Re: Some Comments on Radiometric dating.

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Thu Jan 09 2003 - 20:58:53 EST

  • Next message: John Burgeson: "(no subject)"

    I'm not a geologist, and I take your word on the evident age inversion.
    But I have this observation. It seems, even somewhat implicit in your
    description, that there is a backdrop of a substantial body of data
    correlating geological layers and ordering of radiometrically determined
    ages (by more than one technique as I faintly recall) that has resulted
    in radiometric aging being broadly accepted tool for age determination.
    The geologic dynamics of the Earth are certainly complex, and it is not
    unusual to find a small number of anomalies in even well-understood
    systems with this degree of complexity.

    You appear to feel that the anomalies such as you describe occur in
    sufficient numbers to overcome the large amount of data that correlated
    well enough to allow radiometric dating to be broadly accepted by so
    many earth scientists. Further, you suggest that the biases of a pretty
    substantial number of scientists compromised enough of the data
    underlying the acceptance of radiometric dating so as to invalidate the
    technique. I have a bit of a problem with that. It seems to me like
    radiometric dating has been vetted by too many people, over too long a
    period, by too many alternative processes, and through too many
    noncontradictory findings to easily set it aside in the presence of one
    or a small number (I am guessing) of anomalous configurations like the
    Uinkaret. That is not to say that the Uinkaret should be ignored (and I
    bet it isn't!), because it has the potential to teach us when understood
    (part of your message). But it seems to me that the weight of this
    relatively isolated finding is not sufficiently persuasive to discard
    the conclusions drawn from the much larger body of samplings and
    correlations requisite to the general acceptance of radiometric dating.

    Is this something more than anomaly?

    Regards Jim Armstrong

    allenroy wrote:

