Matter consists of atoms making up more than 110 elements. Each element has different varieties called isotopes and some of these isotopes are radioactive. Isotopes differ in the number of neutrons in nucleus and the radioactive isotopes decay by emitting particles.
Radiometric dating is based on the decay of radioactive isotopes in to stable isotopes. The above illustration is the U238 - Pb206 series. U238 is the parent isotope and the others are daughter isotopes. The Pb206 is the final daughter isotope and the one used in radiometric dating.
The theory is that as a parent isotope decays, the percentage of the parent isotope decreases, while the percentage of the daughter isotopes increases. This only works perfectly in a closed system, that is one in which there is no gain or loss of parent or daughter isotope. Such a closed system does not exist.
When dating a rock; a scientist does not hook it up to his ACME dating machine to get a date. They actually measure only the ratio of parent or daughter isotopes in the rock. These ratios can be the result of radioactive decay, parent and daughter isotope entering or leaving the system, or the original isotopic make up of the system.
How this relates to the age of the rock is all theory. It involves theories about the formation of the rock and its history since it was formed.
In dating any object with out a documented date, a scientists:
Radio-isotope dating relies on the following assumptions:
Processes or Time
As stated before rocks are not dated by plugging them in to an ACME dating machine. Dating labs do not measure time but measure isotopes ratios. Are these ratios the result of radioactive decay over time or other processes that have taken place in the rock?
Data from: Radioactive Dating Explained - Part 2
Some times different methods used on the same rock, produce different ages. Further more the same method can produce different ages on different parts of the same rock. Some times these are close but other times they are vary different.
Isotopic Fractionation is a physical separation of isotopes and a non radioactive source of isotope ratios. It can be caused by heating and cooling, water flow, contact between high and low concentration magma and just normal molecular motion. Evidence for Isotopic Fractionation does show up in isotopic data so it is a factor that needs to be considered.
Water flow through rocks is important because all parent substance and many daughter substances are water soluble. This is particularly important in light of the Flood.
Formation of sample
How a rock is formed is important to understanding its isotopic make up and any dates derived. The isotopic make up of original material is important, as is mixing of magma with surrounding material. The conditions of formation are also important, because both cooling rate and the opportunities for mixing affect isotope ratios. Quick cooling or not having contact with the air can affect theoretical mechanisms for "resetting" the clock.
Some times radiometric dating produces impossible results.
Some soil from the Moon has been dated as more than a billion older than the uniformitarian age for the Moon. It was explained by processes of heating and cooling soil had been through.
Some rocks dated older than the
Recent or young volcanic rocks producing excessively old K-Ar "ages":
Examples of negative ages
Some rocks have been measured with negative radiometric ages, in some case in terms of millions of years. Isochron dating can also produce negative ages, by producing a negative slope. K-Ar and Ar-Ar can result in negative ages when atmospheric argon is considered. So if these are real dates then you can hold a rock in your hand that wont form for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years yet.
Now in all fairness Ar-Ar dating can get the right age for a sample of known age, but it can also date samples as way too old, but without a known date there is no way of knowing when it is too old. One key factor is the fact that Ar-Ar dating need a standard of "known" age. If standard is of historically known age, such as would likely be used for testing Ar-Ar dating on sample of known age, then one would be more likely to get the correct age. For allegedly older samples K-Ar is used to "date" the standard and as such it still has the same problems as K-Ar dating.
Radiometric Dating Methods
Some of the basic Dating Methods are as follows:
All these methods rely on the changing ratio of parent or daughter isotopes in a closed system. Now such a closed system does not really exists, but open system affects can't be determined easily, so it is hoped that they about balance out. These methods all have the same basic assumptions.
Realizing the difficulty of dealing with assumptions #2 and #3 above Isochron Dating was developed in an attempt to solve this problem.
According to theory the sample starts out with daughter isotopes ratio with other isotopes of the same element at a constant value, but with the parent isotope is arbitrary. As a result is forms a strait horizontal line on a graph. As parent decays to daughter, the ratios change and the straight line remains but becomes angled. The slope of the line equals the number of half-lives of the parent isotope has passed sense solidification.
If there occurs a gain or loss of parent isotope the point moves horizontally. If it is a gain the point moves right. If it is a loss the point moves left.
If a gain or loss of daughter isotope the point moves vertically. A gain moved the point up and a loss moves the point down.
Take this set of data points.
A shift from contamination can take place in all of the data points, but such contamination does not affect all data points equally, so it can cause the data points to shift off the true Isochron completely. Given this when one looks at an Isochron plot how can one really tell where the true Isochron line should be. Sufficient contamination can produce any Isochron pattern regardless of the true Isochron.
