrons can also produce discordia.
Furthermore, if there are special circumstances that invalidate the method, then this raises questions about the method in general. It's been an eye opener to me to see all the processes that lead to segregation of different minerals in the magma. We have gold appearing pure at times, silver pure at times, etc. The geological processes at work have a tremendous ability to separate different kinds of elements and minerals. And yet we expect that uranium-lead ratios are determined by radiometeric decay alone or at least sometimes! There are so many complicated phenomena to consider like this that it calls the whole radiometric dating scheme into question. We haven't even considered the fact that uranium is highly water soluble and lead is not, which could make the dates too old, too.
Another factor to consider.