Here I want to concentrate on another source of error, namely, processes that take place within magma chambers. To me it has been a real eye opener to see all the processes that are taking place and their potential influence on radiometric dating. Radiometric dating is largely done on rock that has formed from solidified lava. Lava properly called magma before it erupts fills large underground chambers called magma chambers. Most people are not aware of the many processes that take place in lava before it erupts and as it solidifies, processes that can have a tremendous influence on daughter to parent ratios.
If uranium were lost, however, the concordia-discordia plot would indicate that also. The U-Pb concordia-discordia method is one of the most powerful and reliable dating methods available. It is especially resistant to heating and metamorphic events and thus is extremely useful in rocks with complex histories. Quite often this method is used in conjunction with the K-Ar and the Rb-Sr isochron methods to unravel the history of metamorphic rocks, because each of these methods responds differently to metamorphism and heating.
For example, the U-Pb discordia age might give the age of initial formation of the rock, whereas the K-Ar method, which is especially sensitive to argon loss by heating, might give the age of the latest heating event. An example of a U-Pb discordia age is shown in Figure 5. This example shows an age of 3.
The K-Ar ages on rocks and minerals from this area in southwestern Minnesota also record this 1. This argument is specious and akin to concluding that all wristwatches do not work because you happen to find one that does not keep accurate time. Like any complex procedure, radiometric dating does not work all the time under all circumstances. Each technique works only under a particular set of geologic conditions and occasionally a method is inadvertently misapplied.
There are, to be sure, inconsistencies, errors, and results that are poorly understood, but these are very few in comparison with the vast body of consistent and sensible results that clearly indicate that the methods do work and that the results, properly applied and carefully evaluated, can be trusted. A few examples will demonstrate that their criticisms are without merit. The creationist author J. He claims that these examples cast serious doubt on the validity of radiometric dating.
The use of radiometric dating in Geology involves a very selective acceptance of data. Discrepant dates, attributed to open systems, may instead be evidence against the validity of radiometric dating. However, close examination of his examples, a few of which are listed in Table 2shows that he misrepresents both the data and their meaning.
The two ages from gulf coast localities Table 2 are from a report by Evernden and others These are K-Ar data obtained on glauconite, a potassium-bearing clay mineral that forms in some marine sediment. Woodmorappe fails to mention, however, that these data were obtained as part of a controlled experiment to test, on samples of known age, the applicability of the K-Ar method to glauconite and to illite, another clay mineral.
He also neglects to mention that most of the 89 K-Ar ages reported in their study agree very well with the expected ages. Evernden and others 43 found that these clay minerals are extremely susceptible to argon loss when heated even slightly, such as occurs when sedimentary rocks are deeply buried.
As a result, glauconite is used for dating only with extreme caution. The ages from the Coast Range batholith in Alaska Table 2 are referenced by Woodmorappe to a report by Lanphere and others Whereas Lanphere and his colleagues referred to these two K-Ar ages of and million years, the ages are actually from another report and were obtained from samples collected at two localities in Canada, not Alaska.
There is nothing wrong with these ages; they are consistent with the known geologic relations and represent the crystallization ages of the Canadian samples. The Liberian example Table 2 is from a report by Dalrymple and others These authors studied dikes of basalt that intruded Precambrian crystalline basement rocks and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks in western Liberia.
The dikes cutting the Precambrian basement gave K-Ar ages ranging from to million years Woodmorappe erroneously lists this higher age as million yearswhereas those cutting the Mesozoic sedimentary rocks gave K-Ar ages of from to million years. Woodmorappe does not mention that the experiments in this study were designed such that the anomalous results were evident, the cause of the anomalous results was discovered, and the crystallization ages of the Liberian dikes were unambiguously determined.
