Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale

Introduction Hominid or hominin? Some scientists use a broader definition of Hominidae which includes the great apes, and instead call the group I am discussing “hominins”. The word “hominid” in this website refers to members of the family of humans, Hominidae, which consists of all species on our side of the last common ancestor of humans and living apes. Hominids are included in the superfamily of all apes, the Hominoidea, the members of which are called hominoids. Although the hominid fossil record is far from complete, and the evidence is often fragmentary, there is enough to give a good outline of the evolutionary history of humans. The time of the split between humans and living apes used to be thought to have occurred 15 to 20 million years ago, or even up to 30 or 40 million years ago. Some apes occurring within that time period, such as Ramapithecus, used to be considered as hominids, and possible ancestors of humans.

Radiometric dating

Acknowledgements Introduction his document discusses the way radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are used to establish the conventional geological time scale. It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their application, and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already refer to “Other Sources” for more information.

As an example of how they are used, radiometric dates from geologically simple, fossiliferous Cretaceous rocks in western North America are compared to the geological time scale. To get to that point, there is also a historical discussion and description of non-radiometric dating methods. A common form of criticism is to cite geologically complicated situations where the application of radiometric dating is very challenging.

These are often characterised as the norm, rather than the exception.

Radiometric Dating. How radiometric dating works in general. Why methods in general are inaccurate. Why K-Ar dating is inaccurate. The branching ratio problem.

Mother and baby are deeply connected yet two very separate beings. God put many special features in place so that we could not only survive, but thrive! Chinese Pictographs Ancient Chinese pictographs have been around for thousands of years. Clues in the picture symbols show that the earliest Chinese words must have included basic historical facts from Genesis when the symbols were invented. Cambrian Explosion Cambrian rock layers contain nearly all the basic animal forms—with no trace of transitional fossils in lower Precambrian rocks.

But can any reliable methods determine the age of an object without a historical record? Dino Tracks Dinosaur tracks can be found on every continent! But just how did they form? But that estimate actually used isolated segments of DNA that we already share with chimps—not the whole genomes. Echolocation While bats live in air and dolphins live in water, both use a biological form of sonar technology called echolocation to see with sound!

The specifications in dolphin and bat biosonar systems are so many, so well-integrated, and so precise, could they really have developed at random in two completely different environments?


Dating techniques Photo by: Bastos Dating techniques are procedures used by scientists to determine the age of an object or a series of events. The two main types of dating methods are relative and absolute. Relative dating methods are used to determine only if one sample is older or younger than another. Absolute dating methods are used to determine an actual date in years for the age of an object.

Creation Versus Evolution: We compare the theory of evolution with the Bible’s creation account in easy-to-understand terms, using evidence from the fields of paleontology, geology, biology, and provide links and a bibliography for those who want to study both sides of the issue.

So, how do we know how old a fossil is? There are two main methods determining a fossils age, relative dating and absolute dating. Relative dating is used to determine a fossils approximate age by comparing it to similar rocks and fossils of known ages. Absolute dating is used to determine a precise age of a fossil by using radiometric dating to measure the decay of isotopes, either within the fossil or more often the rocks associated with it.

Relative Dating The majority of the time fossils are dated using relative dating techniques. Using relative dating the fossil is compared to something for which an age is already known. For example if you have a fossil trilobite and it was found in the Wheeler Formation. The Wheeler Formation has been previously dated to approximately million year old, so we know the trilobite is also about million years old.

Scientists can use certain types of fossils referred to as index fossils to assist in relative dating via correlation. Index fossils are fossils that are known to only occur within a very specific age range. Typically commonly occurring fossils that had a widespread geographic distribution such as brachiopods, trilobites, and ammonites work best as index fossils. If the fossil you are trying to date occurs alongside one of these index fossils, then the fossil you are dating must fall into the age range of the index fossil.

Index fossil

General considerations Distinctions between relative-age and absolute-age measurements Local relationships on a single outcrop or archaeological site can often be interpreted to deduce the sequence in which the materials were assembled. This then can be used to deduce the sequence of events and processes that took place or the history of that brief period of time as recorded in the rocks or soil. For example, the presence of recycled bricks at an archaeological site indicates the sequence in which the structures were built.

Similarly, in geology, if distinctive granitic pebbles can be found in the sediment beside a similar granitic body, it can be inferred that the granite, after cooling, had been uplifted and eroded and therefore was not injected into the adjacent rock sequence. Although with clever detective work many complex time sequences or relative ages can be deduced, the ability to show that objects at two separated sites were formed at the same time requires additional information.

A fossil is the remains or traces of a once-living plant or animal that was preserved in rock or other material before the beginning of recorded history. The term also is used to describe the fossil fuels (oil, coal, petroleum, and natural gas) that have been formed from the remains of ancient.

Radioactive decay[ edit ] Example of a radioactive decay chain from lead Pb to lead Pb. The final decay product, lead Pb , is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide. This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay emission of alpha particles and beta decay electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture. Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.

While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is unpredictable, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life , usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques. After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a “daughter” nuclide or decay product.

In many cases, the daughter nuclide itself is radioactive, resulting in a decay chain , eventually ending with the formation of a stable nonradioactive daughter nuclide; each step in such a chain is characterized by a distinct half-life. In these cases, usually the half-life of interest in radiometric dating is the longest one in the chain, which is the rate-limiting factor in the ultimate transformation of the radioactive nuclide into its stable daughter.

