# What does radiometric dating measure

Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4. Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free. These changes typically occur so slowly that they are barely detectable over the span of a human life, yet even at this instant, the Earth's surface is moving and changing. As these changes have occurred, organisms have evolved, and remnants of some have been preserved as fossils. A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved. However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.

## Dating Rocks and Fossils Using Geologic Methods

See also Counterexamples to an Old Earth. Radiometric dating is a method of determining the age of an artifact by assuming that on average decay rates have been constant see below for the flaws in that assumption and measuring the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred. Because radiometric dating fails to satisfy standards of testability and falsifiability , claims based on radiometric dating may fail to qualify under the Daubert standard for court-admissible scientific evidence.

It is more accurate for shorter time periods e. There are a number of implausible assumptions involved in radiometric dating with respect to long time periods. One key assumption is that the initial quantity of the parent element can be determined. With uranium-lead dating, for example, the process assumes the original proportion of uranium in the sample. One assumption that can be made is that all the lead in the sample was once uranium, but if there was lead there to start with, this assumption is not valid, and any date based on that assumption will be incorrect too old.

In the case of carbon dating, it is not the initial quantity that is important, but the initial ratio of C 14 to C 12 , but the same principle otherwise applies. Recognizing this problem, scientists try to focus on rocks that do not contain the decay product originally. For example, in uranium-lead dating, they use rocks containing zircon ZrSiO 4 , though it can be used on other materials, such as baddeleyite.

Zircon has a very high closure temperature, is very chemically inert, and is resistant to mechanical weathering. For these reasons, if a rock strata contains zircon, running a uranium-lead test on a zircon sample will produce a radiometric dating result that is less dependent on the initial quantity problem. Another assumption is that the rate of decay is constant over long periods of time, which is particularly implausible as energy levels changed enormously over time.

There is no reason to expect that the rate of decay of a radioactive material is largely constant, [3] and it was almost certainly not constant near the creation or beginning of the universe. As early as of , John Ray, an English naturalist, reckoned with alternative that "im the primitive times and soon after the Creation the earth suffered far more concussions and mutations in its superficial part than afterward". Atoms consist of a heavy central core called the nucleus surrounded by clouds of lightweight particles electrons , called electron shells.

The energy locked in the nucleus is enormous, but cannot be released easily. The phenomenon we know as heat is simply the jiggling around of atoms and their components, so in principle a high enough temperature could cause the components of the core to break out. However, the temperature required to do this is in in the millions of degrees, so this cannot be achieved by any natural process that we know about. The second way that a nucleus could be disrupted is by particles striking it.

However, the nucleus has a strong positive charge and the electron shells have a strong negative charge. Any incoming negative charge would be deflected by the electron shell and any positive charge that penetrated the electron shells would be deflected by the positive charge of the nucleus itself. Particles consist of various subtypes. Those that can decay are mesons and baryons , which include protons and neutrons ; although decays can involve other particles such as photons , electrons , positrons , and neutrinos.

This can happen due to one of three forces or "interactions": Historically, these are also known as alpha, gamma, and beta decays, respectively. For example, a neutron-deficient nucleus may decay weakly by converting a proton in a neutron to conserve its positive electric charge, it ejects a positron, as well as a neutrino to conserve the quantum lepton number ; thus the hypothetical atom loses a proton and increments down the table by one element.

A complex set of rules describes the details of particle decays: Decays are very random, but for different elements are observed to conform to statistically averaged different lifetimes. If you had an ensemble of identical particles, the probability of finding a given one of them still as they were - with no decay - after some time is given by the mathematical expression.

This governs what is known as the "decay rate. This makes different elements useful for different time scales of dating; an element with too short an average lifetime will have too few particles left to reveal much one way or another of potentially longer time scales. Hence, elements such as potassium, which has an average lifetime of nearly 2 billion years before decaying into argon, are useful for very long time scales, with geological applications such as dating ancient lava flows or Martian rocks.

Carbon, on the other hand, with a shorter mean lifetime of over years, is more useful for dating human artifacts. Atoms themselves consist of a heavy central core called the nucleus surrounded by arrangements of electron shells , wherein there are different probabilities of precisely locating a certain number of electrons depending on the element. One way that a nucleus could be disrupted is by particles striking it. This interpretation unfortunately fails to consider observed energetic interactions, including that of the strong force, which is stronger the electromagnetic force.

It is important that the sample not have had any outside influences. One example of this can be found in metamorphic rocks. For example, with Uranium-lead dating with the crystallization of magma, this remains a closed system until the uranium decays. As it decays, it disrupts the crystal and allows the lead atom to move. Likewise, heating the rock such as granite forms gneiss or basalt forms schist. This can also disrupt the ratios of lead and uranium in the sample. In order to calibrate radiometric dating methods, the methods need to be checked for accuracy against items with independently-known dates.

