Pb-Pb Isochron Dating After Patterson, There are a number of useful isotope systems which constitute clocks in the rocks and are useful for geologic dating. But if asked what is the most reliable and precise method for dating the Earth and meteorites, Brent Dalyrymple would point to lead isochrons. He calls the lead method “the hourglass of the solar system”. The current approach to plotting Pb-Pb isochrons is referred to as the Holmes-Houtermans method. The above diagram from Patterson represented a major breakthrough in the use of lead isochrons when it was published in It presented the analysis of three stony meteorites and two iron meteorites and showed that they fell on the same isochron. In addition, it showed that a sample of modern ocean sediment fell on the same isochron. Besides offering confirmation of the meteorite age that had been approached in many studies, it offered evidence that meteorites and the Earth are closely related and of the same age.
Slowly and painstakingly, geologists have assembled this record into the generalized geologic time scale shown in Figure 1. This was done by observing the relative age sequence of rock units in a given area and determining, from stratigraphic relations, which rock units are younger, which are older, and what assemblages of fossils are contained in each unit.
Using fossils to correlate from area to area, geologists have been able to work out a relative worldwide order of rock formations and to divide the rock record and geologic time into the eras, periods, and epochs shown in Figure 1.
At the time that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be million years old. By , it was found to be 1. In , science firmly established that the earth was 3. Finally in , it was discovered that the earth is “really” 4. In these early studies the order of sedimentary rocks and structures were used to date geologic time periods and events in a relative way.
At first, the use of “key” diagnostic fossils was used to compare different areas of the geologic column. Although there were attempts to make relative age estimates, no direct dating method was available until the twentieth century. However, before this time some very popular indirect methods were available. For example, Lord Kelvin had estimated the ages of both the Earth and the Sun based on cooling rates. The answer of 25 million years deduced by Kelvin was not received favorably by geologists.
Both the physical geologists and paleontologists could point to evidence that much more time was needed to produce what they saw in the stratigraphic and fossil records. As one answer to his critics, Kelvin produced a completely independent estimate — this time for the age of the Sun. His result was in close agreement with his estimate of the age of the earth.
Radiometric Dating Methods
Reference to a case where the given method did not work This is perhaps the most common objection of all. Creationists point to instances where a given method produced a result that is clearly wrong, and then argue that therefore all such dates may be ignored. Such an argument fails on two counts: First, an instance where a method fails to work does not imply that it does not ever work.
The question is not whether there are “undatable” objects, but rather whether or not all objects cannot be dated by a given method. The fact that one wristwatch has failed to keep time properly cannot be used as a justification for discarding all watches.
The isochron method of dating is perhaps the most logically sound of all the dating methods – at first approximation. This method seems to have internal measures to weed out those specimens that are not adequate for radiometric evaluation.
The isochron method Many radioactive dating methods are based on minute additions of daughter products to a rock or mineral in which a considerable amount of daughter-type isotopes already exists. These isotopes did not come from radioactive decay in the system but rather formed during the original creation of the elements. In this case, it is a big advantage to present the data in a form in which the abundance of both the parent and daughter isotopes are given with respect to the abundance of the initial background daughter.
The incremental additions of the daughter type can then be viewed in proportion to the abundance of parent atoms. In mathematical terms this is achieved as follows. This term, shown in Figure 1, is called the initial ratio.
Paul Giem Abstract The isochron method of dating is used in multiple radiometric dating systems. An explanation of the method and its rationale are given. Mixing lines, an alternative explanation for apparent isochron lines are explained. Mixing lines do not require significant amounts of time to form. Possible ways of distinguishing mixing lines from isochron lines are explored, including believability, concordance with the geological time scale or other radiometric dates, the presence or absence of mixing hyperbolae, and the believability of daughter and reference isotope homogenization.
Now, compounds of uranium are often highly soluble in water (this, indeed, is one of the major problems with U-Pb isochron dating) whereas compounds of lead are stubbornly insoluble. As a result, we expect speleothems when they are first formed to contain some uranium but little or no lead — just like zircons.
