Reliability of Geologic Dating

Acknowledgements Introduction his document discusses the way radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are used to establish the conventional geological time scale. It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their application, and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already refer to “Other Sources” for more information. As an example of how they are used, radiometric dates from geologically simple, fossiliferous Cretaceous rocks in western North America are compared to the geological time scale. To get to that point, there is also a historical discussion and description of non-radiometric dating methods. A common form of criticism is to cite geologically complicated situations where the application of radiometric dating is very challenging. These are often characterised as the norm, rather than the exception.

Can I donate my fossil collection to the USGS

Geologic Column ,” we covered how the geologic column is made up from pure imagination, so what did the quote just tell us? They throw out an age they get if it doesn’t line up with their geologic column, or more simply put, they throw out a date they get if it doesn’t line up with how old they already think it is! Let’s say an evolutionist gets radiometric dates of an object, and the lab will pull back all sorts of wild numbers, lets say ranging from.

The most widely known form of radiometric dating is carbon is what archaeologists use to determine the age of human-made artifacts. But carbon dating won’t work on dinosaur bones. The half-life of carbon is only 5, years, so carbon dating is only effective on samples that are less than 50, years old.

Unlike the radioactive isotopes discussed above, these isotopes are constantly being replenished in small amounts in one of two ways. The bottom two entries, uranium and thorium , are replenished as the long-lived uranium atoms decay. These will be discussed in the next section. The other three, Carbon , beryllium , and chlorine are produced by cosmic rays–high energy particles and photons in space–as they hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Very small amounts of each of these isotopes are present in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

As a result, living things, both plants and animals, ingest very small amounts of carbon , and lake and sea sediments take up small amounts of beryllium and chlorine

The Radiometric Dating Game

In this article we shall discuss how fossils can be used for the purposes of absolute dating. Fossils and dating[ edit ] We have already discussed the construction of the geological column. If our stratigraphic methods show that fossil A was always deposited below fossil B whenever we are in a position to compare their dates of deposition, then we can conclude that species A is older than species B.

We can apply the same sort of reasoning to the stratigraphic relationships of fossils and datable rocks. For example, suppose that using stratigraphic methods , we can show that a particular fossil is always older than rocks which are 14 million years old or less, and always younger than rocks which are 16 million years old or more, whenever we are in a position to make a comparison.

Based on this, he claims that radiometric dating methods don’t produce consistent results, that geologists conceal radiometric dates which don’t match what’s expected, and that therefore the whole methodology of radiometric dating is worthless.

Divisions of geologic time Bookmark DescriptionThis bookmark, designed for use with U. Geological Survey, , Divisions of geologic time reprinted October Geological Survey General Information Product , a bookmark, https: Geological Survey USGS researchers are at the forefront of paleoclimate research, the study of past climates. With their unique skills and perspective, only geologists have the tools necessary to delve into the distant past long before instrumental records were collected in order to better understand global environmental conditions that Most of the evidence for an ancient Earth is contained in the rocks that form the Earth’s crust.

The rock layers themselves – like pages in a long and complicated history – record the events of the past, and buried within them are the remains of life – the plants A geologic time scale is composed of standard stratigraphic divisions based on rock sequences and calibrated in years. Over the years, the development of new dating methods and refinement of previous ones have This vast span of time, called geologic time by earth scientists, is difficult to comprehend in the familiar time units of months and years, or even centuries.

How then do scientists reckon geologic time, and why do they believe the Earth is so old?


The bone was 68 million years old, and conventional wisdom about fossilization is that all soft tissue, from blood to brains , decomposes. Only hard parts, like bones and teeth, can become fossils. But for some people, the discovery raised a different question. How do scientists know the bones are really 68 million years old? Today’s knowledge of fossil ages comes primarily from radiometric dating, also known as radioactive dating.

Carbon dating is a brilliant way for archaeologists to take advantage of the natural ways that atoms decay. Unfortunately, humans are on the verge of messing things up.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that creationists at the Institute for Creation Research ICR have been trying desperately to discredit this method for years. They have their work cut out for them, however, because radiocarbon C dating is one of the most reliable of all the radiometric dating methods. This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters.