Carbon dating, with its much lower maximum theoretical range, is often used for dating items only hundreds and thousands of years old, so can be calibrated in its lower ranges by comparing results with artifacts who's ages are known from historical records. Scientists have also attempted to extend the calibration range by comparing results to timber which has its age calculated by dendrochronology , but this has also been questioned because carbon dating is used to assist with working out dendrochronological ages.

Otherwise, calibration consists of comparing results with ages determined by other radiometric dating methods. However, tests of radiometric dating methods have often shown that they do not agree with known ages of rocks that have been seen to form from volcanic eruptions in recent and historic times, and there are also examples of radiometric dating methods not agreeing with each other. Young earth creationists therefore claim that radiometric dating methods are not reliable and can therefore not be used to disprove Biblical chronology.

Although radiometric dating methods are widely quoted by scientists , they are inappropriate for aging the entire universe due to likely variations in decay rates. Scientists insist that Earth is 4. A geological guidebook published by the Queensland government acknowledges that the dates are not absolute, but must be interpreted:.

One example of scientists not accepting radiometric dates is that of Mungo Man , a human fossil from New South Wales. When originally found, it was dated by radiocarbon dating at around 30, years old. This was later revised to 40, years. Another scientist later used other methods to derive a date of 62, years. The original discoverer, unconvinced by this result, used a different method again, and again came up with a date of 40, years. The fallibility of dating methods is also illustrated by the fact that dating laboratories are known to improve the likelihood of getting a "correct" date by asking for the expected date of the item.

For example, the Sample Record Sheet for the University of Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory asks for the estimated age, the basis for the estimate, and the maximum and minimum acceptable ages. There are several major types of radiometric dating in use: No method exists for measuring time , except by measuring it as it is passing.

Therefore, the age of an artifact must be calculated. The basic principle in any dating method is to find a process that is occurring at a measurable rate and which is causing a change, measure the rate of that process, work out what state the artifact was in at the beginning of the process, observe what state it is in now, and to calculate how long the process at the measured rate would need to occur to effect that change.

For example, to work out how long a candle has been burning, the following steps would be needed:. For most radiometric dating methods, one radioactive element changes by a process of nuclear decay into another element often through a number of intermediate steps. For example, uranium will eventually decay into lead. So to measure how old a specimen containing some uranium and some lead is, the following steps are required:. Radiometric dating From Conservapedia.

Jump to: South African Journal of Geology 1: See Walker, Sibley, Andrew August Variable radioactive decay rates and the changes in solar activity. Creation Ministries International from the Journal of Creation 27 2: Retrieved January 4, Wieland, Carl. RATE group reveals exciting breakthroughs! Walker, Tas April Radioactive decay rate depends on chemical environment. Creation Ministries International from the Journal of Creation 14 1: Woodmorappe, John August Billion-fold acceleration of radioactivity demonstrated in laboratory.

Creation Ministries International from the Journal of Creation 15 2: Thomas, Brian August 5, Radioactive Decay Rates Not Stable. Institute for Creation Research. Snelling, Andrew A. October 1, Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions. Answers in Genesis. Knapp, Alex May 3, When Geologists Where Historians, Cornell University Press, ISBN Quoted in Lamb, Retrieved from " https: Earth Sciences Radioactivity Physics.

## However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around. So, we rely on radiometric dating to. Radiometric dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or by the decay, both of which are quantities that can be measured.

Geologists use radiometric dating to estimate how long ago rocks formed, and to infer the ages of fossils contained within those rocks. Radioactive elements decay The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements. Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms. When molten rock cools, forming what are called igneous rocks, radioactive atoms are trapped inside. Afterwards, they decay at a predictable rate.

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See also Counterexamples to an Old Earth. Radiometric dating is a method of determining the age of an artifact by assuming that on average decay rates have been constant see below for the flaws in that assumption and measuring the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred.

## Radiometric dating

Radiometric dating involves quantifying the amount of carbon present by measuring the emitted beta particles from its radioactive decay. Gas proportional counting involves converting samples to CO 2 gas followed by detection and counting of the beta particles. Liquid scintillation counting involves converting the sample into a carbon-rich liquid, which is then added to a scintillator. When beta particles are emitted, the scintillator will emit a flash of light. When both of the detectors present pick up the flash, it is counted and used to calculate the amount of carbon present.

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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!! That is pretty accurate!!! Other events on earth can be dated equally well given the right minerals. For example, a problem I have worked on involving the eruption of a volcano at what is now Naples, Italy, occurred years ago with a plus or minus of years. Yes, radiometric dating is a very accurate way to date the Earth.

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.

Home earth Earth History Geologist Radioactive. Read about How do we know the Age of the Earth?

## Radiometric Dating: Methods, Uses & the Significance of Half-Life

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How Does Radiocarbon Dating Work? - Instant Egghead #28