The Liberian study is, in fact, an excellent example of how geochronologists design experiments so that the results can be checked and verified. The final example listed in Table 2 is a supposed 34 billion-year Rb-Sr isochron age on diabase of the Pahrump Group from Panamint Valley, California, and is referenced to a book by Faure and Powell Again, Woodmorappe badly misrepresents the facts. The data do not fall on any straight line and do not, therefore, form an isochron.
The original data are from a report by Wasserburg and otherswho plotted the data as shown but did not draw a billion-year isochron on the diagram. As discussed above, one feature of the Rb-Sr isochron diagram is that, to a great extent, it is self-diagnostic.
The scatter of the data in Figure 6 shows clearly that the sample has been an open system to 87 Sr and perhaps to other isotopes as well and that no meaningful Rb-Sr age can be calculated from these data.
This conclusion was clearly stated by both Wasserburg and others and by Faure and Powell There are two things wrong with this argument. First, the lead data that Kofahl and Segraves 77 cite, which come from a report by Oversbyare common lead measurements done primarily to obtain information on the genesis of the Reunion lavas and secondarily to estimate when the parent magma the lava was derived from was separated from primitive mantle material.
These data cannot be used to calculate the age of the lava flows and no knowledgeable scientist would attempt to do so. We can only speculate on where Kofahl and Segraves obtained their numbers. The data Morris 92 refers to were published by Evernden and others 44but include samples from different islands that formed at different times! The age of 3.
Dating Methods at Grand Canyon
The approximate age ofyears was the mean of the results from four samples from the Island of Hawaii, which is much younger than Kauai. Many of the rocks seem to have inherited Ar 40 from the magma from which the rocks were derived. Volcanic rocks erupted into the ocean definitely inherit Ar 40 and helium and thus when these are dated by the K 40 -Ar 40 clock, old ages are obtained for very recent flows.
Each of the various decay schemes and dating methods has unique characteristics that make it applicable to particular geologic situations. For example, a method based on a parent isotope with a very long half-life, such as Sm, is not very useful for measuring the age of a rock only a few million years old because insufficient amounts of the. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to combine 3 He exposure dating of olivine from mafic volcanic rocks with 10 Be exposure dating of quartz-bearing xenoliths to quantify eruption ages of cinder cones and basaltic lava flows in a Late Quaternary volcanic field. The two exposure dating methods yielded consistent results for Cited by: Sep 01, Relative Dating Methods The simplest and most intuitive way of dating geological features is to look at the relationships between them. There are a few simple rules for doing this, some of which we've already looked at in Chapter 6. Dark grey metamorphosed basalt. 3. A 50 cm wide light-grey felsic intrusive igneous dyke extending from Author: Steven Earle.
For example, lavas taken from the ocean bottom off the island [sic] of Hawaii on a submarine extension of the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano gave an age of 22 million years, but the actual flow happened less than years ago. Slusher and Morris 92 advanced this argument in an attempt to show that the K-Ar method is unreliable, but the argument is a red herring. Two studies independently discovered that the glassy margins of submarine pillow basalts, so named because lava extruded under water forms globular shapes resembling pillows, trap 40 Ar dissolved in the melt before it can escape 36 This effect is most serious in the rims of the pillows and increases in severity with water depth.
The excess 40 Ar content approaches zero toward pillow interiors, which cool more slowly and allow the 40 Ar to escape, and in water depths of less than about meters because of the lessening of hydrostatic pressure. The purpose of these two studies was to determine, in a controlled experiment with samples of known age, the suitability of submarine pillow basalts for dating, because it was suspected that such samples might be unreliable.
Such studies are not unusual because each different type of mineral and rock has to be tested carefully before it can be used for any radiometric dating technique. In the case of the submarine pillow basalts, the results clearly indicated that these rocks are unsuitable for dating, and so they are not generally used for this purpose except in special circumstances and unless there is some independent way of verifying the results.
The citation for this statement is to a report by Turner Turner, however, made no such comment about excess argon in lunar rocks, and there are no data in his report on which such a conclusion could be based. The statement by Rofahl and Segraves 77 is simply unjustifiable.
