Before radiometric dating

rely heavily on the uranium/thorium/lead radiometric dating methods.

Because it is not generally appreciated that the assumptions on which the radiometric estimates are based are a virtually impossible sequence of events, let us refresh our minds on the fundamentals of the method by turning to the hourglass analogy (Fig. This system of measuring time works well providing that: Since radioactive decay constants are believed to be unalterable, the requirement of an absolutely reproducible rate is hopefully met.

Before 1955, ages for the Earth based on uranium/thorium/lead ratios were generally about a billion years younger than the currently popular 4.5 billion years. old Earth is reviewed and deficiencies of the uranium/lead method are discussed.

The basic theory of radiometric dating is briefly reviewed.

It is probably because of this type of evidence for extensive mixing in the alteration zone that Patterson “In view of the evidence for extensive mixing, it would seem contrary to the facts to postulate differing frozen lead/uranium ratios that have existed for billions of years.

The requirements of the assumptions in the lead ore method are so extreme it is unlikely that it should give a correct age.” So they took a different approach.

In 1955 a symposium on radiometric dating was held from which the following was given in the summary: “Radioactive ‘dating’ has been perhaps the most widely publicised of geochemical techniques, but of several known dating methods based on radioactivity, only C-14 dating has developed to the point where it yields consistently reliable ages.Therefore, all one has to do in general terms is to find a radioactive mineral which has been a closed system since the time of mineralization, and for which the amount of the daughter product at the beginning is known, the so-called primordial amount, and the absolute age may be calculated from the present amount of parent and daughter isotopes in the mineral.Briefly, the weakest points in this method are that (a) truly closed systems probably do not exist in nature, “As in the case with radiometric ages determined from almost any rock unit it is impossible to establish unequivocally that the ages reported here reflect the time of original crystallization or emplacement of the bodies from which they are derived.” Before we consider the actual lead/lead isotope data there is one other comment that needs to be made regarding extrapolation of present rates. Five billion years is five million times greater than one thousand years. 2 is 2.5 cm, five million times greater is about 125 km.Since 1955 the estimate for the age of the Earth has been based on the assumption that certain meteorite lead isotope ratios are equivalent to the primordial lead isotope ratios on Earth.In 1972 this assumption was shown to be highly questionable.

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The radiometric dating method is basically an extrapolation of the form shown in Fig. If the decay constant is known with great accuracy, an extrapolation over one or two thousand years may be regarded as quite reasonable. It should be obvious that the further one projects present rates, the more likely one is to be quite wrong. era started about 1955 with the publication of a classic paper by Patterson In spite of cautions and scepticism advised by the authors this number has been widely and enthusiastically accepted and is usually quoted as if the evidence was decisive and conclusive. Lead-206 and lead-207 are known daughter products from the decay of uranium-238 and uranium-235, respectively.

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