It is even possible to get a negative slope, this would be equivalent to a negative or future date.
When you look at actual isochron plots such as the ones
at above link, there seems to be room for subjectivity. Some are
better than others but there is often room for multiple plot
lines. Even uniformitarian geologists recognize the existence of
false isochron. So how do they distinguish good data from bad?
The answer is where the sample fits in
An example of a real Isochron
It is also supported by additional isotope ratios. In addition the data points were the five out of ten samples that "were interpreted to be in the more or less closed-system." However it was concluded that this isochron was the result of contamination as an open system based on the fact that the date was about 50% of the age suggest by the spore and pollen fossils in the deposit. So this other wise good isochron was rejected because it disagreed with the fossils.
The result is that contamination can form good looking isochron data and uniformitarian geolgists know it. The real way a "true" isochron is distinguished from a false isochron is by how well it agrees with how old the fossils alleged to be.
Concordia dating is a form of Uranium/Lead dating the uses a concordia diagram like the one above. The theory is that when zircons crystallize that they loose all of their lead and so that as long as the crystal reaming closed it Lead/Uranium ratios should follow the above chart.
It is further theorized that sense all isotopes of the same element are chemically identical that they should be removed in proportional amounts, forming a strait line on the concordia diagram, that crosses the concordia curve at both the crystallization and the contamination date. Loss of Uranium moves the point up and to the right, while a loss of lead moves the point down and to the left.
In reality you don't always get a nice need line showing that reality is more complicated than this than indicated by the theory. Furthermore contamination can total reset the "clock" providing a way to explain data that does not fit the theory.
For Concordia dating the samples must have both the crystallization and the contamination dates, this provides yet another way to explain data that does not fit the theory.
Concordia dating is based one the following assumptions.
Above is a concordia diagram is based on accelerated decay and Biblical creation. While it is not a precise diagram, it illustrates the basic affect that accelerated decay and Biblical creation would have on concordia dating.
Given concordia dating's questionable assumptions and the ability of the theory to explain dates that don't fit the theory, it is reasonable to conclude that concordia dating is not reliable as it is claimed to be.
Fission-track dating involves counting the damage tracks left fragments of the spontaneous fission Uranium-238. The spontaneous fission Uranium-238 has a known rate, as such the number of tracks is theoretically related to the age of the sample.
Because fission-track dating, requires a manual count of the fission-tracks, the process is more prone to human error and bias than other radiometric dating methods. This problem is increased by the fact that there are other types of crystal defects that can easily be counted as fission-tracks.
The leaching of Uranium from the sample can create an artificially old fission-track date and a heating event will erase tracks producing artificially young fission-track date, thus as with all radiometric dating methods any disagreement between a fission-track date and what is expected can be explained away.
Another source of possible error for fission-track dating is the possibility that tracks could be made by isotopes with higher spontaneous fission rates than Uranium-238. Furthermore neutron bombardment will induce fission in the uranium-235 and all fission reactions produce neutrons, use it is likely that some uranium-235 induce fission tracks are mistaken for Uranium-238.
Finally Like all dating methods it assumes a constant decay rate, how there is evidence that accelerated decay has occurred. If accelerated decay did occur then fission-track dating; like all other all radiometric dating methods; is hopelessly in error.
Carbon 14 Dating
Carbon 14 dating is used for "dating" organic sample.
The theory is that cosmic rays reacts with upper atmospheric nitrogen to form Carbon14. The Carbon 14 falls to Earth gets absorbed by plants and animals so that the Carbon 14 levels constant through an animal's life and Carbon 14 levels drop from decay after death. The date is based on Carbon 12 / Carbon14 ratio.
Like all dating methods there are assumptions.
Carbon 14 has a half life of 5,750 years, theoretically giving it a maximum datable age of about 100,000 years. Now Carbon 14 dates this high be reconciled with Biblical dates?
The answer is that there was rapid post Flood increase in Carbon 14. This could have resulted from post flood fluctuation in Earth's magnetic field. The Solar system could have been exposed to above normal cosmic ray influx this would be consistent with accelerated nuclear decay during the Flood. It would also explain cosmic ray dating of meteors. These are not mutually exclusive.
This theory makes 3 testable predictions.
Animals that have been found with significantly different Carbon 14 dates in different parts of their bodies or surrounding organic material, fulfilling prediction #1.
