Can drawbacks of radiometric dating the

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This question requires a very extensive answer to be able to cover all bases here but I'm going to attempt to explain the salient facts. Jump down to summary if you just want to know what both categories of limitations are. The limitations of radiometric dating can be split into two general categories, analytical limitations and natural limitations. Analytical limitations encompass the limitations of the machinery that is being used to date a material. This technique bombards the sample, slowly drawing material out and then sending it through to an ion counter. This is then transformed into isotopic ratios and then used to date the material.

Analytical limitations encompass the limitations of the machinery that is being used to date a material. This technique bombards the sample, slowly drawing material out and then sending it through to an ion counter.

This is then transformed into isotopic ratios and then used to date the material. The machinery you use has to be tuned and calibrated to which isotopes you want to measure and needs to be set with the correct running conditions. Think of it as making a roast dinner, you're going to need to set the oven at the correct temperature and leave it for the right amount of time to achieve the best results.

So you can never have perfect running conditions and certain parameters will change over time, this is just the nature of high-tech machinery. A small shift in a parameter can affect your final outcome. So some analytical limitations can be the beam intensity, counting statistics, dead-time and so on.

These are parameters you can control and will affect how accurate and precise your age-dating is. Don't worry what those parameters mean, just understand they are machine-based. Natural limitations encompass those as a result of nature. For example, you may want to date the same zircon crystals using the U-Pb method. In order to do this, you need to measure various isotopes of uranium U and lead Pb.

Though, when you come to do this measurement you find that uranium concentrations are very low in your sample on the order of a few parts per million. This low concentration will mean your counting statistics will not be as robust and may result in decreased precision. Another limitation is the length of time a decay series can be used for. Another example, you may want to use. Lets say the object is a million years old but as the scientist measuring this object we don't know that and we go to measure it using the C method.

The age we come up with is around 50 years old. The reason it isn't 1 million year old is because the half-life of C is about 5 years, which means after about 50 years there is no more C to measure, hence the limit of that dating technique is about 50 years. All different decay series' have upper and lower limits for which they work effectively. So the million year old object was incorrectly dated using a decay series not suited to it.

Doesn't radiometric dating prove the earth is billions of years old Jim Mason PhD

Recall that olivine is composed of a single tetrahedra and that the other minerals in this sequence are composed of single chains, double chains, and sheet structures, respectively. Ordinarily, these reactions are not complete so that various amounts of each of these minerals may exist at any given time. The right branch of the reaction series is a continuum in which the earliest formed calcium-rich feldspar crystals react with the sodium ions contained in the melt to become progressively more sodium rich.

Oftentimes the rate of cooling occurs rapidly enough to prohibit the complete transformation of calcium-rich feldspar into sodium-rich feldspar.

In these instances, the feldspar crystals will have calcium-rich interiors surrounded by zones that are progressively richer in sodium. During the last stage of crystallization, after most of the magma has solidified, the remaining melt will form the minerals quartz, muscovite mica, and potassium feldspar.

Although these minerals crystallize in the order shown, this sequence is not a true reaction series. Bowen demonstrated that minerals crystallize from magma in a systematic fashion. But how does Bowen's reaction series account for the great diversity of igneous rocks? It appears that at one or more stages in the crystallization process, a separation of the solid and liquid components of a magma frequently occurs.

This can happen, for example, if the earlier formed minerals are heavier than the liquid portion and settle to the bottom of the magma chamber as shown in Figure 3.

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This settling is thought to occur frequently with the dark silicates, such as olivine. When the remaining melt crystallizes, either in place or in a new location if it migrates out of the chamber, it will form a rock with a chemical composition much different from the original magma Figure 3. In many instances the melt which has migrated from the initial magma chamber will undergo further segregation.

As crystallization progresses in the " new" magma, the solid particles may accumulate into rocklike masses surrounded by pockets of the still molten material. It is very likely that some of this melt will be squeezed from the mixture into the cracks which develop in the surrounding rock.

This process will generate an igneous rock of yet another composition. The process involving the segregation of minerals by differential crystallization an separation is called fractional crystallization. At any stage in the crystallization process the melt might be separated from the solid portion of the magma. Consequently, fractional crystallization can produce igneous rocks having a wide range of compositions.

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Bowen successfully demonstrated that through fractional crystallization one magma can generate several different igneous rocks. However, more recent work has indicated that this process cannot account for the relative quantities of the various rock types known to exist. Although more than one rock type can be generated from a single magma, apparently other mechanisms also exist to generate magmas of quite varied chemical compositions.

