GEOLOGICAL: RADIOMETRIC DATING
1. Many chemical elements exist as numerous varieties called isotopes, some of which are radioactive, meaning they decay over time by losing particles. Radiometric dating is based on the decay rate of these radioactive “parent” isotopes into stable nonradioactive “daughter” isotopes. To date an object, scientists measure the quantity of parent and daughter isotope in a sample, and use the atomic decay rate to determine its probable age. There are four primary types of radiometric dating:
||1.3 billion years
||100,000-6.5 billion years
||4.5 billion years
||10 million – ??? years
||47 billion years
||10 million – ??? years
1. All isotope dating methods rely upon three primary assumptions:
a) The original amount of both parent and daughter elements is known.
b) The decay rate has remained constant.
c) The sample has remained in a closed system.
2. Assumption #1: Initial Conditions
a) Unless the original amounts of both parent and daughter elements are actually observed and measured, theoretically nothing can ever be actually known for sure.
b) Potassium-Argon composition of an igneous rock often depends on which magma reservoir it came from, as opposed to being the result of decay in the hardened rock. Moreover, isotope ratios are often used to identify the rock’s source reservoir.
(1) Willard Libby, the developer of the 14C dating method, found considerable discrepancies in his measurements indicating that radiocarbon was being created in the atmosphere somewhere around 25 percent faster than it was becoming extinct. Since this result was inexplicable by any conventional scientific means, Libby put the discrepancy down to experimental error.
(2) During the 1960s, Libby’s experiments were repeated by other chemists, and the new experiments revealed that the discrepancy observed by Libby was not merely an experimental error—it did exist. Though these figures have been disputed over the years, one thing is clear: the assumption of a constant 14C biospheric inventory over the past ~50,000 years is simply not true.
(3) John Woodmorappe has listed several factors that would lower the initial ratio of this radioactive isotope, which would result in higher 14C “dates.”
3. Assumption #2: Constant Decay Rate
a) Projecting presently measured processes back over millions or billions of years is a highly speculative act. That is, the assumption that present processes have remained uniform (i.e. “uniformitarianism”) over such long periods of time is questionable, especially when no one knows what causes radioactive decay in the first place.
b) Since radioactive decay rates have remained basically constant over the last 100 years, many concede on this point without question. However, recent laboratory research has demonstrated that the beta (β) decay rate was sped up a billion times when atoms were stripped of their electrons.
4. Assumption #3: System Closure
a) This assumption states that there is no gain or loss of parent or daughter isotopes from external sources during the decay process—a massive, unsubstantiated assumption.
b) The RATE Group (“Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth”) with ICR has shown that nearly all parent/daughter ratios used in radiometric “dating” can be altered by a number of geological processes including: leaching by hydrothermal and ground waters, diffusion through materials, and metamorphism.
5. Anomalous Data
a) The nearly complete lack of “blind tests” by geologists (standard procedure in science for overcoming experimenter bias) is an alarming reality that only a few have acknowledged.
b) Many published radiometric dates can be checked by comparisons with the evolution-based ages for fossils that sometimes lie above or below radiometrically dated rock. In a study by John Woodmorappe, more than 400 of these published dates were checked, and the radiometrically determined ages were at least one geologic age in error—indicating major errors in methodology.
c) Over the years, various creationists have independently “checked” a number of relatively newly formed lava flows.
(1) Mount St. Helens, WA
(a) In June 1992, Steven Austin and an ICR team climbed into the crater of Mount St. Helens and collected a 7kg (15lb) block of dacite from high on the lava dome (formed recently by 17 dome building eruptions from 18 October 1980 to 26 October 1986), which was then sent to Geochron Laboratories of Cambridge, MA.
(b) At the time of the test, the lava dome at Mount St. Helens was only about 10 years old, not millions of years. However, the results returned, ranging from 340,000 years to 2.8 million years old.
(c) The obvious conclusion is that the initial conditions are unknown and/or the system is not closed. Argon was retained in the rock when it solidified and/or potassium leached out. Thus, there is no “time zero” for radiometric clocks.
