What is Radiometric Dating?

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What is radiometric dating?


Radiometric dating is a method of determining the age of igneous rocks (those formed by cooling lava or magma). These rocks encapsulate radioactive​​ isotopes. As they decay these isotopes (parent isotopes) change into a more stable isotope (daughter isotopes). For example –

Uranium 238 (parent) eventually decays into Lead 206 (daughter)


​​ The radioactive decay rate is measured by what is called the half-life, which is the amount of time it takes ½ of the remaining parent isotopes to decay​​ into the daughter isotopes.​​ Scientists have developed charts that show the half-life of most radioactive isotopes.​​ 

Measuring the number of daughter isotopes which is assumed to be the total number since the rock was formed, and knowing the decay rate allows a person to calculate how long it took for the daughter to form.​​ 

However, several assumptions must be made to arrive at the correct age of the rock.

Assumptions –​​ 

1.​​ The initial condition of the rock

2.​​ A constant decay rate

3.​​ No alteration of the parent or daughter isotopes

​​ These assumptions are necessary because no one was there when the rock was formed. No one observed the rock and determined the decay rate. And no one observed the rock from its existence to the present time to view if any outside forces affected the condition of the rock.


So, if anyone cites radiometric dating as proof of the age of the earth, you can point out these facts to dispute the idea of “billions of years”! It just ain’t so.​​ 


Watch this 3-minute​​ video​​ for a quick overview of radiometric dating.


For more information on radiometric dating, visit these websites –


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