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Problems with radioactive dating methods

It can't float in mid-air, particularly if the material involved is sand, mud, or molten rock.

The principle of superposition therefore has a clear implication for the age of a vertical succession of strata.

The layers of rock are known as "strata", and the study of their succession is known as "stratigraphy".

Fundamental to stratigraphy are a set of simple principles, based on elementary geometry, empirical observation of the way these rocks are deposited today, and gravity.

his document discusses the way radiometric dating and stratigraphic principles are used to establish the conventional geological time scale.

It is not about the theory behind radiometric dating methods, it is about their , and it therefore assumes the reader has some familiarity with the technique already (refer to "Other Sources" for more information).

Most of these principles were formally proposed by Nicolaus Steno (Niels Steensen, Danish), in 1669, although some have an even older heritage that extends as far back as the authors of the Bible.

A few principles were recognized and specified later.An early summary of them is found in Charles Lyell's .In no way are they meant to imply there are no exceptions.Despite this, the "principle of cross cutting relationships" can be used to determine the sequence of deposition, folds, and faults based on their intersections -- if folds and faults deform or cut across the sedimentary layers and surfaces, then they obviously came after deposition of the sediments.You can't deform a structure (e.g., bedding) that is not there yet!As an example of how they are used, radiometric dates from geologically simple, fossiliferous Cretaceous rocks in western North America are compared to the geological time scale.To get to that point, there is also a historical discussion and description of non-radiometric dating methods.The simplest situation for a geologist is a "layer cake" succession of sedimentary or extrusive igneous rock units arranged in nearly horizontal layers.In such a situation, the "principle of superposition" is easily applied, and the strata towards the bottom are older, those towards the top are younger.Geochronologists do not claim that radiometric dating is foolproof (no scientific method is), but it does work reliably for most samples.It is these highly consistent and reliable samples, rather than the tricky ones, that have to be falsified for "young Earth" theories to have any scientific plausibility, not to mention the need to falsify huge amounts of evidence from other techniques.

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