How Accurate Is Radiometric Dating? [8 ANSWERS FOUND]

As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain “glitches” and “anomalies,” as noted in the literature. Skeptics of old-earth geology make great hay of these examples. For example, creationist writer Henry Morris has highlighted the fact that measurements of specimens from a 1801 lava flow near a volcano in Hualalai, HawaiI gaveiven apparent ages (using the Potassium-Argon method) ranging from 160 million to 2.96 billion years, citing a 1968 study . In the particular case that Morris highlighted, the lava flow was unusual because it included numerous xenoliths (typically consisting of olivine, an iron-magnesium silicate material) that are foreign to the lava, having been carried from deep within the Earth but not completely melted in the lava 🤓 Also, as the authors of the 1968 article were careful to explain, xenoliths cannot be dated by the K-Ar method because of excess argon in bubbles trapped inside 😁 Thus in this case, as in many others that have been raised by skeptics of old-earth geology, the “anomaly” is more imaginary than real. Other objections raised by creationists are addressed in .
Answer: Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen-14 (N-14) into carbon-14 (C-14 or radiocarbon). Living organisms are constantly incorporating this C-14 into their bodies along with other carbon isotopes. When the organisms die, they stop incorporating new C-14, and the old C-14 starts to decay back into N-14 by emitting beta particles. The older an organism’s remains are, the less beta radiation it emits because its C-14 is steadily dwindling at a predictable rate. So, if we measure the rate of beta decay in an organic sample, we can calculate how old the sample is. C-14 decays with a half-life of 5,730 years. (last emended 78 days ago by Maynor Alley from Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico) also describes that researchers from NIST and Purdue tested this by comparing radioactive gold-198 in two shapes, spheres and thin foils, with the same mass and activity. Gold-198 releases neutrinos as it decays. The team reasoned that if neutrinos are affecting the decay rate, the atoms in the spheres should decay more slowly than the atoms in the foil because the neutrinos emitted by the atoms in the spheres would have a greater chance of interacting with their neighboring atoms. The maximum neutrino flux in the sample in their experiments was several times greater than the flux of neutrinos from the sun. The researchers followed the gamma-ray emission rate of each source for several weeks and found no difference between the decay rate of the spheres and the corresponding foils.
Here I want to concentrate on another source of error, namely, processes that take place within magma chambers. To me it has been a real eye opener to see all the processes that are taking place and their potential influence on radiometric dating. Radiometric dating is largely done on rock that has formed from solidified lava. Lava (properly called magma before it erupts) fills large underground chambers called magma chambers. Most people are not aware of the many processes that take place in lava before it erupts and as it solidifies, processes that can have a tremendous influence on daughter to parent ratios. Such processes can cause the daughter product to be enriched relative to the parent, which would make the rock look older, or cause the parent to be enriched relative to the daughter, which would make the rock look younger. This calls the whole radiometric dating scheme into serious question. (emended by Joan D. From Guang An, China on March 14, 2021)
Mehreen Alberts

Written by Mehreen Alberts

I'm a creative writer who has found the love of writing once more. I've been writing since I was five years old and it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. From topics that are close to my heart to everything else imaginable!

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