Isotopic systems that have been exploited for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from only about 10 years e.


Anabaena The Three Domains of Life As previously noted, stromatolites are most often described as biogenically-produced structures formed by colonies of photosynthesizing cyanobacteria. However, this is an enormous oversimplification given that the weight of scientific evidence suggests that all three domains of life the Archaeans, Eubacteria, and Eukaryotes appeared in the Archaean Era, and thus the so-called microbial mats would have contained representatives among all three domains.

Just how and when the base of the tree of life split into the three main branches remains one of the most important questions in all of biology and science, and is the source of constant scientific dispute. Which of the prokaryotes came first, the Archaeans or the Eubacteria remains unresolved, and a consensus has emerged that these primitive microorganisms laterally exchanged genes further confounding attempts to validate what begat what during to course of early evolution on earth.

Lateral gene transfer belies the concept of the single common ancestor see Woese, While formation by colonies of cyanobacteria is probably the primary mechanism for formation of surviving stromatolites in the deep time of the Archaean and half way through the Proterozoic, it is unlikely to have been the only mechanism.

Index fossil, any animal or plant preserved in the rock record of the Earth that is characteristic of a particular span of geologic time or environment.A useful index fossil must be distinctive or easily recognizable, abundant, and have a wide geographic distribution and a short range through time. Index fossils are the basis for defining boundaries in the geologic time scale and for the.

Human Evolution Evidence Evidence of Evolution Scientists have discovered a wealth of evidence concerning human evolution , and this evidence comes in many forms. Thousands of human fossils enable researchers and students to study the changes that occurred in brain and body size, locomotion, diet, and other aspects regarding the way of life of early human species over the past 6 million years.

Millions of stone tools, figurines and paintings, footprints, and other traces of human behavior in the prehistoric record tell about where and how early humans lived and when certain technological innovations were invented. Study of human genetics show how closely related we are to other primates — in fact, how connected we are with all other organisms — and can indicate the prehistoric migrations of our species, Homo sapiens, all over the world. Advances in the dating of fossils and artifacts help determine the age of those remains, which contributes to the big picture of when different milestones in becoming human evolved.

Exciting scientific discoveries continually add to the broader and deeper public knowledge of human evolution.

Fossil and Fossilization

Until recent years, scientists who believe in creation haven’t had the necessary resources to explore radiometric dating in detail. A 10 gram sample of U Now that has changed, and some important discoveries are being made. When granite rock hardens, it freezes radioactive elements in place. The most common radioactive element in granite is Uranium This element is locked in tiny zircons within the granite.

Dating Calculator: To find the percent of Carbon 14 remaining after a given number of years, type in the number of years and click on Calculate.

January Fossils provide a record of the history of life. Smith is known as the Father of English Geology. Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods. Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.

Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating. These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views. Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data. The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Millions of fossils have been discovered.

Carbon 14 Dating Calculator

Early trace of life from 3. CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links. A Canadian-led study aims to settle the controversy over extraordinary Arctic fossils that represent the oldest known sexually reproducing organism and the oldest multicellular organism that used photosynthesis. The fossil organism identified as a red algae called Bangiomorpha pubescens, found in rocks on Somerset Island and Baffin Island in Nunavut, was discovered more than two decades ago and estimated to be between million and 1.

But the fact that its age could have been anywhere in a million year span led to some controversy.

A guide to conserving the scientific value of fossils.

The Radiometric Dating Game Radiometric dating methods estimate the age of rocks using calculations based on the decay rates of radioactive elements such as uranium, strontium, and potassium. On the surface, radiometric dating methods appear to give powerful support to the statement that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years. We are told that these methods are accurate to a few percent, and that there are many different methods. We are told that of all the radiometric dates that are measured, only a few percent are anomalous.

This gives us the impression that all but a small percentage of the dates computed by radiometric methods agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found, and that all of these various methods almost always give ages that agree with each other to within a few percentage points. Since there doesn’t seem to be any systematic error that could cause so many methods to agree with each other so often, it seems that there is no other rational conclusion than to accept these dates as accurate.

However, this causes a problem for those who believe based on the Bible that life has only existed on the earth for a few thousand years, since fossils are found in rocks that are dated to be over million years old by radiometric methods, and some fossils are found in rocks that are dated to be billions of years old. If these dates are correct, this calls the Biblical account of a recent creation of life into question.

After study and discussion of this question, I now believe that the claimed accuracy of radiometric dating methods is a result of a great misunderstanding of the data, and that the various methods hardly ever agree with each other, and often do not agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found.

Everything Worth Knowing About Scientific Dating Methods

At the time that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be million years old. By , it was found to be 1. In , science firmly established that the earth was 3. Finally in , it was discovered that the earth is “really” 4.

A Radiometric Dating Resource List Tim Thompson has collected a large set of links to web pages that discuss radiometric dating techniques and the age of the earth controversy.

Everything Worth Knowing About Scientific Dating Methods This dating scene is dead. The good dates are confirmed using at least two different methods, ideally involving multiple independent labs for each method to cross-check results. Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. Methods fall into one of two categories: These methods — some of which are still used today — provide only an approximate spot within a previously established sequence: Think of it as ordering rather than dating.

Relative and Absolute Dating