Carbon dating chart
Carbon dating chart
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.
Dating schemes based on rates of radioactivity have been refined and scrutinized for several decades.The latest high-tech equipment permits reliable results to be obtained even with microscopic samples.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.The slope of the line determines the date, and the closeness of fit is a measure of the statistical reliability of the resulting date.Technical details on how these dates are calculated are given in Radiometric dating. As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain "glitches" and "anomalies," as noted in the literature.Here is one example of an isochron, based on measurements of basaltic meteorites (in this case the resulting date is 4.4 billion years) [Basaltic1981, pg. Skeptics of old-earth geology make great hay of these examples.
For example, creationist writer Henry Morris [Morris2000, pg.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.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.Other objections raised by creationists are addressed in [Dalrymple2006a].