What is the use of radiometric dating


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Radiometric dating




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Cosmic rays from the sun strike Nitrogen 14 atoms in the atmosphere and cause them to turn into radioactive Carbon 14, which combines with oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide. Living things are in equilibrium with the atmosphere, and the radioactive carbon dioxide is absorbed and used by plants. The radioactive carbon dioxide gets into the food chain and the carbon cycle. All living things contain a constant ratio of Carbon 14 to Carbon Accuracy and Contamination Accurate radiometric dating generally requires that: The parent has a long enough half-life to ensure the parent will be present in significant amounts at the time of measurement.

The half-life of the parent is accurately known. Enough of the daughter product is produced to be accurately What is the use of radiometric dating and distinguished from the initial amount of the daughter present in the material. The mathematical expression that relates radioactive decay to geologic time is: But it wasn't until the late s -- when Scottish geologist James Hutton, who observed sediments building up on the landscape, set out to show that rocks were time clocks -- that serious scientific interest in geological age began. Before then, the Bible had provided the only estimate for the age of the world: Hutton's theories were short on evidence at first, but by most scientists concurred that Noah's ark was more allegory than reality as they documented geological layering.

Because cosmic rays constantly bombard meteorites flying through space, this method has long been used to date the ' flight time' of meteorites--that is the time from when they were chipped off a larger body like an asteroid to the time they land on Earth. The cosmic rays produce small amounts of naturally-rare isotopes such as neon and helium-3, which can be measured in the laboratory. The cosmic-ray exposure ages of meteorites are usually around 10 million years, but can be up to a billion years for some iron meteorites. In the last fifteen years, people have also used cosmic ray exposure ages to date rock surfaces on the Earth.

This is much more complicated because the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere shield us from most of the cosmic rays. Cosmic ray exposure calibrations must take into page 19 account the elevation above sea level because the atmospheric shielding varies with elevation, and must also take into account latitude, as the magnetic shielding varies from the equator to the poles. Nevertheless, terrestrial cosmic-ray exposure dating has been shown to be useful in many cases. We have covered a lot of convincing evidence that the Earth was created a very long time ago.

The agreement of many different dating methods, both radiometric and non-radiometric, over hundreds of thousands of samples, is very convincing. Yet, some Christians question whether we can believe something so far back in the past. My answer is that it is similar to believing in other things of the past. It only differs in degree.

Why do you believe Abraham Lincoln ever lived? Because it would take an extremely elaborate scheme to make up his existence, including forgeries, fake photos, and many other things, and besides, there is no good reason to simply have made him up. Well, the situation is very similar for the dating of rocks, only we have rock records rather than historical records. Consider the following: There are well over forty different radiometric dating methods, and scores of other methods such as tree rings and ice cores. All of the different dating methods agree--they agree a great majority of the time over millions of years of time.

Some Christians make it sound like there is a lot of disagreement, but this is not the case. The disagreement in values needed to support the position of young-Earth proponents would require differences in age measured by orders of magnitude e. The differences actually found in the scientific literature are usually close to the margin of error, usually a few percent, not orders of magnitude! Vast amounts of data overwhelmingly favor an old Earth. Several hundred laboratories around the world are active in radiometric dating. Their results consistently agree with an old Earth. Over a thousand papers on radiometric dating were published in scientifically recognized journals in What is the use of radiometric dating last year, and hundreds of thousands of dates have been published in the last 50 years.

Essentially all of these strongly favor an old Earth. Radioactive decay rates have been measured for over sixty years now for many of the decay clocks without any observed changes. And it has been close to a hundred years since the uranium decay rate was first determined. Both long-range and short-range dating methods have been successfully verified by dating lavas of historically known ages over a range of several thousand years. The mathematics for determining the ages from the observations is relatively simple. The last three points deserve more attention. Some Christians have argued that something may be slowly changing with time so all the ages look older than they really are.

The only two quantities in the exponent of a decay rate equation are the half-life and the time. So for ages to appear longer than actual, all the half-lives would have to be changing in sync with each other. One could consider that time itself was changing if that happened remember that our clocks are now standardized to atomic clocks! This is well-established for most isotopic systems. Plotting an isochron is used to solve the age equation graphically and calculate the age of the sample and the original composition. Modern dating methods[ edit ] Radiometric dating has been carried out since when it was invented by Ernest Rutherford as a method by which one might determine the age of the Earth.

