Carbon dating made easy

Deep inside the Inner Gorge of Grand Canyon, northern Arizona, are the crystalline basement rocks that probably date back even to the Creation Week itself.Clearly visible in the canyon walls are the light-colored granites, such as the Zoroaster Granite, which are stark against the darker, folded strata of the Vishnu Schist and the other metamorphic rock units of the Granite Gorge Metamorphic Suite (see lowest purple and green shading in diagram).The computer program Isoplot was used to plot isochrons and calculate isochron ages from the other radioisotope analyses.The best isochron plots, where all the variation from the line of best fit to the data incorporates all the analytical errors, yielded an Rb-Sr isochron age of 1240±84 Ma, an Sm-Nd isochron age of 1655±40 Ma, and a Pb-Pb isochron age of 1883±53 Ma.However, they are confirmation of the repeated failure of all the radioisotope "dating" methods to successfully date Grand Canyon rocks.

Results obtained usually signify the "date" of the metamorphism, but they may also yield the "age" of the original volcanic (or sedimentary) rock.And the K-Ar model "ages" are so widely divergent from one another (ranging from 405.1±10 Ma to 2574.2±73 Ma), even from very closely spaced samples from the same outcrop of the same original lava flow, as to be useless for "dating" any event.These discordant results could easily be dismissed as an isolated aberration, perhaps due to the uncertain effects of metamorphism and any subsequent alteration, especially during erosion and weathering.Both laboratories use standard, best-practice procedures on state-of-the-art equipment.The model K-Ar ages for each of the samples ranged from 405.1±10 Ma to 2574.2±73 Ma.

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The "age" or "date" is calculated from the amount of the daughter isotope produced by radioactive decay of the parent isotope.

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