Can you use carbon dating on rocks

carbon dating

These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock, and inferring an age based on this ratio. This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance say, uranium gradually decays to the daughter substance say, lead , so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.

While there are many problems with such dating methods, such as parent or daughter substances entering or leaving the rock, e. Geologists assert that generally speaking, older dates are found deeper down in the geologic column, which they take as evidence that radiometric dating is giving true ages, since it is apparent that rocks that are deeper must be older.

Radiometric dating - Wikipedia

But even if it is true that older radiometric dates are found lower down in the geologic column which is open to question , this can potentially be explained by processes occurring in magma chambers which cause the lava erupting earlier to appear older than the lava erupting later. Lava erupting earlier would come from the top of the magma chamber, and lava erupting later would come from lower down.

A number of processes could cause the parent substance to be depleted at the top of the magma chamber, or the daughter product to be enriched, both of which would cause the lava erupting earlier to appear very old according to radiometric dating, and lava erupting later to appear younger. Other possible confounding variables are the mechanisms that can alter daughter-to-parent ratios.

We can see that many varieties of minerals are produced from the same magma by the different processes of crystallization, and these different minerals may have very different compositions.

It is possible that the ratio of daughter to parent substances for radiometric dating could differ in the different minerals. Clearly, it is important to have a good understanding of these processes in order to evaluate the reliability of radiometric dating. Other confounding factors such as contamination and fractionation issues are frankly acknowledged by the geologic community, but are not taken into consideration when the accuracy and validity of these dating methods are examined.

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The following quotation from Elaine G. Kennedy addresses this problem. Contamination and fractionation issues are frankly acknowledged by the geologic community.

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For example, if a magma chamber does not have homogeneously mixed isotopes, lighter daughter products could accumulate in the upper portion of the chamber. If this occurs, initial volcanic eruptions would have a preponderance of daughter products relative to the parent isotopes. Such a distribution would give the appearance of age.

As the magma chamber is depleted in daughter products, subsequent lava flows and ash beds would have younger dates. Such a scenario does not answer all of the questions or solve all of the problems that radiometric dating poses for those who believe the Genesis account of Creation and the Flood. It does suggest at least one aspect of the problem that could be researched more thoroughly. The problems inherent in radiometric dating often cause them to be so unreliable that they contradict one another rather than validating each other. It would really be nice if geologists would just do a double blind study sometime to find out what the distributions of the ages are.

In practice, geologists carefully select what rocks they will date, and have many explanations for discordant dates, so it's not clear how such a study could be done, but it might be a good project for creationists. There is also evidence that many anomalies are never reported. There are so many complicated phenomena to consider like this that it calls the whole radiometric dating scheme into question. Only then can you gauge the accuracy and validity of that race. We need to observe when the race begins, how the race is run are there variations from the course, is the runner staying within the course, are they taking performance enhancing drugs, etc.

How do geologists use carbon dating to find the age of rocks?

All bases must be covered if we are going to accurately time the race. In addition, the oldest known moon rocks are 4. Since the moon and the Earth probably formed at the same time, this supports the current idea of the Earth's age. You can learn more about fossils, dinosaurs, radiometric dating and related topics by reading through the links below. Radiometric dating isn't the only method of determining the age of rocks.

Other techniques include analyzing amino acids and measuring changes in an object's magnetic field. Scientists have also made improvements to the standard radiometric measurements. For example, by using a laser, researchers can measure parent and daughter atoms in extremely small amounts of matter, making it possible to determine the age of very small samples [source: Saber-tooth Kittens Were Big-boned.


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An eagle flies over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, April 5, You can see the layers of sedimentary rock. The rate at which the unstable radioactive C isotope decays into the stable non-radioactive N isotope, The ratio of C to C found in a given specimen, And the ratio C to C found in the atmosphere at the time of the specimen's death.


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  4. Carbon Dating - The Controversy Carbon dating is controversial for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's predicated upon a set of questionable assumptions. We have to assume, for example, that the rate of decay that is, a 5, year half-life has remained constant throughout the unobservable past. However, there is strong evidence which suggests that radioactive decay may have been greatly accelerated in the unobservable past.

    Carbon Dating

    We also know that the ratio decreased during the industrial revolution due to the dramatic increase of CO 2 produced by factories. This man-made fluctuation wasn't a natural occurrence, but it demonstrates the fact that fluctuation is possible and that a period of natural upheaval upon the earth could greatly affect the ratio. Volcanoes spew out CO 2 which could just as effectively decrease the ratio.

    Specimens which lived and died during a period of intense volcanism would appear older than they really are if they were dated using this technique. The ratio can further be affected by C production rates in the atmosphere, which in turn is affected by the amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earth's atmosphere. The amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earth's atmosphere is itself affected by things like the earth's magnetic field which deflects cosmic rays.


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    Precise measurements taken over the last years have shown a steady decay in the strength of the earth's magnetic field.