How does carbon dating work? Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen N into carbon C or radiocarbon. Living organisms are constantly incorporating this C into their bodies along with other carbon isotopes. When the organisms die, they stop incorporating new C , and the old C starts to decay back into N by emitting beta particles.

The older an organism’s remains are, the less beta radiation it emits because its C 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 decays with a half-life of 5, years. Kieth and Anderson radiocarbon-dated the shell of a living freshwater mussel and obtained an age of over two thousand years.

ICR creationists claim that this discredits C dating. How do you reply? It does discredit the C dating of freshwater mussels, but that’s about all.

Age Dating, Educational Resources for K

Its energy is found in fossil fuels as well as all living things. There is a great deal of information and enthusiasm today about the development and increased production of our global energy needs from alternative energy sources. Solar energy, wind power and moving water are all traditional sources of alternative energy that are making progress. The enthusiasm everyone shares for these developments has in many ways created a sense of complacency that our future energy demands will easily be met.

Alternative energy is an interesting concept when you think about it. In our global society, it simply means energy that is produced from sources other than our primary energy supply:

Evolution theory problems – the problem is dating methods? Could the issue with fossil dating by molecular clocks perhaps show that genetic mutations can be slowed down or increased? If these results could be effected then could Earth clocks by Isotope analysis of things like carbon dating .

This grade activity introduces students to age dating with exercises using relative and absolute dating. Geology and Geologic Time. Geological Society of America. Links to various activities and lesson plans concerning relative and absolute dating. Sequencing Time , University of California, Berkeley. This grade activity lets students place parts of their own life story into a time line so that they can better understand how geologic time is reconstructed by scientists.

Who’s on First , University of California, Berkeley. This grade activity introduces students to the idea of sequencing information in overlapping data sets and the Principle of Superposition, which is a core concept in relative dating. This website is a book chapter about geologic time. Offers history of age dating, stratigraphic principles, rock correlation, fossil correlations, radiometric dating, and the geologic time scale. The site provides background information about stratigraphic principles and relative time, biostratigraphy using fossils for relative dating , and radiometric dating.

ESR dating of marine fossil shells

February 8, Paleontologists who study fossils think the first modern birds evolved from dinosaurs about 60 million to 65 million years ago, right about the time most dinosaurs went extinct. But biologists who investigate DNA measure the origin of birds at about million years ago. Scientists hoped that a new study analyzing all of the available genetic data with new statistical models might narrow the gap, but instead it has reinforced it and definitively put the DNA-dating estimate at million years ago.

Interweaving the relative time scale with the atomic time scale poses certain problems because only certain types of rocks, chiefly the igneous variety, can be dated directly by radiometric methods; but these rocks do not ordinarily contain fossils.

Correlation Principles and techniques Correlation is, as mentioned earlier, the technique of piecing together the informational content of separated outcrops. When information derived from two outcrops is integrated , the time interval they represent is probably greater than that of each alone. This optimistic hope, however, must be tempered by the realization that much of the Precambrian record—older than million years—is missing. Correlating two separated outcrops means establishing that they share certain characteristics indicative of contemporary formation.

The most useful indication of time equivalence is similar fossil content, provided of course that such remains are present. The basis for assuming that like fossils indicate contemporary formation is faunal succession. However, as previously noted, times of volcanism and metamorphism, which are both critical parts of global processes, cannot be correlated by fossil content. Furthermore, useful fossils are either rare or totally absent in rocks from Precambrian time , which constitutes more than 87 percent of Earth history.

Precambrian rocks must therefore be correlated by means of precise isotopic dating. Unlike the principles of superposition and crosscutting, faunal succession is a secondary principle. That is to say, it depends on other sequence-determining principles for establishing its validity. Suppose there exist a number of fossil-bearing outcrops each composed of sedimentary layers that can be arranged in relative order, primarily based on superposition.