Volcanic rocks produced by lava flows which occurred in Hawaii in the years were dated by the potassium-argon method. Excess argon produced apparent ages ranging from million to 2. Similar modern rocks formed in near Hualalai, Hawaii, were found to give potassium-argon ages ranging from million years to 3 billion years. Kofahl and Segraves 77 and Morris 92 cite a study by Funkhouser and Naughton 51 on xenolithic inclusions in the flow from Hualalai Volcano on the Island of Hawaii.
The flow is unusual because it carries very abundant inclusions of rocks foreign to the lava. These inclusions, called xenoliths meaning foreign rocksconsist primarily of olivine, a pale-green iron-magnesium silicate mineral. They come from deep within the mantle and were carried upward to the surface by the lava.
In the field, they look like large raisins in a pudding and even occur in beds piled one on top of the other, glued together by the lava.
The study by Funkhouser and Naughton 51 was on the xenoliths, not on the lava. The xenoliths, which vary in composition and range in size from single mineral grains to rocks as big as basketballs, do, indeed, carry excess argon in large amounts.
Quite simply, xenoliths are one of the types of rocks that cannot be dated by the K-Ar technique. Funkhouser and Naughton were able to determine that the excess gas resides primarily in fluid bubbles in the minerals of the xenoliths, where it cannot escape upon reaching the surface. Studies such as the one by Funkhouser and Naughton are routinely done to ascertain which materials are suitable for dating and which are not, and to determine the cause of sometimes strange results.
They are part of a continuing effort to learn. Two extensive K-Ar studies on historical lava flows from around the world 3179 showed that excess argon is not a serious problem for dating lava flows. In nearly every case, the measured K-Ar age was zero, as expected if excess argon is uncommon. An exception is the lava from the Hualalai flow, which is so badly contaminated by the xenoliths that it is impossible to obtain a completely inclusion-free sample.
Jan 05, Dating of the Seafloor. Methods to date the seafloor: Fossils-these give the age of the sediment layer enclosing them. The lowest fossils, just above the pillow basalts, will give the age of the crust. This requires drilling to the basalts. Depth-due to thermal subsidence, the depth will give a rough age for seafloor younger than Ma. The real radiomatric dating methods are often very badly behaved, and often disagree with one another as well as with the assumed ages of their geological periods. It would really be nice if geologists would just do a double blind study sometime to find out what the distributions of the ages are. In practice, geologists carefully select what. Radiometric dating, radioactive dating or radioisotope dating is a technique which is used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant.
There is really no valid way of determining what the initial amounts of Sr 87 in rocks were. As discussed above in the section on Rb-Sr dating the simplest form of Rb-Sr dating i. Such samples are rare, and so nearly all modern Rb-Sr dating is done by the isochron method. The beauty of the Rb-Sr isochron method is that knowledge of the initial Sr isotopic composition is not necessary - it is one of the results obtained.
A second advantage of the isochron method is that it contains internal checks on reliability. Look again at the isochron for the meteorite Juvinas Figure 3. The data are straightforward albeit technically complex measurements that fall on a straight line, indicating that the meteorite has obeyed the closed-system requirement. The decay constants used in the calculations were the same as those in use throughout the world in The age of 4. There is far too much Ar 40 in the earth for more than a small fraction of it to have been formed by radioactive decay of K This is true even if the earth were really 4.
In the atmosphere of the earth, Ar 40 constitutes This is around times the amount that would be generated by radioactive decay over the hypothetical 4.
Certainly this is not produced by an influx from outer space. Thus it would seem that a large amount of Ar 40 was present in the beginning. Since geochronologists assume that errors due to presence of initial Ar 40 are small, their results are highly questionable. This statement contains several serious errors.
First, there is not more 40 Ar in the atmosphere than can be accounted for by radioactive decay of 40 K over 4.
