Why is radiometric dating accurate

It is an accurate way to date specific geologic events. This is an enormous branch of geochemistry called Geochronology. There are many radiometric clocks and when applied to appropriate materials, the dating can be very accurate. As one example, the first minerals to crystallize condense from the hot cloud of gasses that surrounded the Sun as it first became a star have been dated to plus or minus 2 million years!!

Research Shows Radiometric Dating Still Reliable (Again)

Radiometric dating is a much misunderstood phenomenon. Evolutionists often misunderstand the method, assuming it gives a definite age for tested samples. Creationists also often misunderstand it, claiming that the process is inaccurate. Perhaps a good place to start this article would be to affirm that radiometric dating is not inaccurate. It is certainly incorrect, and it is certainly based on wrong assumptions, but it is not inaccurate. What do I mean? How can something be accurate and yet wrong?

To understand this point, we need to understand what exactly is being measured during a radiometric dating test. One thing that is not being directly measured is the actual age of the sample. It needs to be remembered that observational science can only measure things in the here-and-now, in a manner which can be repeated.

Historical science is concerned with trying to work out what may have happened in a one-off event in the past. The age of a rock sample falls under the heading of historical science, not observational science. So what do the observational scientists in the radiometric dating lab do? Radioactive isotopes are unstable and will decay into more stable isotopes of other elements. One common radiometric dating method is the Uranium-Lead method. This involves uranium isotopes with an atomic mass of This is the most common form of uranium.

It decays by a step process into lead, which is stable. Each step involves the elimination of either an alpha or a beta particle. Therefore the process is:. Each individual atom has a chance of decaying by this process. If you were able to examine just one atom, you would not know whether or not it would decay. The chance of it decaying is not definite, by human standards, and is similar to the chance of rolling a particular number on a dice.

Although we cannot determine what will happen to an individual atom, we can determine what will happen to a few million atoms. This is similar to our dice analogy. We cannot tell what number we will roll in any one shake, but if we rolled 6, dice, the chances are very high that 1, of them would have landed on a six. One dice is unpredictable. Many dice follow a statistically predictable pattern. In the same way, one U atom is unpredictable, but a sample containing many millions of U atoms will be very predictable.

What happens statistically is that half of the available atoms will have decayed in a given period, specific to each radioactive species, called the half-life. For example, if element Aa had a half-life of 1 day and we had 1, lbs. By observing how fast U decays into lead, we can calculate the half-life of U This is a theoretical calculation, and we can therefore determine that the half-life of U is 4.

Remember that the half-life is a statistical measure. Granting that U has a half-life of 4. A very common rock that contains U is granite. If we look at some of the very small zircon crystals in granite, we can accurately measure how much U and Pb the crystal contains. In order to calculate the age of the rock, we need three other pieces of information:. Using the above assumptions, it is calculated that the zircon crystals have an age of about 1. The radioactive decay process above can be seen to produce 8 alpha-particles for each one atom of U The rate of diffusion of helium from a zircon crustal can be measured.

It turns out that this rate of diffusion of helium is compatible with the crystals being about 5, years old, not 1. Although assumptions 2 and 3 are not provable, they actually seem very likely in this particular example. Therefore, it seems that the first assumption must be wrong 1. Remember that we have already said that these experimenters are highly skilled. It is therefore unlikely that the laboratory technicians have made a mistake in their measurements of U or Pb The only possible conclusion, therefore, is that the half-life of U has not been constant throughout the lifetime of the granite and its zircon crystals.

Other radiometric dating methods are based on similar assumptions. If the assumptions cannot be trusted, then the calculations based on them are unsound. It is for this reason that creationists question radiometric dating methods and do not accept their results. Radiometric Dating — Is It Accurate? By Eric Hovind Articles , Intermediate. Radiometric Dating Is Not Inaccurate Perhaps a good place to start this article would be to affirm that radiometric dating is not inaccurate. Therefore the process is: Uranium Decay Equation.

About the Author: Eric Hovind. Eric Hovind grew up immersed in the world of apologetics and following college graduation in , he began full-time ministry. He lives in Pensacola, Florida with his wife Tanya and three children and remains excited about the tremendous opportunity to lead an apologetics ministry in the war against evolution and humanism. Related Posts.

The overall reliability of radiometric dating was addressed in some detail in a recent book by Brent Dalrymple, a premier expert in the field. How can something be accurate and yet wrong? To understand this point, we need to understand what exactly is being measured during a radiometric dating.

Jump to content. Radioactive elements transmute into more stable materials by shooting off particles at a steady rate. For instance, half the mass of carbon, an unstable isotope of carbon, will decay into nitrogen over a period of 5, years. Archaeologists routinely use radiometric dating to determine the age of materials such as ancient campfires and mammoth teeth.

Radiometric dating is a much misunderstood phenomenon.

Radiometric dating of rocks and minerals using naturally occurring, long-lived radioactive isotopes is troublesome for young-earth creationists because the techniques have provided overwhelming evidence of the antiquity of the earth and life. Some so-called creation scientists have attempted to show that radiometric dating does not work on theoretical grounds for example, Arndts and Overn ; Gill but such attempts invariably have fatal flaws see Dalrymple ; York and Dalrymple Other creationists have focused on instances in which radiometric dating seems to yield incorrect results.

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Radiometric dating , radioactive dating or radioisotope dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon , in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay. Together with stratigraphic principles , radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale. By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change. Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.

Radiometric Dating — Is It Accurate?

Seventy years ago, American chemist Willard Libby devised an ingenious method for dating organic materials. His technique, known as carbon dating, revolutionized the field of archaeology. Now researchers could accurately calculate the age of any object made of organic materials by observing how much of a certain form of carbon remained, and then calculating backwards to determine when the plant or animal that the material came from had died. An isotope is a form of an element with a certain number of neutrons, which are the subatomic particles found in the nucleus of an atom that have no charge. While the number of protons and electrons in an atom determine what element it is, the number of neutrons can vary widely between different atoms of the same element. Nearly 99 percent of all carbon on Earth is Carbon, meaning each atom has 12 neutrons in its nucleus. The shirt you're wearing, the carbon dioxide you inhale and the animals and plants you eat are all formed mostly of Carbon Carbon is a stable isotope, meaning its amount in any material remains the same year-after-year, century-after-century. Libby's groundbreaking radiocarbon dating technique instead looked at a much more rare isotope of carbon:

Smith is known as the Father of English Geology.

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.

Accuracy of Fossils and Dating Methods

Many people think that radiometric dating has proved the Earth is millions of years old. Even the way dates are reported e. However, although we can measure many things about a rock, we cannot directly measure its age. For example, we can measure its mass, its volume, its colour, the minerals in it, their size and the way they are arranged. We can crush the rock and measure its chemical composition and the radioactive elements it contains. But we do not have an instrument that directly measures age. Before we can calculate the age of a rock from its measured chemical composition, we must assume what radioactive elements were in the rock when it formed. It may be surprising to learn that evolutionary geologists themselves will not accept a radiometric date unless they think it is correct—i. It is one thing to calculate a date. It is another thing to understand what it means.

Thanks to Fossil Fuels, Carbon Dating Is in Jeopardy. One Scientist May Have an Easy Fix

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Radiometric Dating is Flawed!! Really?? How Old IS the Earth?
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