This shows definite and constant inconsistency between old Carbon 14 dates, when applied to tree rings and other uniformitarian methods. Carbon 14 give a fairly accurate date up to about 2,500 years ago, the it start deviating significantly younger than tree rings. There is some circular reasoning since older tree ring dates are often matched by uses of Carbon 14 as dealt with in the article on Tree Rings. While the carbon 14 does give a younger age the other methods, it only shows that they build up faster than Carbon 14 did.
It gets worse when it is compared to other methods. While there is a general trend there is no real constancy. This full fills prediction number #2.
Organic material found in rocks supposedly too old for C14 dating has shown measurable amounts of C14.
This full fills prediction #3.
So all three predictions of a rapid post Flood increase in Carbon 14 seem to have been confirmed, this strongly indicates that this theory is correct.
This model is further supported by the fact that Carbon 14 is found throughout the geologic column and the amounts do not vary with the location in the column above the Precambrian. This suggests that the layers formed quickly and at the about the same time. It further shows that the fossil organisms found in these rocks lived at the same time.
The only trends are as follows:
This is 100% consistent with a Young Earth creation model and the basic trend predicted by Young Earth creation.
Concordant Radiometric "ages" from
From: Radiometric Dating II
Charts such as this are often used to illustrate the consistency of radiometric dating. The claim is that the agreement among such dates shows the legitimacy of the dates. Now concordance ( agreement ) does occur, sometimes vary closely, but this proves nothing about the accuracy of the dates. The first assumption is that the odds of coincidental concordance are extremely small. The second is that the only process that would produce concordant date is radioactive decay over time.
Curiously the only place on the internet that I could find charts of radiometric dates such as the one above are on web sites that are attacking Young Earth Creationists. The only exception is the source sited above but they relied heavily on two web sites that do. What such sites don't show you is that vast disagreements in dates can be demonstrated as well.
When I found a chart of dating data from The Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, I found a different story. The data was collected from various locations scattered over Alaska. The report containing the charts called Radiometric dates from Alaska - a 1975 compilation is simply a chart of data with no interpretation beyond the date calculations.
Now 62% of the locations had only one date and so there was nothing to compare the dates to. Another 35% were remeasured by the same method and therefore they only show the isotopic consistency of the rock. Only 3% of the locations had dates by different methods.
The result is that after evaluating the radiometric dates from 509 locations scattered over Alaska, is that there is no statistical indication of trend favoring concordance. Yes, this is based on only 14 samples, but that shows how seldom more than one dating method is used ( or reported ) in radiometric dating.
As stated before vast disagreements in radiometric dates can be demonstrated as well. The following is data on three difference rock formations in the Grand Canyon. The isochron ages are from the K-Ar and Rb-Sr model ages next to them.
Data from: Radioactive Dating Explained - Part 2
The Uinkaret Plateau samples are from lava flows on the plateau, at the top of the Grand Canyon and some flows down into the canyon so that the eruption must have occurred after canyon was formed. These are indisputably some of the youngest rock in the canyon, but yet it's radiometric ages range from a 10,000 years K-Ar date to a 2.81 billion years Pb-Pb Isochron date.
Even still the Rubidium strontium dates place the rocks at about 1.3 billion years. This would make them pre-Cambrian rocks, rather than the modern Quaternary rocks; which they obviously are. There is overlapping of the Rb-Sr dates, meaning that they are concordant, as is the Rb-Sr Isochron date but yet the dates are clearly wrong. Also the bottom two K-Ar dates are concordant but disagree dramatically from the concordant Rb-S dated. None of the dates from different methods overlap, other than the Rb-Sr and Rb-Sr Isochron.
Data from: Radioactive Dating Explained - Part 2
The Cardenas Basalts are classified as late pre-Cambrian rocks and the radiometric dates reflect this but there such disagreement among the dates that we need to ask which age should you believe? The only overlap in method is between the Rb-Sr and Rb-Sr Isochron. Once again we have concordance among the dates of a given method but not between methods, so which is correct?
Data from: Radioactive Dating Explained - Part 2
The Diabase Sills are some of the deepest rocks in Grand Canyon and so they should be the oldest, but yet they yield some of the youngest Rb-Sr dates. Now it did yield the oldest K-Ar Isochron dates, but they were not old enough, since they should be several billion years. Curiously the Rb-Sr Isochrons of both Cardenas Basalts and Diabase Sills are the same. This one is better on the concordance of dates between different methods but only because Rb-Sr dates spans about 800 million years, but internally the Rb-Sr dates are hardly concordant at all.
The real question is how likely is coincidental concordance of dates this question was first dealt with in a study using completely random data, by John Woodmorappe in his book Mythology of Modern Dating Methods. The study show a high likely hood of fortunate concordance.