An amount of 40 Ar equivalent to all the 40 Ar now in the atmosphere could be generated in 4. Current estimates of the composition of the Earth indicate that the crust contains about 1. The 40 Ar content of the atmosphere is well known and is 6. Thus, the Earth and the atmosphere now contain about equal amounts of 40 Ar, and the total could be generated if the Earth contained only ppm potassium and released half of its 40 Ar to the atmosphere.
Second, there have been sufficient tests to show that during their formation in the crust, igneous and metamorphic rocks nearly always release their entrapped 40 Ar, thus resetting the K-Ar clock.
Here we propose uranium-series dating of these 'speleogenetic' gypsum crusts as a way to establish the ages of young basalt flows. We demonstrate the technique using cave crusts from four young basalt flows in El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico, three of which are moderately well-dated by alternative methods (14 C, 36 Cl, and 3 He ages).Author: Victor J. Polyak, Julian R. Dillon, Yemane Asmerom, Bogdan P. Onac. Jun 28, Thus, radioactive decay of samarium was faster than that of rubidium, which was faster than that of potassium. Such accelerated radioactive decay rates would mean that these basalt lavas may instead be only thousands of years old. Certainly the radioactive dating methods . Luminescence dating refers to a group of methods of determining how long ago mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight or sufficient heating. It is useful to geologists and archaeologists who want to know when such an event occurred. It uses various methods to stimulate and measure luminescence. It includes techniques such as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), infrared stimulated.
In addition, scientists typically design their experiments so that anomalous results, such as might be caused by the rare case of initial 40 Ar, are readily apparent. The study of the Liberian diabase dikes, discussed above, is a good example of this practice.
First, if it is assumed that there is a uniform distribution of Sr 87 in the rock, then it is assumed that there is also a uniform distribution of Rb It only requires that the Sr isotopic compositioni. Even though the various minerals will incorporate different amounts of Sr as they cool and form, the Sr isotopic composition will be the same because natural processes do not significantly fractionate isotopes with so little mass difference as 87 Sr and 86 Sr.
Second, Slusher has confused isotopes and elements. Rb and Sr are quite different elements and are incorporated into the various minerals in varying proportions according to the composition and structure of the minerals. There is no way to correct for this natural isotopic variation since there is no way to determine it.
This renders the Rb 87 -Sr 87 series useless as a clock.
Means not basalt dating methods does not
Slusher is wrong again. He has used an invalid analogy and come to an erroneous conclusion. Arndts and Overn 8 and Kramer and others 78 claim that Rb-Sr isochrons are the result of mixing, rather than of decay of 87 Rb over long periods:.
It is clear that mixing of pre-existent materials will yield a linear array of isotopic ratios. We need not assume that the isotopes, assumed to be daughter isotopes, were in fact produced in the rock by radioactive decay. Thus the assumption of immense ages has not been proven. The straight lines, which seem to make radiometric dating meaningful, are easily assumed to be the result of simple mixing.
This preliminary study of the recent evolutionary literature would suggest that there are many published Rb-Sr isochrons with allegedly measured ages of hundreds of millions of years which easily meet the criteria for mixing, and are therefore more cogently indicative of recent origin. Kramer and others 78 and Arndts and Overn 8 have come to an incorrect conclusion because they have ignored several important facts about the geochemistry of Rb-Sr systems and the systematics of isochrons.
However, geologists have found that various eruptive stages of the same volcano often extrude lavas exhibiting somewhat different mineral compositions, particularly if an extensive period of time separated the eruptions. Evidence of this type led them to look into the possibility that a single magma might produce rocks of varying mineral content. A pioneering investigation into the crystallization of magma was carried out by N.
Bowen in the first quarter of this century. Bowen discovered that as magma cools in the laboratory, certain minerals crystallize first. At successively lower temperature, other minerals begin to crystallize as shown in Figure 3.