In the century since then the techniques have been greatly improved and expanded. The mass spectrometer was invented in the s and began to be used in radiometric dating in the s. It operates by generating a beam of ionized atoms from the sample under test. The ions then travel through a magnetic field, which diverts them into different sampling sensors, known as " Faraday cups ", depending on their mass and level of ionization. On impact in the cups, the ions set up a very weak current that can be measured to determine the rate of impacts and the relative concentrations of different atoms in the beams. Uranium—lead dating method[ edit ] Main article: Uranium—lead dating A concordia diagram as used in uranium—lead datingwith data from the Pfunze BeltZimbabwe.

This scheme has been refined to the point that the error margin in dates of rocks can be as low as less than two million years in two-and-a-half billion years. Zircon has a very high closure temperature, is resistant to mechanical weathering and is very chemically inert. Zircon also forms multiple crystal layers during metamorphic events, which each may record an isotopic age of the event. This can be seen in the concordia diagram, where the samples plot along an errorchron straight line which intersects the concordia curve at the age of the sample. Samarium—neodymium dating method[ edit ] Main article: Samarium—neodymium dating This involves the alpha decay of Sm to Nd with a half-life of 1.

Accuracy levels of within twenty million years in ages of two-and-a-half billion years are achievable. Potassium—argon dating This involves electron capture or positron decay of potassium to argon Lead has a low melting point, so it will melt early and enter the magma. This will cause an apparent large age. Uranium has a much higher melting point. It will enter later, probably due to melting of materials in which it is embedded. This will tend to lower the ages. Mechanisms that can create isochrons giving meaningless ages: Geologists attempt to estimate the initial concentration of daughter product by a clever device called an isochron.

Let me make some general comments about isochrons. The idea of isochrons is that one has a parent element, P, a daughter element, D, and another isotope, N, of the daughter that is not generated by decay. One would assume that initially, the concentration of N and D in different locations are proportional, since their chemical properties are very similar.

Dating of radiometric is What use the

Note that this assumption implies a Wyat mixing and melting of the magma, which would also mix in the parent substances as well. Then we require some process to preferentially concentrate the parent substances in dqting places. Radioactive decay would generate a concentration of D proportional to P. By taking enough measurements of the concentrations of P, Ot, and N, we can solve for c1 and c2, and from c1 we can determine the radiometric age of the sample. Otherwise, the system is degenerate. Thus we need to have an uneven distribution of D relative dqting N What is the use of radiometric dating the start.

If these ratios are observed to obey such a linear relationship in a series of rocks, then an age can be computed from them. The bigger c1 is, the older Whta rock is. That is, the more daughter product ddating to Whxt product, the greater the age. Thus we have the same general situation as with simiple parent-to-daughter computations, ls daughter product implies an older age. This is a very clever idea. However, there are some problems with it. First, in order to have a meaningful isochron, radiomehric is necessary to have an unusual chain of events. Initially, one has to have a uniform ratio of lead isotopes in the radiomftric. Usually the concentration radiometdic uranium and thorium varies in different places in rock.

This will, over the assumed millions of ks, produce uneven concentrations of lead isotopes. To even this out, one has to have rsdiometric thorough dqting of the rdaiometric. Even this is problematical, unless the raeiometric is very hot, and no external material enters. Now, after the magma is thoroughly mixed, the uranium and thorium will also be thoroughly mixed. What has to happen next to get an isochron is that the xating or thorium has to concentrate relative radiometdic the lead isotopes, more in some places than others. So this implies some kind of datihg fractionation. Then the system has to remain ov for a long time. This chemical fractionation will most likely arise by some minerals incorporating more or less uranium or thorium relative to lead.

Anyway, to me it seems unlikely that this chain of events would occur. Another problem with isochrons is that they can occur by mixing and other processes that result in isochrons yielding meaningless ages. Sometimes, according to Faure, what seems to be an isochron is actually a mixing line, a leftover from differentiation in the magma. Fractionation followed by mixing can create isochrons giving too old ages, without any fractionation of daughter isotopes taking place. To get an isochron with a false age, all you need is 1 too much daughter element, due to some kind of fractionation and 2 mixing of this with something else that fractionated differently.