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We will examine some of these mechanisms at the end of the next chapter. Separation of minerals by fractional crystallization.

Illustration of how the earliest formed minerals can be separated from a magma by settling. The remaining melt could migrate to a number of different locations and, upon further crystallization, generate rocks having a composition much different from the parent magma. Faure discusses fractional crystallization relating to U and Th in his book p.

These values may be taken as an indication of the very low abundance of these elements in the mantle and crust of the Earth. In the course of partial melting and fractional crystallization of magma, U and Th are concentrated in the liquid phase and become incorporated into the more silica-rich products. For that reason, igneous rocks of granitic composition are strongly enriched in U and Th compared to rocks of basaltic or ultramafic composition.

Progressive geochemical differentiation of the upper mantle of the Earth has resulted in the concentration of U and Th into the rocks of the continental crust compared to those of the upper mantle. The concentration of Pb is usually so much higher than U, that a 2- to 3-fold increase of U doesn't change the percent composition much e. Finally, we have a third quotation from Elaine G. Kennedy in Geoscience Reports, SpringNo.

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.

Dating with radioactive carbon becomes increasingly inaccurate as the samples become older. Radiocarbon Dating: Its Limitations and Usefulness "Combining the effects of these two trees, we see a site that was actually occupied for years (from to BCE) appearing - using conventional radiocarbon dating - to have been occupied for. Oct 01,   Radiometric dating is often used to "prove" rocks are millions of years old. Once you understand the basic science, however, you can see how wrong assumptions lead to incorrect dates. Most people think that radioactive dating has proven the earth is billions of years old. Yet this view is based on a misunderstanding of how radiometric dating works. Possible errors in dating isochron 6. Requires highly radiometric specialists 3. No gain or loss of parent or daughter isotopes by any disadvantages are than radioactive decay closed system. Are sources of error such radioometric leakage of daughter product and .

It does suggest at least one ct of the problem that could be researched more thoroughly. So we have two kinds of processes taking place. There are those processes taking place when lava solidifies and various minerals crystallize out at different times. There are also processes taking place within a magma chamber that can cause differences in the composition of the magma from the top to the bottom of the chamber, since one might expect the temperature at the top to be cooler.

Both kinds of processes can influence radiometric dates. In addition, the magma chamber would be expected to be cooler all around its borders, both at the top and the bottom as well as in the horizontal extremities, and these effects must also be taken into account. For example, heavier substances will tend to sink to the bottom of a magma chamber.

Also, substances with a higher melting point will tend to crystallize out at the top of a magma chamber and fall, since it will be cooler at the top. These substances will then fall to the lower portion of the magma chamber, where it is hotter, and remelt. This will make the composition of the magma different at the top and bottom of the chamber. This could influence radiometric dates. This mechanism was suggested by Jon Covey and others. The solubility of various substances in the magma also could be a function of temperature, and have an influence on the composition of the magma at the top and bottom of the magma chamber.

Finally, minerals that crystallize at the top of the chamber and fall may tend to incorporate other substances, and so these other substances will also tend to have a change in concentration from the top to the bottom of the magma chamber.

There are quite a number of mechanisms in operation in a magma chamber. I count at least three so far - sorting by density, sorting by melting point, and sorting by how easily something is incorporated into minerals that form at the top of a magma chamber.

Then you have to remember that sometimes one has repeated melting and solidification, introducing more complications. There is also a fourth mechanism - differences in solubilities. How anyone can keep track of this all is a mystery to me, especially with the difficulties encountered in exploring magma chambers. These will be definite factors that will change relative concentrations of parent and daughter isotopes in some way, and call into question the reliability of radiometric dating. In fact, I think this is a very telling argument against radiometric dating.

Another possibility to keep in mind is that lead becomes gaseous at low temperatures, and would be gaseous in magma if it were not for the extreme pressures deep in the earth. It also becomes very mobile when hot. These processes could influence the distribution of lead in magma chambers. The magnesium and iron rich minerals come from the mantle subducted oceanic plateswhile granite comes from continental sediments crustal rock.

The mantle part solidifies first, and is rich in magnesium, iron, and calcium. So it is reasonable to expect that initially, the magma is rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium and poor in uranium, thorium, sodium, and potassium. Later on the magma is poor in iron, magnesium, and calcium and rich in uranium, thorium, sodium, and potassium.