    >Its been a little slow on the ASAnet so I thought I'd throw this out. :)
    >I have 3 points to make.
    >1: There is a distinction to be understood between computing apparent
    >ages according to certain assumptions from scientific quantification of
    >an assortment of isotopes in rock, and the acceptance of those dates as
    >valid for the rock involved. (Actually, the process of measuring
    >isotopes has evolved to the level of technology rather than scientific
    >experiment. Very few today conduct scientific experiments to measure
    >isotopes, rather, rock samples are submitted to labs who have the
    >technology to process the rock to measure contained isotopes.) I don't
    >know of any Creationary scientist who quarrels over the methodology,
    >accuracy and precision with which isotopes are measured and ages
    >computed. Most have, however, focused on the validity of assumptions of
    >radiometric dating. I would like to make another point.
    >I live not far from Grand Canyon, and in fact, I conduct Creationary
    >Cataclysmic tours there for those interested in hearing the latest
    >models concerning Noah's Flood. (see
    > ) As most every one knows,
    >radiometric dating is done primarily on igneous rock. Within Grand
    >Canyon are several outcrops of volcanic rock, two of which I'd like to
    >talk about -- familiar to many who know of Grand Canyon. They are the
    >Cardenas Basalts of the Grand Canyon Supergroup at the bottom of Grand
    >Canyon and the Uinkaret plateau lava flows. These outcrops are of
    >interest because the Cardenas Basalts represent some of the oldest rocks
    >in Grand Canyon, existing below all the horizontal layers which make
    >Grand Canyon so famous. On the other hand, the Uinkaret Plateau lava
    >flows extruded on top of the plateaus above the canyon, some of which
    >also flowed down inside Grand Canyon. Everyone agrees that the Uinkaret
    >lava flows must be younger than the formation of Grand Canyon (less than
    >1 million years) and that Grand Canyon must be younger than the Cardenas
    >basalts. Ergo, the Uinkaret lava must be younger than the Cardenas basalts.
    >I think that most everyone also knows that when Rb/Sr radioisotope
    >measurements were made of these rocks, contrary to what was expected,
    >the Uinkaret lava flows actually measure and compute to be OLDER (~1.3
    >Billion years old) than the Cardenas Basalts (~1.0 Billion years old).
    >This is a conundrum to any geologist -- Creationist or Evolutionist. All
    >arguments about assumptions and justifications aside, it still remains a
    >fact that EVERYONE discards and rejects the Rb/Sr data for the Uinkaret
    >lava flows. Although the methodology and technological processes were
    >faithfully and precisely followed on rock samples from both sources, the
    >dating for the Uinkaret is rejected while dates for the Cardenas are
    >This comes to my point. Just because the process of radiometric dating
    >is done with great precision and great care, that does not automatically
    >mean that the results are going to be accepted as valid. In the many
    >geological papers that I've read where radiometric samples have been
    >processed, there is usually a "discussion" about whether to accept or
    >reject the ages so acquired. That choice comes about through factors
    >other than the accuracy of the radiometric process. In the case of the
    >Uinkaret/Cardenas igneous rock, non-scientifically acquired data
    >actually takes precedence over the scientifically (technologically?)
    >acquired radiometric data. It is strictly observation and logic (not
    >scientific experiment) that shows that the Uinkaret must be younger than
    >the Cardenas. This fact outweighs the scientific data acquired through
    >the radiometric dating process.
    >So, Point 1 is: The acceptance or rejection of radiometrically acquired
    >ages for rock depends upon factors other than the science/technology of
    >radiometric dating. (The Uinkaret/Cardenas system is symptomatic of the
    >entire radiometric dating scheme).
    >2: The second point concerns scientific objectivity. We are given the
    >impression that: 1. radiometric dating is science; 2. science is
    >objective; therefore 3. dating of rock units using radiometric
    >methodology is objective science. However, as we have just seen, the
    >objectivity of radiometric dating is only applicable through the
    >methodology of sampling, processing and computing a radiometric age.
    >After that point, a radiometric age may be countermanded by other
    >important information and data. The point I want to make now is that at
    >the very moment that a radiometric age is rejected (or even accepted)
    >based on other data, the radiometric dating method immediately becomes
    >subject to that other information. Thus, no matter how precise the
    >radiometric process has been, the results are still handled
    >subjectively. In the case of the Uinkaret, the computed ages are
    >rejected because it is impossible for them to be correct. In the case of
    >the Cardenas, the computed ages are accepted because they agree with
    >what is expected.
    >So, Point 2 is: The dating process of rock units is subjective even when
    >radiometric dates are available. The radiometric dates may be accepted
    >or rejected depending upon other information.
    >3: I'll just state this point right off the bat;
    >Point 3 is:
    > 1. If any rock unit is believed to be young, then any old
    > radiometric age is rejected, not as inaccurate, but as irrelevant.
    > OR,
    > 2. A rock unit must first be thought to be of a certain age before
    > such an age will be applied to it.
    > OR,
    > 3. A rock unit must first be thought to be old before an old age is
    > applied to it.
    >The truth of the first statement is borne out by the lava flows of the
    >Uinkaret. Everybody, but everybody, but EVERYBODY believes that the
    >Uinkaret basalts must be young, therefore the 1.3 Billion year
    >radiometric computed age is not inaccurate, but completely irrelevant.
    >The truth of the second statement is borne out by the K-Ar computed age
    >of the Uinkaret basalts ranging from 10,000 years to 117 million years.
    >Everyone knows that the Uinkaret basalts must be younger than the age of
    >Grand Canyon (less than 5 million years) so the age of the Uinkaret
    >appears relatively confirmed by the K-Ar radiometric computed ages.
    >The truth of the third statement is borne out by the acceptance of the
    >computed old ages from Rb-Sr (~1 Billion years) and K-Ar (~800 Million
    >years) for the Cardenas basalts which had to be in place long before the
    >phanerozoic rocks were deposited through which, even later, Grand Canyon
    >was carved. Very few have ever doubted the computed ages applied to the
    >Cardenas, nor even considered looking for younger dates.
    > 1. The acceptance or rejection of radiometrically acquired ages for
    > rock depends upon factors other than the science/technology of
    > radiometric dating.
    > 2. The dating process of rock units is subjective even when
    > radiometric dates are available.
    > 3. If any rock unit is believed to be young, then any old
    > radiometric age is rejected, not as inaccurate, but as irrelevant.
    >So where does this bring us?
    >I, as a Creationary Cataclysmist, consider that all igneous rock units
    >found within the phanerozoic (the geologic record of sedimentary rock
    >units containing fossil and thus must be post sin) are probably mostly
    >emplaced during or after the flood cataclysm. Therefore, based on
    >chronological evidence in the Bible, the Phanerozoic and included
    >igneous formations are approximately 4000 years old. Since I believe
    >that these igneous rocks must be very young, then all radiometrically
    >acquired and computed old ages are not inaccurate, but completely
    >Within the Biblically based paradigm of Creationary Cataclysmism, old
    >radiometrically computed ages for igneous rock contained within the
    >phanerozoic record have no meaning or reality. (please note, I am not
    >here discussing the age of the Universe nor of a pre-creation week
    >planetoid that likely existed in a void state.) All such computed old
    >ages can be safely ignored as totally irrelevant and they have no
    >bearing at all in preparing flood models.
    >Uinkaret Lava age
    >K/Ar date sources
    >0.01 million years
    >S. J. Reynolds, et. al. "Compilation of Radiometric Age Determinations
    >in Arizona," Arizona Bureau of Geology and Mineral Technology Bulletin,
    >197 (1986):1-258
    >117 million years
    >P.E. Damon and others, "Correlation and Chronology of the Ore Deposits
    >and Volcanic Rocks," U.W. Atomic Energy Commission Annual Report, No.
    >C00-689-76, (1967), 82 pg.
    >1.2 million years
    >E.D. McKee, Hamblin and Damon, "K-Ar Age of Lava Dam in Grand Canyon,"
    >GSA Bulletin, 79 (Jan. 1968):133-136.
    >3.67, 2.63, 3.60 million years
    >Renolds, et. al., op-cit. p 14, 16
    >Rb/Sr date sources
    >1.27-1.36 billion years
    >Austin, S. A. "Are Grand Canyon Rocks One Billion Years Old?" Grand
    >Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe. 1994, p. 125
    >Pb/Pb date sources
    >2.6 billion years
    >Renolds, et. al., op-cit.
    >Cardenas Basalt ages.
    >K/Ar date sources
    >853 my
    >Ford, Breed and Mitchell, "Name and Age of the Upp-er Precambrian
    >Basalts in Eastern Grand Canyon." GSA Bulletin, 83 (Jan. 1972), 223-226
    >820, 800, 791, 843 my
    >McKee and Noble, "Age of the Cardenas Lavas, Grand Canyon, AZ" GSA
    >bulletin, 83 (Jan, 1976):1180-1190
    >Elson and McKee, "Age and Correlation of the Late Proterozoic Grand
    >Canyon Disturbance, Northern Arizona" GSA Bulletin, 93 (Aug. 1982)m 681-699
    >Rb/Sr date sources
    >0.98 to 1.09 billion years
    >McKee and Noble, "Age of the Cardenas Lavas, Grand Canyon, AZ" GSA
    >bulletin, 83 (Jan, 1976):1180-1190

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