(2) Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand
(a) Located in the center of New Zealand’s North Island, Mount Ngauruhoe has had over 70 eruptions since Europeans first observed it in 1839. Rock samples were taken from the most recent hardened lava flows (specifically eruptions on 2.11.49, 6.4.54, 6.30.54, 7.14.54, and 2.19.75)
(b) 13 samples were sent for whole-rock potassium-argon dating to Geochron Laboratories. Though their actual ages were 25-51 years old, their radiometric “dates” ranged from 270,000 to 3.5 million years.
d) Many radiometric dating methods conflict with each other, producing different “ages” for the same rock.
(1) Central Queensland, Australia
(a) In 1993 miners sinking a ventilation shaft for the new Crinum Coal Mine in Central Queensland, Australia unearthed pieces of wood entombed in basalt. Fragments of the fossil wood were sent for radiocarbon (14C) analysis to Geochron Laboratories and the Antares Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. The basalt samples were sent for K-Ar dating to Geochron Laboratories and the AMDEL Laboratory in Adelaide, Australia.
(b) The wood was “dated” to ~30,000-45,000 years, while the basalt was “dated” at to ~37-58 million years. Contamination was completely ruled out by a method known as the δ13CPDB test.
(c) Since both of these methods supposedly stand independently, one of them must be wrong. This conflicting data presents a major problem for radiometric dating assumptions in general.
(2) Grand Canyon, AZ
(a) The bottom of the canyon contains an igneous rock layer, the Gardenas Basalt, suitable for radioisotope dating. When dated by the rubidium-strontium method it yielded an “age” of 1.07 billion years, considered a “good” date by most geologists because it agrees with their evolutionary chronology.
(b) Problems arise when the same rocks are dated with the potassium-argon method, which gives “ages” of 516 ± 30 Ma, strongly discordant with the published Rb-Sr “ages”.
(c) Steven Austin and an ICR team independently dated lava domes from volcanoes on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (believed by geologists to have erupted only thousands of years ago) by the same method, and ages were given of about 1.34 billion years, indicating that the top of the canyon is actually older than the bottom.
(3) East African KBS Tuff
(a) Richard Leakey began his expedition of the fossil deposits east of Lake Rudolf in northern Kenya in 1967. Seeking to unravel the geology of the area, he dated a layer of volcanic ash, known as the KBS Tuff, which rendered dates of 212-230 Ma.
(b) However, mammalian fossils later found below the KBS Tuff (specifically the infamous hominid fossil KNM-ER 1470 found in 1972) limited its age to only a few million years. New tests were done which then dated the Tuff at 2.61 million years, which Leakey used to date KNM-ER 1470 at 2.9 Ma.
(c) Ten years of fierce debate ensued, which landed the final date of the Tuff at 1.88 million years, in accord with the assumed age of several fossilized pig teeth. The whole scenario reveals the reality that 1) “index fossils” ultimately determine the age of rock strata, and 2) paleoanthropologists have a great degree of control over radiometric results by rejecting the dates that do not fit the evolution scenario of the fossils.
(4) Creationists are not the only ones who have recognized these dating conflicts. Some evolutionists have also published conflicting results:
(a) Hualalai, basalt (Hawaii, AD 1800-1801): 1.60 ± 0.16; 1.41 ± 0.08 Ma
(b) Mt. Etna, basalt (Sicily, 122 BC): 0.25 ± 0.08 Ma
(c) Mt. Etna, basalt (Sicily, AD 1792): 0.35 ± 0.08 Ma
(d) Mt. Lassen, plagioclase (California, AD 1915): 0.11 ± 0.3 Ma
(e) Sunset Crater, basalt (Arizona, AD 1064-1065): 0.27 ± 0.09; 0.25 ± 0.15 Ma
(f) Numerous other examples have also been published.