The Disadvantages Radiocarbon Dating may come in as a very handy tool to utilize, but it also has its flaws. One of the most important flaws is that scientists are only able to date back till 62, years ago. This means that we cannot figure out the age of dinosaur fossils, or any ancient mammals and reptiles. Suppose, icr research has several important advantages and disadvantages of radiometric dating. Radiometric dating organic origin based on analytical results as dendrochronology, chemostratigraphy and uranium give rise to incorrect dates. Feb 29,   The limitations of radiometric dating can be split into two general categories, analytical limitations and natural limitations. Analytical limitations encompass the limitations of the machinery that is being used to date a material. For example, you may want to date a zircon #(ZrSiO_4)# crystal using a secondary ion microprobe (SIMS). This technique bombards the sample, slowly drawing material out .

It doesn't say which class lead is in. But lead is a metal, and to me it looks more likely that lead would concentrate along with the iron.

If this is so, the magma would initially be poor in thorium and uranium and rich in lead, and as it cooled it would become rich in thorium and uranium and poor in lead. Thus its radiometric age would tend to decrease rapidly with time, and lava emitted later would tend to look younger. Another point is that of time. Suppose that the uranium does come to the top by whatever reason.

Perhaps magma that is uranium rich tends to be lighter than other magma. Or maybe the uranium poor rocks crystallize out first and the remaining magma is enriched in uranium.

Would this cause trouble for our explanation? Not necessarily. It depends how fast it happened.

Drawbacks of radiometric dating

Some information from the book Uranium Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Geology provided by Jon Covey gives us evidence that fractionation processes are making radiometric dates much, much too old.

The half life of U is 4. Thus radium is decaying 3 million times as fast as U At equilibrium, which should be attained inyears for this decay series, we should expect to have 3 million times as much U as radium to equalize the amount of daughter produced. Cortini says geologists discovered that ten times more Ra than the equilibrium value was present in rocks from Vesuvius. They found similar excess radium at Mount St.

Helens, Vulcanello, and Lipari and other volcanic sites. The only place where radioactive equilibrium of the U series exists in zero age lavas is in Hawiian rocks. We need to consider the implications of this for radiometric dating.

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How is this excess of radium being produced? This radium cannot be the result of decay of uranium, since there is far too much of it. Either it is the result of an unknown decay process, or it is the result of fractionation which is greatly increasing the concentration of radium or greatly decreasing the concentration of uranium. Thus only a small fraction of the radium present in the lava at most 10 percent is the result of decay of the uranium in the lava. This is interesting because both radium and lead are daughter products of uranium.

If similar fractionation processes are operating for lead, this would mean that only a small fraction of the lead is the result of decay from the parent uranium, implying that the U-Pb radiometric dates are much, much too old. Cortini, in an article appearing in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research also suggests this possibility. He says: "The invalidity of the Th dating method is a consequence of the open-system behaviour of U and Th.

By analogy with the behaviour of Ra, Th and U it can be suggested that Pb, owing to its large mobility, was also fed to the magma by fluids. This can and must be tested.

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The open-system behaviour of Pb, if true, would have dramatic consequences In fact, U and Th both have isotopes of radium in their decay chains with half lives of a week or two, and 6. Any process that is concentrating one isotope of radium will probably concentrate the others as well and invalidate these dating methods, too. Radium has a low melting point degrees K which may account for its concentration at the top of magma chambers.

What radiometric dating needs to do to show its reliability is to demonstrate that no such fractionation could take place. Can this be done? With so many unknowns I don't think so.

How Uranium and Thorium are preferentially incorporated in various minerals I now give evidences that uranium and thorium are incorporated into some minerals more than others.

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This is not necessarily a problem for radiometric dating, because it can be taken into account. But as we saw above, processes that take place within magma chambers involving crystallization could result in a different concentration of uranium and thorium at the top of a magma chamber than at the bottom. This can happen because different minerals incorporate different amounts of uranium and thorium, and these different minerals also have different melting points and different densities.

If minerals that crystallize at the top of a magma chamber and fall, tend to incorporate a lot of uranium, this will tend to deplete uranium at the top of the magma chamber, and make the magma there look older. Concerning the distribution of parent and daughter isotopes in various substances, there are appreciable differences. Faure shows that in granite U is 4. Some process is causing the differences in the ratios of these magmatic rocks. Depending on their oxidation state, according to Faure, uranium minerals can be very soluble in water while thorium compounds are, generally, very insoluble.

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These elements also show preferences for the minerals in which they are incorporated, so that they will tend to be "dissolved" in certain mineral "solutions" preferentially to one another. More U is found in carbonate rocks, while Th has a very strong preference for granites in comparison. I saw a reference that uranium reacts strongly, and is never found pure in nature.

