Radiometric dating methods flaws


22-Sep-2019 15:08

It refers to one specific source of error – the uncertainty in the measurement of the amounts of various atoms used in the analysis.

Most likely, that is the least important source of error.

One way this is done in many radioactive dating techniques is to use an isochron. To understand the problem, let’s start with an example of how radioactive dating works. Sr-87 is not radioactive, so the change is permanent.

The elements rubidium and strontium are found in many rocks. As illustrated above, a neutron in a Rb-87 atom can eject an electron (often called a beta particle), which has a negative charge. We know how long it takes Rb-87 to turn into Sr-87, so in principle, if we analyze the amount of Rb-87 and Sr-87 in a rock, we should be able to tell how long the decay has been occurring.

As someone who has studied radioactivity in detail, I have always been a bit amused by the assertion that radioactive dating is a precise way to determine the age of an object.

This false notion is often promoted when radioactive dates are listed with utterly unrealistic error bars.

As I have stated previously, we just don’t know a lot about radioactive decay.

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If the effects of diffusion can be taken into account, it will require an elaborate model that will most certainly require elaborate assumptions. Hayes suggests a couple of other approaches that might work, but its not clear how well. If you believe the earth is very old, then most likely, all of the radioactive dates based on isochrons are probably overestimates. I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. Hayes’s model indicates it could add as much as 29 billion years to ages determined with rubidium and strontium, although his model is rather simplistic.

Most likely, the effect will be dependent on the age.



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