Each trial consisted of strings of 100 random numbers. The range for concordance defined as +- 2.5%, so that overlapping ranges were considered concordant.
When I tried his little exercise I got the following results. First try concordant pairs which are at the same point in their respective lists occurred about 4.75% of the time. When the position on the lists were not important the odds of getting concordant pairs in random data were vary good. In fact one needs to go to more than 6 concordant pairs before the odds of concordance drops below 50%.
The fact is that the odds of fortunate concordance in random data are quite good. This is particularly true given the large number of available samples of radiometric dates.
Now real radiometric dates are definitely not this random, at the very least the physical processes that affect isotope ratios limit date ranges increasing the odds of fortunate concordance. So the odds are sufficiently in favor of fortunate concordance that such agreement of dates can not be used to claim accuracy.
The radiohalos found in the biotite mica of granite and other rocks are damage caused the radiation of a-particles. They result mainly from Uranium 238, Thorium 232, and their decay products. The energy of the a-particles different in each isotope and the size of the ring results from the energy of the a-particles, this allows the isotope that produced each ring to be identified. Some are produced by the entire Uranium 238 decay series, while other are produce by Polonium 210, 214, and 218 decay series. still others are produced by the entire Thorium 232 decay series. Some are even unidentified.
Made on from data on page 115-118
Most radiohalos are found in rock thought to have formed during the Flood so given the fact that U238 and Th232 halos take 100 millions of years to form at todays decay rates, this requires them to have formed quickly by accelerated decay. The data shows that heat from the flood wiped out all pre Flood radiohalos. Po halos make up a large number of radiohalos. This provides evidence of a world wide heating event. This evidence fits with a Global Flood, provides evidence form the Flood and for accelerated decay during the Flood.This also falsifies Robert Gentry's creation hypothosis, showing that creation hypothosis can be falsified.
Po isotopes have short half lives so they.had to come from the Uranium238 day chain.
The Uranium238 is found in zircons embedded in the biotite. Rn222 is the transport isotope, with a [[half life]] of 3.8. It's dacay produces the Po210, Po214, Po218 that produce the Po halos. Rn222 is not chemicaly active. It defusses out of zircons and desolve in water quickly.
When a Rn222 gets out of a zircon it decays, through the Po isotopes and others, and eventually to Pb206. To form a halo the Po must encounter a sodium or lead deposit since both chemically react with Po. Under the right conditions the Po is concentrated to form a halo.The problem is that left to it self , the Rn222 will go in random directions from the zircon they came from and never reach one place where the Po can be concentrated.
Hydrothermal flows occur in cooling biotite mica as water flows between layers quickly cooling the biotite. Rn222 dissolves in the water and is carried by the flow, carrying all Rn222 produced by a zircon in one direction. This allows the Po to be picked up by a small sodium or lead deposit, concentrating the Po and allowing halo to form.
Radiohalos can only form in biotite mica below 150 degrees C and Po halos can only continues to form as long as the hydrothermal flow is depositing more Po to the site. Because of the short half-lives of Po isotopes, the halo stops forming shortly after hydrothermal flow stops. Since hydrothermal flows cool rocks quickly it has to stops before the rock can stop cooling, as a result, the can not have flowed in these rocks the 100 + million years need for these halos form a normal decay rates, thus providing additional evidence of accelerated decay.
Since accelerated half life would be related to normal half life it is likely that the longer half life isotopes would be accelerated more, thus U238s rate could be accelerated a billion times, while Rn222 and Po isotopes would be hardly affected.
Based on Rn222's half life of 3.8 days the optimum time for Po halo formation is 7-10 days from showing the the rocks cooled from 300 to 50 degrees C in that time. The darkness of many Po halos show the conditions was near optimum for Po halo formation, when this halos were formed
Further support for this model is the lack of evidence of a-particle tracks from Rn222 between U238 and Po halos. This suggests that much of the Rn222 was transported at temperatures greater than 150 degrees C. Furthermore, the fact that the center of Po halos is not radioactive, shows that their formation has stopped. Thus the evidence is consistent with hydrothermal transport and quick cooling.
The main assumption of Radiometric Dating is that the decay rates are constant with time. If the decay rate has varied significantly over time then any date based on radioactive decay is worthless.
A Group of Scientists called RATE ( Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth ) was started by ICR to study this issue from a creationist perspective. They have determined that the most likely times for accelerated decay were the first 2.5 days of the creation week, and during the Flood and shortly there after.
Evidence for accelerated decay.