As the crystallization process continues, the composition of the melt liquid portion of a magma, excluding any solid material continually changes. For example, at the stage when about 50 percent of the magma has solidified, the melt will be greatly depleted in iron, magnesium, and calcium, because these elements are found in the earliest formed minerals. But at the same time, it will be enriched in the elements contained in the later forming minerals, namely sodium and potassium.
Further, the silicon content of the melt becomes enriched toward the latter stages of crystallization. Bowen also demonstrated that if a mineral remained in the melt after it had crystallized, it would react with the remaining melt and produce the next mineral in the sequence shown in Figure 3. For this reason, this arrangement of minerals became known as Bowen's reaction series.
On the upper left branch of this reaction series, olivine, the first mineral to form, Ml] react with the remaining melt to become pyroxene. This reaction will continue until the last mineral in the series, biotite mica, is formed. This left branch is called a discontinuous reaction series because each mineral has a different crystalline structure. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Remarkable, basalt dating methods phrase, matchless))) can
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. 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?
Well. can basalt dating methods consider, that
Not necessarily. It depends how fast it happened. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. This can be seen in the concordia diagram, where the samples plot along an errorchron straight line which intersects the concordia curve at the age of the sample.
This involves the alpha decay of Sm to Nd with a half-life of 1. Accuracy levels of within twenty million years in ages of two-and-a-half billion years are achievable. This involves electron capture or positron decay of potassium to argon Potassium has a half-life of 1. This is based on the beta decay of rubidium to strontiumwith a half-life of 50 billion years. This scheme is used to date old igneous and metamorphic rocksand has also been used to date lunar samples. Closure temperatures are so high that they are not a concern.
Rubidium-strontium dating is not as precise as the uranium-lead method, with errors of 30 to 50 million years for a 3-billion-year-old sample.
Basalt dating methods
Application of in situ analysis Laser-Ablation ICP-MS within single mineral grains in faults have shown that the Rb-Sr method can be used to decipher episodes of fault movement. A relatively short-range dating technique is based on the decay of uranium into thorium, a substance with a half-life of about 80, years.
It is accompanied by a sister process, in which uranium decays into protactinium, which has a half-life of 32, years. While uranium is water-soluble, thorium and protactinium are not, and so they are selectively precipitated into ocean-floor sedimentsfrom which their ratios are measured.
The scheme has a range of several hundred thousand years. A related method is ionium-thorium datingwhich measures the ratio of ionium thorium to thorium in ocean sediment. Radiocarbon dating is also simply called carbon dating. Carbon is a radioactive isotope of carbon, with a half-life of 5, years   which is very short compared with the above isotopesand decays into nitrogen. Carbon, though, is continuously created through collisions of neutrons generated by cosmic rays with nitrogen in the upper atmosphere and thus remains at a near-constant level on Earth.
The carbon ends up as a trace component in atmospheric carbon dioxide CO 2. A carbon-based life form acquires carbon during its lifetime. Plants acquire it through photosynthesisand animals acquire it from consumption of plants and other animals. When an organism dies, it ceases to take in new carbon, and the existing isotope decays with a characteristic half-life years. The proportion of carbon left when the remains of the organism are examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since its death.
This makes carbon an ideal dating method to date the age of bones or the remains of an organism. The carbon dating limit lies around 58, to 62, years. The rate of creation of carbon appears to be roughly constant, as cross-checks of carbon dating with other dating methods show it gives consistent results. However, local eruptions of volcanoes or other events that give off large amounts of carbon dioxide can reduce local concentrations of carbon and give inaccurate dates.
The releases of carbon dioxide into the biosphere as a consequence of industrialization have also depressed the proportion of carbon by a few percent; conversely, the amount of carbon was increased by above-ground nuclear bomb tests that were conducted into the early s.
Also, an increase in the solar wind or the Earth's magnetic field above the current value would depress the amount of carbon created in the atmosphere. This involves inspection of a polished slice of a material to determine the density of "track" markings left in it by the spontaneous fission of uranium impurities.