(5) Evolutionists explain this contradiction by arguing that “excess radiogenic argon” (symbolized 40Ar*) from the magma was retained in the rock when it solidified. However, there is no real way of telling the retained argon from the argon produced by the decay of potassium within the rock. This is an illogical excuse, which defies the very foundation of all radiometric dating: a known initial condition. If excess 40Ar* can cause exaggerated dates for rocks of known age, then why should we trust the method for rocks of unknown age?
 See Andrew A. Snelling, “Geochemical Processes in Mantle and Crust,” in L. Vardiman, A. A. Snelling, and E. F. Chaffin (eds.), Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: A Young-Earth Research Initiative (El Cajon/St. Joseph: Institute for Creation Research/Creation Research Society, 2000), chapter 5, pp. 123-304.
 At this rate, equilibrium (14C influx rate = 14C decay rate) would be reached in approximately 30,000 years, far too quickly for evolutionary timescales [see Willard F. Libby, Radiocarbon Dating (University of Chicago, 1955).].
 “There is strong indication, despite the large errors, that the present natural production rate exceeds the natural decay rate by as much as 25 percent.” [Richard Lingenfelter, “Production of C-14 by cosmic ray neutrons,” Reviews of Geophysics 1:51 (February 1963).]; see also Hans E. Suess, “Secular variations in the cosmic-ray produced carbon-14 in the atmosphere and their interpretations,” Journal of Geophysical Research, 70:5947 (1 December 1965).
 See Elizabeth K. Ralph and Henry M. Michael, “Twenty-five years of radiocarbon dating,” American Scientist, Sep/Oct 1974; see also two studies which show that the concentration has been increasing for at least 10,000 years in V. R. Switzer, “Radioactive dating and low-level counting,” Science 157:726 (11 August 1967).
 Viz.: 1) More 12C in the pre-Flood biosphere (i.e. more biomass, leading to higher atmospheric CO2), while the Flood would have buried much 12C, making the post-Flood 14C/12C ratio higher; 2) less 14C production due to a stronger magnetic field, better deflecting cosmic rays; 3) 14C starts building up at creation, so it would only have had 1,600 years to build up, nowhere near equilibrium; and 4) Volcanoes emit carbon dioxide with no 14C, and plants absorb this. [See John Woodmorappe, “Much-inflated carbon-14 dates from subfossil trees: A new mechanism,” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 15(3):43-44 (December 2001); archived at http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1801.]
 “For some inexplicable reason, the nuclei of certain elements become unstable and spontaneously release energy and/or particles.” [William D. Stansfield, Science of Evolution (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1977), 82.]
 F. Bosch, et al., “Observation of bound-state β-decay of fully ionized 187Re,” Physical Review Letters 77(26):5190-5193 (1996); see also Woodmorappe, “Billion-fold acceleration of radioactivity demonstrated in laboratory,” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 15(2):4-6 (August 2001); archived at http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1795.
 Specifically, potassium and uranium are easily dissolved in water, and so can be leached out of rocks. Likewise, lead atoms diffuse easily and argon, being a gas, moves quite readily. [See Andrew A. Snelling, “Geochemical Processes in Mantle and Crust,” Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, chapter 5, pp. 123-304.]
 “It is obvious that radiometric techniques may not be the absolute dating methods that they are claimed to be. Age estimates on a given geological stratum by different radiometric methods are often quite different (sometimes by hundreds of millions of years). There is no absolute reliable long-term radiological ‘clock.’” [Stansfield, Science of Evolution, 84.]
 John Woodmorappe, “Radiometric geochronology reappraised,” Creation Research Society Quarterly 16:102-129 (September 1979); for similar tests see R. H. Brown, “Graveyard clocks: Do they tell real time?” Signs of the Times, June 1982, 8-9.
 Geochron Laboratories is a high-quality, professional radioisotope-dating laboratory, one of the most respected commercial dating laboratories in the world. A portion of this sample was crushed and milled into a fine powder. Another piece was crushed and the various mineral crystals were carefully separated out. The “whole rock” rock powder and four mineral concentrates were submitted for potassium-argon analysis. The laboratory was not told that the specimen came from the lava dome at Mount St. Helens and was only 10 years old. The only information provided to the laboratory was that the samples came from dacite and that “low argon” should be expected to ensure that the laboratory would take extra care to keep out any form of contamination during analysis.
