Mt st helens disproves carbon dating
On May 18, , Mt St Helens erupted with intensity that not only shook the things around its environment more so than any other volcanic eruption worldwide that year but it also shook a new reality for scientists known as catastrophic geology. In a mere three hours, 25 feet out of feet was accumulated. It was deposited by pyroclastic flows produced by the eruption plume of debris over the volcano. The strata contained thin laminae and cross bedding. On this 30th anniversary of the eruption we see differences between creationists and evolutionists on what we have learned from Mt St Helens.
30 Years Later, the Lessons from Mount St. Helens
Members Portal. Young Earthers point to an infamous dating error as evidence that the Earth is only as old as the Bible says. Today we're going to point our skeptical eye at one of the key players in the debate between geologists and Young Earthers over the age of the Earth. In June of , Dr. Steven Austin took a sample of dacite from the new lava dome inside Mount St.
Helens, the volcano in Washington state. The dacite sample was known to have been formed from a magma flow, and so its actual age was an established fact. Austin submitted the sample for radiometric dating to an independent laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The results came back dating the rock to , years old, with certain compounds within it as old as 2. Austin's conclusion is that radiometric dating is uselessly unreliable.
Critics found that Dr. Austin chose a dating technique that is inappropriate for the sample tested, and charged that he deliberately used the wrong experiment in order to promote the idea that science fails to show that the Earth is older than the Bible claims. Yet the experiment remains as one of the cornerstones of the Young Earth movement. Of most people who have heard of this incident before, that's probably about the total depth of what they've heard. And there's pretty good reason for this: Geology dating is pretty complicated, and if you look at Dr.
Austin's paper or at any scholarly criticism of it, your eyes will quickly glaze over from the extraordinary detail and intricacy. So I thought this would be a great place to point Skeptoid's skeptical eye, and see how much of the chaff we can cut through to see what the bare facts of the case really are. Obviously both sides of this debate have agendas to promote, and that means that any summary you're likely to read was probably motivated by one agenda or the other.
Let's begin with a basic understanding of the radiometric dating technique used, K-Ar, or potassium-argon. This dating technique depends on the fact that the radioactive isotope of potassium, 40 K, naturally decays into other elements, as do all unstable radioactive elements. There are two ways that this happens to 40 K. About 89 percent of the time, a neutron inside the 40 K undergoes beta decay, in which the neutron decays into a proton and an electron. This gain of a proton turns the potassium into calcium.
But about 11 percent of the time, an extra proton inside the 40 K captures one of its electrons and merges with it, turning the proton into a neutron and a neutrino, and converting the potassium into argon. In both events, the atomic mass remains unchanged, but the number of protons changes, thus turning the element from one to another.
This happens to 40 K everywhere in the universe that it exists, and at the same rate, which is a half-life of 1. This means that if you have atoms of 40 K, 1. You'll also have 83 argon atoms, and calcium atoms. If I take a sample and measure an argon to potassium ratio of However, all of these numbers are probabilities, not absolutes. You need to have a statistically meaningful amount of argon before your result would be considered significant.
Below about 10, years , potassium-argon results are not significant; there's not yet enough argon created. In addition, the initial amount of 40 K that you started with is never measured directly; instead, it is assumed to always be. This has a standard deviation, so it also contributes to the margin of error.
So when my result says the sample was 2. The bell curve of probable age starts at about 1. So whether you call it an exact science or not is a matter of linguistics. Although the exact age can't be known, the probabilities can be exactly calculated. Since Dr. Austin's sample was known to have solidified in , its argon content was clearly well below the threshhold where an amount of argon sufficiently useful for dating could have been present. And even that threshhold applies to only the most sensitive detection equipment.
Potassium-argon dating is done by destructively crushing and heating the sample and spectrally analyzing the resulting gases. The equipment in use at the time at the lab employed by Dr. Austin, Geocron Laboratories , was of a type sensitive enough to only detect higher concentrations of argon gas. Geocron clearly stated that their equipment was only capable of accurate results when the sample contained a concentration of argon high enough to be consistent with 2,, years or older.