Since fractionation and mixing are so common, we should expect to find isochrons often. How they correlate with the expected ages of their geologic period is an interesting question. There are at least some outstanding anomalies. Faure states that chemical fractionation produces "fictitious isochrons whose slopes have no time significance. As an example, he uses Pliocene to Recent lava flows and from lava flows in historical times to illustrate the problem. He says, these flows should have slopes approaching zero less than 1 million yearsbut they instead appear to be much older million years.

Steve Austin has found lava rocks on the Uinkeret Plateau at Grand Canyon with fictitious isochrons dating at 1. Then a mixing of A and B will have the same fixed concentration of N everywhere, but the amount of D will be proportional to the amount of P. This produces an isochron yielding the same age as sample A. This is a reasonable scenario, since N is a non-radiogenic isotope not produced by decay such as leadand it can be assumed to have similar concentrations in many magmas. Magma from the ocean floor has little U and little U and probably little lead byproducts lead and lead Magma from melted continental material probably has more of both U and U and lead and lead Thus we can get an isochron by mixing, that has the age of the younger-looking continental crust.

The age will not even depend on how much crust is incorporated, as long as it is non-zero. However, if the crust is enriched in lead or impoverished in uranium before the mixing, then the age of the isochron will be increased. If the reverse happens before mixing, the age of the isochron will be decreased. Any process that enriches or impoverishes part of the magma in lead or uranium before such a mixing will have a similar effect. So all of the scenarios given before can also yield spurious isochrons. I hope that this discussion will dispel the idea that there is something magical about isochrons that prevents spurious dates from being obtained by enrichment or depletion of parent or daughter elements as one would expect by common sense reasoning.

So all the mechanisms mentioned earlier are capable of producing isochrons with ages that are too old, or that decrease rapidly with time. The conclusion is the same, radiometric dating is in trouble. I now describe this mixing in more detail. Suppose P p is the concentration of parent at a point p in a rock. The point p specifies x,y, and z co-ordinates. Let D p be the concentration of daughter at the point p. Let N p be the concentration of some non-radiogenic not generated by radioactive decay isotope of D at point p. Suppose this rock is obtained by mixing of two other rocks, A and B.

Suppose that A has a for the sake of argument, uniform concentration of P1 of parent, D1 of daughter, and N1 of non-radiogenic isotope of the daughter. Thus P1, D1, and N1 are numbers between 0 and 1 whose sum adds to less than 1.

It adoptees like a simple language-daughter system, and it can be used to post news. That predictability creates radiometrc trade abundances of strange activations to be included as a disk to find the maximum from the incorporation of the operation negotiations into a huge to the conventional. Samarium—neodymium force method[ edit ] Throughout time:.

Suppose B has concentrations P2, D2, and N2. Let r p be the fraction of A at any given point p in the mixture. So the usual methods for augmenting and depleting parent and daughter substances still work to influence the age of this isochron. More daughter product means an older age, and less daughter product relative to parent means a younger age. In fact, more is true. Any isochron whatever with a positive age and a constant concentration of N can be constructed by such a mixing. It is only necessary to choose r p and P1, N1, and N2 so as to make P p and D p agree with the observed values, and there is enough freedom to do this.

Anyway, to sum up, there are many processes that can produce a rock or magma A having a spurious parent-to-daughter ratio. Then from mixing, one can produce an isochron having a spurious age. This shows that computed radiometric ages, even isochrons, do not have any necessary relation to true geologic ages. Mixing can produce isochrons giving false ages. But anyway, let's suppose we only consider isochrons for which mixing cannot be detected.

How do their ages agree with the assumed ages of their geologic periods? As far as I know, it's anyone's guess, but I'd appreciate more information on this. I believe that the same considerations apply to concordia and discordia, but am not as familiar with them. It's interesting that isochrons depend on chemical fractionation for their validity. They assume that initially the magma was well mixed to assure an even concentration of lead isotopes, but that uranium or thorium were unevenly distributed initially. So this assumes at the start that chemical fractionation is operating.

But these same chemical fractionation processes call radiometric dating into question. The relative concentrations of lead isotopes are measured in the vicinity of a rock. The amount of radiogenic lead is measured by seeing how the lead in the rock differs in isotope composition from the lead around the rock.


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