So the question is what the melting points of its oxides or salts would be, I suppose. I also saw a statement that uranium is abundant in the crust, but never found in high concentrations. To me this indicates a high melting point for its minerals, as those with a low melting point might be expected to concentrate in the magma remaining after others crystallized out. Such a high melting point would imply fractionation in the magma. Thorium is close to uranium in the periodic table, so it may have similar properties, and similar remarks may apply to it.

It turns out that uranium in magma is typically found in the form of uranium dioxide, with a melting point of degrees centrigrade. This high melting point suggests that uranium would crystallize and fall to the bottom of magma chambers. Geologists are aware of the problem of initial concentration of daughter elements, and attempt to take it into account.

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U-Pb dating attempts to get around the lack of information about initial daughter concentrations by the choice of minerals that are dated. For example, zircons are thought to accept little lead but much uranium. Thus geologists assume that the lead in zircons resulted from radioactive decay.

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But I don't know how they can be sure how much lead zircons accept, and even they admit that zircons accept some lead. Lead could easily reside in impurities and imperfections in the crystal structure. Also, John Woodmorappe's paper has some examples of anomalies involving zircons.

It is known that the crystal structure of zircons does not accept much lead. However, it is unrealistic to expect a pure crystal to form in nature. Perfect crystals are very rare. In reality, I would expect that crystal growth would be blocked locally by various things, possibly particles in the way.

Then the surrounding crystal surface would continue to grow and close up the gap, incorporating a tiny amount of magma. I even read something about geologists trying to choose crystals without impurities by visual examination when doing radiometric dating.

Thus we can assume that zircons would incorporate some lead in their impurities, potentially invalidating uranium-lead dates obtained from zircons. Chemical fractionation, as we have seen, calls radiometric dates into question. But this cannot explain the distribution of lead isotopes. There are actually several isotopes of lead that are produced by different parent substances uraniumuraniumand thorium.

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One would not expect there to be much difference in the concentration of lead isotopes due to fractionation, since isotopes have properties that are very similar.

So one could argue that any variations in Pb ratios would have to result from radioactive decay. However, the composition of lead isotopes between magma chambers could still differ, and lead could be incorporated into lava as it traveled to the surface from surrounding materials. I also recall reading that geologists assume the initial Pb isotope ratios vary from place to place anyway. Later we will see that mixing of two kinds of magma, with different proportions of lead isotopes, could also lead to differences in concentrations.

Mechanism of uranium crystallization and falling through the magma We now consider in more detail the process of fractionation that can cause uranium to be depleted at the top of magma chambers. Uranium and thorium have high melting points and as magma cools, these elements crystallize out of solution and fall to the magma chamber's depths and remelt. This process is known as fractional crystallization. What this does is deplete the upper parts of the chamber of uranium and thorium, leaving the radiogenic lead.

As this material leaves, that which is first out will be high in lead and low in parent isotopes. This will date oldest. Magma escaping later will date younger because it is enriched in U and Th. There will be a concordance or agreement in dates obtained by these seemingly very different dating methods. This mechanism was suggested by Jon Covey. They show clear drawings of crystallized minerals falling through the magma and explain that the crystallized minerals do indeed fall through the magma chamber.

Further, most minerals of uranium and thorium are denser than other minerals, especially when those minerals are in the liquid phase. Crystalline solids tend to be denser than liquids from which they came. But the degree to which they are incorporated in other minerals with high melting points might have a greater influence, since the concentrations of uranium and thorium are so low.

Now another issue is simply the atomic weight of uranium and thorium, which is high. Any compound containing them is also likely to be heavy and sink to the bottom relative to others, even in a liquid form. If there is significant convection in the magma, this would be minimized, however. At any rate, there will be some effects of this nature that will produce some kinds of changes in concentration of uranium and thorium relative to lead from the top to the bottom of a magma chamber.

Some of the patterns that are produced may appear to give valid radiometric dates. Others may not. The latter may be explained away due to various mechanisms.

Let us consider processes that could cause uranium and thorium to be incorporated into minerals with a high melting point. I read that zircons absorb uranium, but not much lead.

Thus they are used for U-Pb dating. But many minerals take in a lot of uranium. It is also known that uranium is highly reactive.

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To me this suggests that it is eager to give up its 2 outer electrons. This would tend to produce compounds with a high dipole moment, with a positive charge on uranium and a negative charge on the other elements.