And so, by any standard, it was scientifically meaningless for Dr. Austin to apply Geocron's potassium-argon dating to his sample of dacite known to be only six years old. But let's ask the obvious question. If there wasn't yet enough argon in the rock to be detectable, and the equipment that was used was not sensitive enough to detect any argon, how was enough argon found that such old results were returned? There are two possible reasons that the old dates were returned.
The first has to do with the reason Geocron's equipment was considered useful only for high concentrations of argon. There would always be a certain amount of argon inside the mass spectrometer left over from previous experiments. If the sample being tested is old enough to have significant argon, this leftover contamination would be statistically insignificant; so this was OK for Geocron's normal purposes.
But for a sample with little or no argon, it would produce a falsely old result. This was undoubtedly a factor in Dr. Austin's results. The second possibility is that so-called "excess argon" could have become trapped in the Mount St. Helens magma. This is where we find the bulk of the confusing complexity in Austin's paper and in those of his critics.
The papers all go into great detail describing the various ways that argon-containing compounds can be incorporated into magma. These include the occlusion of xenoliths and xenocrysts, which are basically contaminants from existing old rocks that get mixed in with the magma; and phenocrysts, which are crystals of all sorts of different minerals that form inside the rock in different ways depending on how quickly the magma cools.
Page after page of chemical compositions, mineral breakdowns, charts and graphs, and all sorts of discussion of practically every last molecule found in the Mount St. Helens dacite. Summarizing both arguments, Dr. Austin claims that xenoliths and xenocrysts were completely removed from the samples before testing, and that the wrong results are due to phenocrysts, which form to varying degrees in all magma, and thus effectively cast doubt on all potassium-argon testing done throughout the world.
It's important to note that his arguments are cogent and are based on sound geology, and are often mischaracterized by skeptics. He did not simply use the wrong kind of radiometric dating as an ignorant blunder. He was deliberately trying to illustrate that even a brand-new rock would show an ancient age, even when potassium-argon dating was properly used.
Austin's critics charge that he ignored the probable likelihood that the limitations of Geochron's equipment accounts for the results, just as Geochron warned. They also charge that he likely did not remove all the xenoliths and xenocrysts from his samples. However, neither possibility can be known for sure. Certainly there is no doubt that the test was far outside the useful parameters of potassium-argon dating, but whereas critics say this invalidates the results, Austin concludes that his results certify that the test is universally useless.
If we allow both sides to have their say, and do not bring a bias preconditioning us to accept whatever one side says and to look only for flaws in the other side, a fair conclusion to make is that both sides make valid points. Austin does indeed identify a real potential weakness in potassium-argon dating. However he is wrong that his phenocrysts constitute a fatal flaw in potassium-argon dating previously unknown to geology.
In fact, the implications of phenocrysts were already well understood. Yes they are one of the variables, and yes, in some samples they do push the error bars. However, the errors they introduce are in the range of a standard deviation, they are not nearly adequate to explain errors as gross as three or more orders of magnitude, which would be necessary to explain the discrepancy between the measured age of rocks and the Biblical age of the Earth.
Such variables are also a principal reason that geologists never rely on just one dating method, with no checks or balances. That would be pretty reckless. For most rocks, multiple types of radiometric dating are appropriate; and in practice, multiple samples would always be tested, not just one like Austin used.
In combination, these tests give a far more complete and accurate picture of a rock's true age than just a single potassium-argon test could. In addition, stratigraphic and paleomagnetic data can often contribute to the picture as well. From many decades of such experience, geologists have excellent data that guides proper usage of each of these tools, and they don't include gross misuse of potassium-argon dating.
