Addresses of All Authors
Micah Beachy, Cedarville University, 251 N. Main St., Cedarville, OH 45314
Benjamin Kinard, Cedarville University, 251 N. Main St., Cedarville, OH 45314
Paul Garner, Biblical Creation Trust, P.O. Box 325, Ely, CB7 5YH United Kingdom
Micah Beachy is a sophomore B.S. Geology student at Cedarville University.
Benjamin Kinard is a sophomore B.S. Computer Engineering student at Cedarville University.
Paul Garner is a full-time Researcher and Lecturer for Biblical Creation Trust in the UK. He has an MSc in Geoscience from University College London, where he specialised in palaeobiology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a member of several other scientific societies. He is the author of two books, The New Creationism: Building Scientific Theories on a Biblical Foundation (Evangelical Press, 2009) and Fossils and the Flood: Exploring Lost Worlds with Science and Scripture (New Creation, 2021). He is co-host of the fortnightly podcast, Let’s Talk Creation, with Dr Todd Wood.
Full Paper Presentation
In young-earth analyses of radioisotope age discordance, there have not yet been statistical studies involving age information for large numbers of rock units at a time. Austin (2005), Snelling (2005) and others have published in-depth studies of discordance on individual rock units, including new radioisotope ages based on their own samples. This was a logical approach because it maximized the number of ages per rock unit and eliminated the potential “file drawer” problem where ages that differ wildly from the expected values may be less likely to be published. Nevertheless, we believe it is time for a larger-scale project that uses published data from many different rock units. As Snelling anticipated, some have responded to his work with the claim that the discordance he found is atypical. His proposed solution was a literature study such as our project (Snelling 2005, p. 464). In his 2002 book Faith, Form, and Time, Wise stated that, “If accurate, each radiometric method should produce the same radiometric age. In actuality, however, multiple methods usually yield multiple, non-overlapping ages” (p. 63). He proceeded to cite the National Geochronological Database. Our proposed study is intended both as an extension of Austin’s and Snelling’s work and as a statistical test of Wise’s claim.
The National Geochronological Database (Zartman et al., 2003) was created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to provide a central location for published radioisotope ages of rocks from across the United States. With over 18,000 records and 30,000 K-Ar, Rb-Sr, U-Pb, Sm-Nd, and fission track ages, it is estimated to contain half of the radioisotope ages published through 1991. We are using the 2003 version of the database, and although a slight revision was released in 2011 the differences are so minor that both currently available on the USGS website.
Our analysis of the National Geochronological Database involves looking for frequency and degree of discordance as well as any related trends that we deem worthy of reporting. We are considering an attempt to devise a concordance metric that would combine the different age and error values for a rock unit into a single value, which could then be compared across multiple rock units. In searching for trends, our primary goal is to determine whether the radioisotope discordance patterns described by Austin (2005) and Snelling (2005) hold true across a larger number of rock units. Thus, some of the factors we will look at include the mode of decay, atomic weight of the parent isotope, present decay rate, and rock and mineral type. Analyzing these variables should allow us to discover with greater statistical confidence which factors, if any, have a significant correlation with the concordance of calculated ages. We hope our results will aid in the development of a more complete young earth understanding of radioisotope data.
We expect that other creationists will be greatly interested in our results. So far, we have identified the 34 rock units with age information from three or more methods and have run statistical analyses comparing each method to each of the others. These initial findings appear to support the observations of Wise and Snelling.
radioisotope dating, geochronology, concordance, discordance, concordance metric, accelerated decay, USGS National Geochronological Database
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Beachy, Micah D.; Kinard, Benjamin R.; and Garner, Paul A.
"How Often Do Radioisotope Ages Agree? A Preliminary Study of 29,000 Radioisotope Ages in the USGS National Geochronological Database,"
Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism: Vol. 9, Article 30.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/icc_proceedings/vol9/iss1/30