 Specifically, potassium-argon “ages” for whole rock and mineral concentrate samples are as follows (in millions of years): whole rock (plagioclase)–0.35 ± 0.06; feldspar–0.34 ± .02; amphibole–0.9 ± 0.2; pyroxene–1.7 ± 0.3; pyroxene ultra-concentrate–2.8 ± 0.6. Note also that the results from the different samples of the same rock disagree widely from each other.
 Andrew A. Snelling, “The cause of anomalous potassium-argon ‘ages’ for recent andesite flows at Mt Ngauruhoe, New Zealand, and the implications for potassium-argon ‘dating’,” in R. E. Walsh (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, 1998), 503-525; archived at http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=research&action=index&page=researchp_as_r01. For a less technical summary, see Andrew A. Snelling, “Radioactive ‘dating’ failure: Recent New Zealand lava flows yield ‘ages’ of millions of years,” Creation Ex Nihilo 22(1):18-21 (December 1999); archived at http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/242/.
 The samples were sent progressively, with one sample from each of the lava flows being sent and received before sending the next set. The laboratory was not given any specific information regarding the source of the rock samples, nor were they given any information as to the expected age of the sample. The samples were only described as probably very young with very little argon.
 Specifically their ages were as follows: four dated at “less than 270,000 years old,” one was dated at “less than 290,000 years old,” one was dated at “800,000 years old,” three were dated at “1 million years old,” one was dated at “1.3 million years old,” one was dated at “1.5 million years old,” and the last one was dated at “3.5 million years old.” All were said to have a margin of error of about 20 percent in either direction.
 Antares Mass Spectrometry Laboratory is a major research laboratory at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), near Sydney, Australia. Neither laboratory was told exactly where the samples came from to ensure that there would be no resultant bias. Both laboratories use the more sensitive accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) technique for radiocarbon analyses.
 The specific dates for the wood samples are as follows: 1) >35,620 (Geochron), 44,700 ± 950 (ANSTO); 2) 29,544 ± 759 (Geochron); 3) 37,800 ± 3,450 (ANSTO). The basalt samples are as follows (in millions of years): 1) 44.9 ± 1.1 (AMDEL), 2) 47.9 ± 1.6 (AMDEL), 39.1 ± 1.5 (Geochron); 3) 58.3 ± 2.0 (Geochron); 4) 36.7 ± 1.2 (Geochron).
 This measures the amount of another stable carbon isotope, 13C, which is about 1 percent of all carbon. Skeptics have questioned these results, but the laboratories’ staff had neither hesitation nor difficulties in calculating the 14C “ages”. When subsequently questioned regarding the limits of the analytical method for the radiocarbon and any possibility of contamination, staff at both laboratories were readily insistent that the results were within the detection limits and therefore provided quotable finite “ages”.
 Steven A. Austin and Andrew A. Snelling, “Discordant potassium-argon model and isochron ‘ages’ for Cardenas Basalt (Middle Proterozoic) and associated diabase of eastern Grand Canyon, Arizona,” in R. E. Walsh (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, 1998), 35-51; archived at http://www.icr.org/research/index/researchp_sa_r03/. For a less technical summary, see Steven A. Austin, “Excessively old ‘ages’ for Grand Canyon lava flows,” ICR Impact, 1 February 1992; archived at http://www.icr.org/article/353/.
 T. D. Ford, W. J. Breed, and J. S. Mitchell, “Name and Age of the Upper Precambrian Basalts in the Eastern Grand Canyon,” Geological Society of America Bulletin 83:223-226 (1972); see also E. E. Larson, et al., “Lithology, Chemistry, Age and Origin of the Proterozoic Cardenas Basalt, Grand Canyon, Arizona,” Precambrian Research 65:255-276 (1994).