As evident by the equation, initial Pb isotope ratios, as well as the age of the system are the two factors which determine the present day Pb isotope compositions. This was first established by Nier et al. The Pb ratios of three stony and two iron meteorites were measured. By dating meteorites Patterson was directly dating the age of various planetesimals. As planetesimals collided, various fragments were scattered and produced meteorites. Iron meteorites were identified as pieces of the core, while stony meteorites were segments of the mantle and crustal units of these various planetesimals.
Iron meteorite found in Canyon Diablo Meteorite impact Figure 1. Pb—Pb isochron diagram Samples of iron meteorite from Canyon Diablo Meteor Crater Arizona were found to have the least radiogenic composition of any material in the solar system. Therefore, troilite found in Canyon Diablo represents the primeval lead isotope composition of the solar system, dating back to 4.
The Age of the Earth
This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays kings, ruins town, And beats high mountain down. This riddle exemplifies how time normally results in decay and destruction. So, why are people so interested in the topic of time? Perhaps the biggest reason is because of evil: Humans have a limited lifespan to get things done, so we try to synchronize schedules in order not to waste time.
A dating method which uses such a plot to determine age is called an “isochron dating method.” When “isochron dating” is mentioned in this FAQ, the intent is to cover the methodology which is common to all “isochron dating methods.”.
Holmes-Houtermans System for Lead Isochrons The lead-lead isochron method for determining the age of ancient rocks including meteorites is generally thought to be the most reliable and precise method for such dating. Dalrymple calls the lead method “the hourglass of the solar system”. Many years of painstaking research has gone into establishing what is commonly called the Holmes-Houtermans System.
The two series proceed to different final lead isotopes: Different growth curves are formed with different amounts of U in the mineral at the time of crystallization. But the points on the different growth curves of the mineral constituents of an undisturbed rock will lie along a straight line, an “isochron”. The slope of this isochron is a measure of the time T since the crystallization or formation of the rock from a melted state.
In a molten state, the different isotopes would have formed an equilibrium mixture because they are chemically identical. The development of the Holmes-Houtermans approach follows the basics of radioactive decay acting as a clock. Even though the decay of U to Pb goes through about 14 steps, it all eventually reaches that endpoint and may be reasonably characterized by an effective halflife of 4. Since the present values of uranium and lead are measured, it is customary to let the clock run backward and model the process as an exponential increase of uranium.
Since the Pb is used as a standard, all quantities are expressed as ratios to the Pb content. A growth curve for the Pb can then be developed, based on the experimental U content. The process is the same for U , yielding the growth curve for Pb In these growth curves of the lead isotopic ratios with time, a0 and b0 are the lead isotopic ratios at the time of formation T:
References Generic Radiometric Dating The simplest form of isotopic age computation involves substituting three measurements into an equation of four variables, and solving for the fourth. The equation is the one which describes radioactive decay: The variables in the equation are: Pnow – The quantity of the parent isotope that remains now. This is measured directly. Porig – The quantity of the parent isotope that was originally present.
People who ask about carbon (14 C) dating usually want to know about the radiometric dating methods that are claimed to give millions and billions of years—carbon dating can only give thousands of years. People wonder how millions of years could be squeezed into the biblical account of.
The isotopes[ edit ] There are a number of isotopes of interest in U-Pb dating. It has a half-life of 4. It is also useful to know of the existence of Pb lead , which is neither unstable nor radiogenic. Isochron dating and U-Pb[ edit ] We can always try U-Pb dating using the isochron method , but this often doesn’t work: There seem to be two reasons for this. First of all, the straight-line property of the isochron diagram is destroyed when the isotopes involved get shuffled between minerals.
Now lead and uranium are particularly susceptible to such shuffling in the event of even mild metamorphism. The other problem is that uranium is particularly susceptible to weathering. Now since all rocks are somewhat porous, and since we are pretty much obliged to date rocks from near the surface, it’s hard to find instances in which uranium has not been lost. Zircons[ edit ] Zircon. Zircon is the mineral Zr Si O 4; as you can see from its chemical formula, it is one of the silicate minerals.