Suppose, too, that all the layers contain a good representation of the animal life existing at the time of deposition. From an examination of such outcrops with special focus on the sequence of animal forms comes the empirical generalization that the faunas of the past have followed a specific order of succession, and so the relative age of a fossiliferous rock is indicated by the types of fossils it contains.

Absolute Dating Problems Worksheet Answers

In the remainder of this chapter, we will consider each of these 20 dating methods: These three are generally found together in mixtures, and each one decays into several daughter products such as radium before becoming lead. This is very possible, and even likely. It is only an assumption that integral or adjacent lead could only be an end product.

In addition, common lead lead , which has no radioactive parent, could easily be mixed into the sample and would seriously affect the dating of that sample. When a uranium sample is tested for dating purposes, it is assumed that the entire quantity of lead in it is “daughter-product lead” that is, the end-product of the decayed uranium.

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Charred bones are better preserved and are therefore relatively more reliable. Charcoal is best material specially if derived from short live plants. How to collect samples: While collecting samples for radio carbon dating we should take utmost care, and should observe the following principles and methods. Sample should be collected from and undisturbed layer. Deposits bearing, pit activities and overlap of layers are not good for sampling. The excavator himself should collect the sample from an undisturbed area of the site which has a fair soil cover and is free of lay water associated structures like ring wells and soakage pits.


Relative Techniques In the past, relative dating methods often were the only ones available to paleoanthropologists. As a result, it was difficult to chronologically compare fossils from different parts of the world. However, relative methods are still very useful for relating finds from the same or nearby sites with similar geological histories. The oldest and the simplest relative dating method is stratigraphy , or stratigraphic dating.

It is based on the principle of superposition , which is that if there are layers of deposits, those laid down first will be on the bottom and those laid down last will be on the top. This principle is logical and straightforward.

Learn relative dating methods with free interactive flashcards. Choose from different sets of relative dating methods flashcards on Quizlet.

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.

When a single body of liquid rock crystallizes, parent and daughter elements may separate so that, once solid, the isotopic data would define a series of points, such as those shown as open circles designated R1, R2, R3 in Figure 1. With time each would then develop additional daughter abundances in proportion to the amount of parent present. If a number of samples are analyzed and the results are shown to define a straight line within error, then a precise age is defined because this is only possible if each is a closed system and each has the same initial ratio and age.

The uncertainty in determining the slope is reduced because it is defined by many points. A second advantage of the method relates to the fact that under high-temperature conditions the daughter isotopes may escape from the host minerals.


Challenges to Biblical Credibility. Gone are the romantic images of gentlemen in pith helmets carting off treasures to the museums and estates of Europe. Gone, too, is the idea that archaeologists are always on the side of the Bible believer. Modern interpretations frequently challenge biblical accounts.

Older fossils cannot be dated by carbon methods and require radiometric dating. Scientists can use different chemicals for absolute dating: The best-known absolute dating technique is carbon dating, which archaeologists prefer to use.

Atmospheric nuclear weapon tests almost doubled the concentration of 14C in the Northern Hemisphere. One side-effect of the change in atmospheric carbon is that this has enabled some options e. The gas mixes rapidly and becomes evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere the mixing timescale in the order of weeks. Carbon dioxide also dissolves in water and thus permeates the oceans , but at a slower rate.

The transfer between the ocean shallow layer and the large reservoir of bicarbonates in the ocean depths occurs at a limited rate. Suess effect Many man-made chemicals are derived from fossil fuels such as petroleum or coal in which 14C is greatly depleted. Such deposits often contain trace amounts of carbon The presence of carbon in the isotopic signature of a sample of carbonaceous material possibly indicates its contamination by biogenic sources or the decay of radioactive material in surrounding geologic strata.

In connection with building the Borexino solar neutrino observatory, petroleum feedstock for synthesizing the primary scintillant was obtained with low 14C content. The rates of disintegration of potassium and carbon in the normal adult body are comparable a few thousand disintegrated nuclei per second. Carbon can be used as a radioactive tracer in medicine. In the event of a H.

How accurate is radiocarbon dating?