What Austin did was to exploit a known caveat in radiometric dating; dramatically illustrate it with a high-profile test using the public's favorite volcano, Mount St. Helens; and sensationalize the results in a paper that introduces nothing new to geologists, but that impresses laypeople with its detailed scientific language. Occasionally scientists do actually make huge discoveries that everyone else in their field had always missed, but such claims are wrong far more often than they're right; and Dr.
Austin and his finding that radiometric dating has always been useless is a perfect example. Please contact us with any corrections or feedback. Cite this article: Dunning, B. Helens Lava Dome? Skeptoid Media, 24 Mar Austin, S. Helens Volcano. Dalrymple, G. Dosseto, A. Timescales of Magmatic Processes:
The Lava Dome at Mount St Helens Debunks Dating Methods . How then can we accept radiometric-dating results on rocks of unknown age?. Because radiometric dating utterly refutes their biblical interpretations, Although Swenson accompanied Austin on a trip to Mt. St. Helens, there is no indication.
Members Portal. Young Earthers point to an infamous dating error as evidence that the Earth is only as old as the Bible says. Today we're going to point our skeptical eye at one of the key players in the debate between geologists and Young Earthers over the age of the Earth.
Young-Earth Creationist 'Dating' of a Mt. Helens Dacite:
The stirring on the mount
Any method of dating samples is a popular topic of attack in the Young Earth Creationist front. After all, the age of the earth makes or breaks their case. A popular example among them is Mt. It was mentioned to me rather enthusiastically tonight that a pastor is doing a series on creationism. I was told that all methods of dating are false, and that rocks spewed from Mt. Helens were dated anywhere from 30, to a couple million years old.
Mount St. Helens: a case against Evolution
Rocks and fossils do not come with dates on them. In fact, the very concept of strata representing long ages does not come from the rock strata themselves. That concept began with eighteenth-century French naturalist Georges Cuvier, picked up steam with Charles Lyell, and it has been in vogue ever since. This is despite the fact that it causes more problems for interpreting rock strata than it solves. And today we know through lab experiments and natural disasters such as the eruption of Mt. Helens that major layering of rock strata can happen catastrophically in a short period of time. The resulting rock strata may harbor fossils from a particular habitat area or ecosystem, but do not represent a particular age or era. Why else do we find marine fossils on the tops of all the major mountain ranges? An examination of sedimentary rocks worldwide shows a striking consistency with the unimaginably massive Flood that wiped out whole environments. It caused massive sedimentary layering and sorting and fossilizing of the creatures buried therein.
On May 18, , a tremendous landslide on the northern side of Mount St. Helens in Washington state uncapped a violent volcanic eruption, completely altering the surrounding landscape.
You can see the mountain! Lloyd Anderson springs ahead of the small group of visitors he has been leading through Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Reaching a small observational clearing, he sweeps his arm toward the horizon and bounces with excitement as he waits for the group — Forest Carnine, a cattle rancher from Angora, Neb.
How Old Is the Mount St. Helens Lava Dome?
Facts and Science against Evolution: Mount St. Helens is located in Washington State and is said by the U. Helens began to spew ash and steam, marking the first significant eruption in the conterminous United States since … The crown of the ash column rose to about 6, feet above the volcano. PDT, apparently in response to a magnitude 5. Helens suddenly began to collapse, triggering a rapid and tragic train of events that resulted in widespread devastation and the loss of 57 people, including volcanologist Johnston. Over the course of the day, prevailing winds blew million tons of ash eastward across the United States and caused complete darkness in Spokane, Washington, miles from the volcano… ash fell visibly as far eastward as the Great Plains of the Central United States, more than miles away. The ash cloud spread across the U. Helens erupted with a catastrophic Lateral blast explosion estimated to be the equivalent to about 24 megatons million tons of TNT note: A sonar scan of the bottom of the lake revealed about 19, upright trees on the bottom of the lake. Point 1:
.Scuba Diving at Mount St. Helens : Beyond Is Genesis History? Clip