If radioactive decay has been go for millions and Billions of years then there is insufficient argon diffusion, insufficient lead diffusion, insufficient helium in the air, and too much Helium in Rocks.
Recent experiments commissioned by RATE indicate that "1.5 billion years" worth of nuclear decay have taken place, but in one or more short periods 4000 - 8000 years ago. This would shrink the alleged 4.5 billion year radioisotope age of the earth to only a few thousand years.
This was done by extracting hard, dense, microscopic crystals called zircons. Much of the uranium and thorium in the earth's continental crust is in zircons and it is often imbedded in flakes of biotite; a black mica. Helium is made as uranium decays to lead as it emits eight alpha particles per atom. These helium nuclei quickly gathers two electrons from the crystal becoming complete helium atoms.
Los Alamos measurements of uranium, thorium, and lead showed "1.5 billion" years worth of nuclear decay at today's rates. After calculating how much helium had been deposited by decay, they then measured how much helium was still in the zircons. It turned out that up to 58% of helium had not diffused out of the zircons and the percentages decreased with depth and temperature.
At the time that RATE began its work, the diffusion rates had not been measured for the Zircons and biotite. So based on the helium found in zircons, Dr. Russell Humphreys calculated the diffusion rates for both Creation and Uniformitarian models. He found that the rates for the two models differs by a factor of 100,000.
When the diffusion rate was measured they matched the Creation Model while they were found to be totally incompatible with the Uniformitarian Model These results along with the helium observed in zircons shows that diffusion has been occurring for 6000 ± 2000 years. These rates are about 250,000 times to high for the uniformitarian model, there by eliminating the 1.5 billion years. In order for zircons to retain the observed amount of helium for 1.5 billion years it would have to have been at the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196șC below zero) and is that incompatible with life.
Theoretical bases for nuclear decay.
In the conventional theory on radioactive decay alpha particles are trapped in nucleus by strong force potential barrier. In radioactive nuclei alpha particles some times tunnel through the barrier. This process has only been treated statistically. It is claimed that quantum mechanics does not allow accelerated decay. This is not really true because, quantum mechanics treats the subatomic world statistically, providing no cause and effect relationship for decay.
One simple case is that a variation in the strong force would change decay rates.
String theory which has extra dimensions curled up to 10-34 m and theoretically decay rates are related to the size of these dimensions. A change the size of these dimensions changes decay rates.
Nikola Tesla; who did a lot of experimental work with Electromagnetism; suggested that some type of ray may trigger radioactive decay. Others have taken up this idea and had proposed what the rays could be. Some suggest neutrinos, since they are associated with nuclear reactions and are detected by triggering a nuclear reaction. If neutrinos or some other agent triggers nuclear decay, then an increase in the presence of this of this agent would accurate nuclear decay.
An interesting mechanism is suggested by General Grand Unification model.
In this model probabilistic behavior such a tunneling is controlled by an intelligent agent, it maters not theoretically if this is an actual being, a preprogrammed algorithm programmed by God, or God's thoughts. In any case God could have simply adjusted the controls governing quantum tunneling so as to speed up nuclear decay for a time.
Dealing with the Heat.
The biggest objection to the possibility of accelerated nuclear decay is the fact that nuclear decay produces heat. If it were accelerated high enough, the heat would cause problems.
Interestingly God gave us the solution about 3,000 years ago, in Psalms 104:2.
This is a reference to the expansion of space described by General Relativity. If accelerated decay had been occurred at the same time as a rapid stretching of space, that would also get rid of the excess heat. So accelerated nuclear decay could have occurred as long as it was accompanied by a rapid expansion of space.
The Bible definitely indicates that such an expansion occurred during the creation week.
An additional expansion could have occurred during the Flood.
Both Dr. Henry Morris and Dr. Russell Humphreys, indicate that David was comparing his own deliverance to the Flood in these verses. Dr. Russell Humphreys goes on to indicate that the reference to "fire out of his mouth devoured" to be an indication that accelerated nuclear decay occurred during the Flood, since the hebrew word translated fire can mean any consuming heat. He also shows that the hebrew word translated "bowed" can mean to stretch out. So this passage seems to indicate both accelerated nuclear decay and an expansion of space during the Flood.
Accelerated nuclear decay is not a theory of desperation as some critics claim but there are both Biblical and scientific support for it. Further more accelerated nuclear decay explains allot more than reconciling detected amounts of nuclear decay with a young Earth., in fact it provides a mechanism for triggering the Flood and more. One sign of a good theory is that it explains more than what it is intended too.
Radiometric Dating Links