Carbon dating failure
No matter what the radiometric date turned out to be, our geologist would always be able to ‘interpret’ it.He would simply change his assumptions about the history of the rock to explain the result in a plausible way. Wasserburg, who received the 1986 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences, said, ‘There are no bad chronometers, only bad interpretations of them!The field relationships are generally broad, and a wide range of ‘dates’ can be interpreted as the time when the lava solidified.What would our geologist have thought if the date from the lab had been greater than 200 million years, say 350.5 ± 4.3 million years?by Tas Walker A geologist works out the relative age of a rock by carefully studying where the rock is found in the field.
By looking at other outcrops in the area, our geologist is able to draw a geological map which records how the rocks are related to each other in the field.He may suggest that some other very old material had contaminated the lava as it passed through the earth.Or he may suggest that the result was due to a characteristic of the lava—that the dyke had inherited an old ‘age’. 200.4 ± 3.2 million years) implies that the calculated date of 200.4 million years is accurate to plus or minus 3.2 million years.He would say that the date represents the time when the volcanic lava solidified.
Such an interpretation fits nicely into the range of what he already believes the age to be.
Would he have concluded that the fossil date for the sediments was wrong? Would he have thought that the radiometric dating method was flawed? Instead of questioning the method, he would say that the radiometric date was not recording the time that the rock solidified.