Fault of radiometric dating

Scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Laboratory of Columbia University at Palisades, N.Y., reported today in the British journal Nature that some estimates of age based on carbon analyses were wrong by as much as 3,500 years.The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will be deeper in a site than more recent layers, was the summary outcome of 'relative dating' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century.The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith.It refers to one specific source of error – the uncertainty in the measurement of the amounts of various atoms used in the analysis.Most likely, that is the least important source of error.

This is best illustrated by the radioactive age of a sample of diamonds from Zaire.

We will deal with carbon dating first and then with the other dating methods.

Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth.

The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah is a great example of Original Horizontality and the Law of Superposition, two important ideas used in relative dating.

These strata make up much of the famous prominent rock formations in widely spaced protected areas such as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

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