The uranium content of the sample has to be known, but that can be determined by placing a plastic film over the polished slice of the material, and bombarding it with slow neutrons. This causes induced fission of U, as opposed to the spontaneous fission of U. The fission tracks produced by this process are recorded in the plastic film.
The uranium content of the material can then be calculated from the number of tracks and the neutron flux. This scheme has application over a wide range of geologic dates. For dates up to a few million years micastektites glass fragments from volcanic eruptionsand meteorites are best used. Older materials can be dated using zirconapatitetitaniteepidote and garnet which have a variable amount of uranium content.
The technique has potential applications for detailing the thermal history of a deposit.
The residence time of 36 Cl in the atmosphere is about 1 week. Thus, as an event marker of s water in soil and ground water, 36 Cl is also useful for dating waters less than 50 years before the present.
Luminescence dating methods are not radiometric dating methods in that they do not rely on abundances of isotopes to calculate age. Instead, they are a consequence of background radiation on certain minerals. Over time, ionizing radiation is absorbed by mineral grains in sediments and archaeological materials such as quartz and potassium feldspar. The radiation causes charge to remain within the grains in structurally unstable "electron traps".
Exposure to sunlight or heat releases these charges, effectively "bleaching" the sample and resetting the clock to zero. The trapped charge accumulates over time at a rate determined by the amount of background radiation at the location where the sample was buried.
Stimulating these mineral grains using either light optically stimulated luminescence or infrared stimulated luminescence dating or heat thermoluminescence dating causes a luminescence signal to be emitted as the stored unstable electron energy is released, the intensity of which varies depending on the amount of radiation absorbed during burial and specific properties of the mineral.
These methods can be used to date the age of a sediment layer, as layers deposited on top would prevent the grains from being "bleached" and reset by sunlight.
Pottery shards can be dated to the last time they experienced significant heat, generally when they were fired in a kiln. Absolute radiometric dating requires a measurable fraction of parent nucleus to remain in the sample rock. For rocks dating back to the beginning of the solar system, this requires extremely long-lived parent isotopes, making measurement of such rocks' exact ages imprecise. To be able to distinguish the relative ages of rocks from such old material, and to get a better time resolution than that available from long-lived isotopes, short-lived isotopes that are no longer present in the rock can be used.
At the beginning of the solar system, there were several relatively short-lived radionuclides like 26 Al, 60 Fe, 53 Mn, and I present within the solar nebula.
These radionuclides-possibly produced by the explosion of a supernova-are extinct today, but their decay products can be detected in very old material, such as that which constitutes meteorites. By measuring the decay products of extinct radionuclides with a mass spectrometer and using isochronplots, it is possible to determine relative ages of different events in the early history of the solar system.
Dating methods based on extinct radionuclides can also be calibrated with the U-Pb method to give absolute ages. Thus both the approximate age and a high time resolution can be obtained. Generally a shorter half-life leads to a higher time resolution at the expense of timescale. The iodine-xenon chronometer  is an isochron technique. Samples are exposed to neutrons in a nuclear reactor. This converts the only stable isotope of iodine I into Xe via neutron capture followed by beta decay of I.
After irradiation, samples are heated in a series of steps and the xenon isotopic signature of the gas evolved in each step is analysed. Samples of a meteorite called Shallowater are usually included in the irradiation to monitor the conversion efficiency from I to Xe. This in turn corresponds to a difference in age of closure in the early solar system.
Another example of short-lived extinct radionuclide dating is the 26 Al - 26 Mg chronometer, which can be used to estimate the relative ages of chondrules. The 26 Al - 26 Mg chronometer gives an estimate of the time period for formation of primitive meteorites of only a few million years 1.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon. See also: Radioactive decay law.
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Main article: Closure temperature. Main article: Uranium-lead dating. Main article: Samarium-neodymium dating. Main article: Potassium-argon dating. Main article: Rubidium-strontium dating.