Radiocarbon dating age of the earth

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While a number of Answers in Genesis (Ai G) articles related to radiometric dating have focused on discordant ages obtained from igneous suites (such as K/Ar dates obtained from volcanic flows, see last post), I have found that the most intriguing claims deal with the radiocarbon, or 14-C, dating method.

The reason is that Ai G authors do not simply try and persuade their readers to discount this method as wholly unreliable (even when the ages obtained exceed 10,000 years) but actually present the results as positive evidence for a young Earth.

However, this is not out of ignorance on anyone’s part.

The radiocarbon method is often used as a starting point for understanding radiometric dating techniques, especially in classes unrelated to geology, because: 1) most are familiar with Carbon, as opposed to elements like Osmium, Neodymium, Rubidium, Thorium, etc.; 2) the technique is relatively easy to understand (try explaining a U-Pb concordia over dinner, if you don’t believe me); and 3) the method is used in historical studies, such as the dating of artifacts or trees, which can be confirmed by more ‘tangible’ witnesses like tree ring counts (Sakurai et al., 2004).

The half-life is the time taken for an amount of a radioactive isotope to decay to half its original value.

Because this decay is constant it can be used as a “clock” to measure elapsed time assuming the starting amount is known.

Production and decay 14C atoms are produced in the upper atmosphere where neutrons from cosmic rays knock a proton from nitrogen-14 atoms.Some of these rocks are sedimentary, and include minerals which are themselves as old as 4.1 to 4.2 billion years.Rocks of this age are relatively rare, however rocks that are at least 3.5 billion years in age have been found on North America, Greenland, Australia, Africa, and Asia.Radioactive carbon (Carbon 14) is formed in the upper atmosphere as a byproduct of cosmic radiation.Cosmic rays are positively charged atoms moving at enormous speeds.

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