 A recent study has reinforced this, showing three different methods producing conflicting “ages” [see Andrew A. Snelling, “Radioisotope dating of rocks in the Grand Canyon,” Creation Ex Nihilo 27(3):44-49 (June 2005); archived at http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4415/.
 Obviously no one believes this to be true, but such conflicting ages speaks eloquently of the great problems inherent in radioisotope dating. Because of the relatively widespread knowledge of Dr. Austin’s research, many mainstream geologists have publicly rejected these results, which do not agree with the commonly believed “right age” of the volcanoes. It speaks volumes about the way anomalous “dates” are accepted or rejected by the geological community.
 Marvin L. Lubenow, “The pigs took it all,” Creation Ex Nihilo 17(3):36-38 (June 1995); archived at http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1732/; see also Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, Revised ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 326-329.
 Kay Behrensmeyer, an early geologist with Richard Leakey, was the one who actually found the ash layer. The surrounding excavation was named the Kay Behrensmeyer Site, and the layer of volcanic ash, or “tuff,” thus became known as the KBS Tuff. In 1969 Leakey supplied rock samples to F. J. Fitch (Birkbeck College, University of London) and J. A. Miller (Cambridge University)—recognized authorities in potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating.
 Concerning this discrepancy, Fitch and Miller said, “From these results it was clear that an extraneous argon age discrepancy was present…” [F. J. Fitch and J. A. Miller, “Radioisotopic age determinations of Lake Rudolf artifact site,” Nature 226:226 (18 April 1970).] How did they know their was “extraneous argon” present in the tuff? The associated fossils told them. In spite of our being assured that dating methods constitute independent confirmation of evolutionary dates, associated fossils had already determined the “acceptable” dates. Under other circumstances, and without fossils to guide them, evolutionary geologists would have accepted the original dates as “good.”
 See D. C. Johanson and M. A. Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981), 240.
 However, they are the only ones to seriously question it. For a well-documented demonstration of many fallacies in radiometric dating and documentation of many other discordant “dates”, see John Woodmorappe, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods (El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research, 1999).
 These results are from G. B. Dalrymple, “40Ar/36Ar analysis of historic lava flows,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 6(1):47-55 (1969); other lists are given in D. Krummenacher, “Isotopic composition of argon in modern surface rocks,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 8(2):109-117 (April 1970); D. E. Fisher, “Excess rare gases in a subaerial basalt from Nigeria,” Nature Physical Science 232(29):60-61 (19 July 1971).
 See the 15 other examples citing secular sources in Andrew A. Snelling, “The cause of anomalous potassium-argon ‘ages’ for recent andesite flows at Mt Ngauruhoe, New Zealand, and the implications for potassium-argon ‘dating’,” in R. E. Walsh (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, 1998), 503-525; archived at http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=research&action=index&page=researchp_as_r01.
 The assumption of no radiogenic argon (40Ar*) when the rocks formed is usually stated dogmatically as self-evident—“The K-Ar method is the only decay scheme that can be used with little or no concern for the initial presence of the daughter isotope. This is because 40Ar is an inert gas that does not combine chemically with any other element and so escapes easily from rocks when they are heated. Thus, while a rock is molten the 40Ar formed by decay of 40K escapes from the liquid.” [G. B. Dalrymple, The Age of the Earth (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), 91] The blatant disregard for this rule is evidence that the “accepted” dates are based on the presupposed age of the rock.
 In summary, rocks are dated by the potassium-argon method (or any other method) according to the following formula: Age of rock ? = ((Ar in sample today) – (Ar in sample originally ? ) / (K in sample today)) x (Halflife of K). The argon in the sample today is observable; the potassium in the sample today is observable; and the half-life of potassium is observable. However, the age of the rock and the amount of argon in the sample originally are not observable. As a matter of basic algebra, a single equation with two unknown variables cannot be solved. If the scientist assumes that there was no argon in the rock when it was originally formed, but there was, then the scientist’s calculation will be far too high.