How do we know radiometric dating is reliable

14-Oct-2016 14:56

These basalts yield ages of up to 1 million years based on the amounts of potassium and argon isotopes in the rocks.

But when we date the rocks using the rubidium and strontium isotopes, we get an age of 1.143 billion years.

So geologists have assumed these radioactive decay rates have been constant for billions of years.

However, this is an enormous extrapolation of seven orders of magnitude back through immense spans of unobserved time without any concrete proof that such an extrapolation is credible.

6 The problems with contamination, as with inheritance, are already well-documented in the textbooks on radioactive dating of rocks.7 Unlike the hourglass, where its two bowls are sealed, the radioactive “clock” in rocks is open to contamination by gain or loss of parent or daughter isotopes because of waters flowing in the ground from rainfall and from the molten rocks beneath volcanoes.

Similarly, as molten lava rises through a conduit from deep inside the earth to be erupted through a volcano, pieces of the conduit wallrocks and their isotopes can mix into the lava and contaminate it.

To make matters even worse for the claimed reliability of these radiometric dating methods, these same basalts that flowed from the top of the Canyon yield a samarium-neodymium age of about 916 million years,5 and a uranium-lead age of about 2.6 billion years!

Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .

An hourglass is a helpful analogy to explain how geologists calculate the ages of rocks.

Based on these observations and the known rate of radioactive decay, they estimate the time it has taken for the daughter isotope to accumulate in the rock.

However, unlike the hourglass whose accuracy can be tested by turning it upside down and comparing it to trustworthy clocks, the reliability of the radioactive “clock” is subject to three unprovable assumptions.

8 Physicists have carefully measured the radioactive decay rates of parent radioisotopes in laboratories over the last 100 or so years and have found them to be essentially constant (within the measurement error margins).

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