Why dating of fossils is inaccurate
In a related article on geologic ages (Ages), we presented a chart with the various geologic eras and their ages.In a separate article (Radiometric dating), we sketched in some technical detail how these dates are calculated using radiometric dating techniques. Error Banner a.modal_overlay.modal_overlay.hidden.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:hover:before.modal_overlay [email protected](max-width:630px).modal_overlay [email protected](max-width:630px).inline_editor_content:hover .inline_editor_edit.inline_editor_content .form_buttons.question_details .qtext_image_wrapper.question_details .qtext_image_placeholder.question_details .qtext_image. Selector .selector_input_interaction .selector_input. Selector .selector_input_interaction .selector_spinner. Selector .selector_results_container.form_buttons.form_buttons a.form_buttons input[type='submit'].form_buttons .submit_button.form_buttons .submit_button.form_buttons .action_button.hover_menu.hover_menu:before,.hover_menu:after.hover_menu.show_nub:before.hover_menu.show_nub:after.hover_menu.show_nub.white_bg:after.hover_menu .hover_menu_contents.hover_menu.white_bg .hover_menu_contents. Such failures may be due to laboratory errors (mistakes happen), unrecognized geologic factors (nature sometimes fools us), or misapplication of the techniques (no one is perfect).We scientists who measure isotope ages do not rely entirely on the error estimates and the self-checking features of age diagnostic diagrams to evaluate the accuracy of radiometric ages.Radioactive decay rates have been measured for over sixty years now for many of the decay clocks without any observed changes.And it has been close to a hundred years since the uranium-238 decay rate was first determined.
Radiometric dating is self-checking, because the data (after certain preliminary calculations are made) are fitted to a straight line (an "isochron") by means of standard linear regression methods of statistics.
Also, as the authors of the 1968 article were careful to explain, xenoliths cannot be dated by the K-Ar method because of excess argon in bubbles trapped inside [Dalrymple2006].
Thus in this case, as in many others that have been raised by skeptics of old-earth geology, the "anomaly" is more imaginary than real.
147] has highlighted the fact that measurements of specimens from a 1801 lava flow near a volcano in Hualalai, Hawaii gave apparent ages (using the Potassium-Argon method) ranging from 160 million to 2.96 billion years, citing a 1968 study [Funkhouser1968].
In the particular case that Morris highlighted, the lava flow was unusual because it included numerous xenoliths (typically consisting of olivine, an iron-magnesium silicate material) that are foreign to the lava, having been carried from deep within the earth but not completely melted in the lava.