This would in turn tend to produce a high melting point, since the atoms would attract one another electrostatically. I'm guessing a little bit here. There are a number of uranium compounds with different melting points, and in general it seems that the ones with the highest melting points are more stable. I would suppose that in magma, due to reactions, most of the uranium would end up in the most stable compounds with the highest melting points.

These would also tend to have high dipole moments.

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Now, this would also help the uranium to be incorporated into other minerals. The electric charge distribution would create an attraction between the uranium compound and a crystallizing mineral, enabling uranium to be incorporated. But this would be less so for lead, which reacts less strongly, and probably is not incorporated so easily into minerals.

So in the minerals crystallizing at the top of the magma, uranium would be taken in more than lead. These minerals would then fall to the bottom of the magma chamber and thus uranium at the top would be depleted. It doesn't matter if these minerals are relatively lighter than others.

The point is that they are heavier than the magma. Two kinds of magma and implications for radiometric dating It turns out that magma has two sources, ocean plates and material from the continents crustal rock. This fact has profound implications for radiometric dating. Mantle material is very low in uranium and thorium, having only 0.

The source of magma for volcanic activity is subducted oceanic plates. Subduction means that these plates are pushed under the continents by motions of the earth's crust. While oceanic plates are basaltic mafic originating from the mid-oceanic ridges due to partial melting of mantle rock, the material that is magma is a combination of oceanic plate material and continental sediments.

Subducted oceanic plates begin to melt when they reach depths of about kilometers See Tarbuck, The Earth, p. In other words, mantle is not the direct source of magma. Further, Faure explains that uraninite UO sub2 is a component of igneous rocks Faure, p. Uraninite is also known as pitchblende. According to plate tectonic theory, continental crust overrides oceanic crust when these plates collide because the continental crust is less dense than the ocean floor.

As the ocean floor sinks, it encounters increasing pressures and temperatures within the crust. Ultimately, the pressures and temperatures are so high that the rocks in the subducted oceanic crust melt. Once the rocks melt, a plume of molten material begins to rise in the crust. As the plume rises it melts and incorporates other crustal rocks. This rising body of magma is an open system with respect to the surrounding crustal rocks.

Volatiles e. It is possible that these physical processes have an impact on the determined radiometric age of the rock as it cools and crystallizes. Time is not a direct measurement. The actual data are the ratios of parent and daughter isotopes present in the sample. Time is one of the values that can be determined from the slope of the line representing the distribution of the isotopes.

Isotope distributions are determined by the chemical and physical factors governing a given magma chamber. Rhyolites in Yellowstone N. Most genetic models for uranium deposits in sandstones in the U. Most of the uranium deposits in Wyoming are formed from uraniferous groundwaters derived from Precambrian granitic terranes.

Uranium in the major uranium deposits in the San Juan basin of New Mexico is believed to have been derived from silicic volcanic ash from Jurassic island arcs at the edge of the continent.

From the above sources, we see that another factor influencing radiometric dates is the proportion of the magma that comes from subducted oceanic plates and the proportion that comes from crustal rock. Initially, we would expect most of it to come from subducted oceanic plates, which are uranium and thorium poor and maybe lead rich. Later, more of the crustal rock would be incorporated by melting into the magma, and thus the magma would be richer in uranium and thorium and poorer in lead.

So this factor would also make the age appear to become younger with time. There are two kinds of magma, and the crustal material which is enriched in uranium also tends to be lighter. For our topic on radiometric dating and fractional crystallization, there is nothing that would prevent uranium and thorium ores from crystallizing within the upper, lighter portion of the magma chamber and descending to the lower boundaries of the sialic portion.

The same kind of fractional crystallization would be true of non-granitic melts. I think we can build a strong case for fictitious ages in magmatic rocks as a result of fractional cystallization and geochemical processes. As we have seen, we cannot ignore geochemical effects while we consider geophysical effects.

Sialic granitic and mafic basaltic magma are separated from each other, with uranium and thorium chemically predestined to reside mainly in sialic magma and less in mafic rock. Here is yet another mechanism that can cause trouble for radiometric dating: As lava rises through the crust, it will heat up surrounding rock. 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.

More Bad News for Radiometric Dating Most scientists today believe that life has existed on the earth for billions of years. This belief in long ages for the earth and the existence of life is derived largely from radiometric dating. These.

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.

Note that this assumption implies a thorough mixing and melting of the magma, which would also mix in the parent substances as well.

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Then we require some process to preferentially concentrate the parent substances in certain places. Radioactive decay would generate a concentration of D proportional to P.

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