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Friday, September 13, 2013

Dealing with Carbon14 dating and the real results AND the rapid flow of magma confirms the Flood story.

Carbon-14 Dating—Understanding the Basics

By Andrew Snelling - September 14, 2010

Many people assume that rocks are dated at “millions of years” based on radiocarbon (carbon-14) dating. But that’s not the case. The reason is simple. Carbon-14 can yield dates of only “thousands of years” before it all breaks down.
The most well-known of all the radiometric dating methods is radiocarbon dating. Although many people think radiocarbon dating is used to date rocks, it is limited to dating things that contain the element carbon and were once alive (like fossils).

(Radar note:  Parts two and three are linked for you but not included in this can easily read the rest of the story from Snelling's part two and three)

How Radiocarbon Forms

Unlike radiocarbon (14C), the other radioactive elements used to date rocks—uranium (238U), potassium (40K), and rubidium (87Rb)—are not being formed on earth, as far as we know. Thus it appears that God probably created those elements when He made the original earth.
In contrast, radiocarbon forms continually today in the earth’s upper atmosphere. And as far as we know, it has been forming in the earth’s upper atmosphere since the atmosphere was made back on Day Two of Creation Week (part of the expanse, or firmament, described in Genesis 1:6–8).
So how does radiocarbon form? Cosmic rays from outer space are continually bombarding the upper atmosphere of the earth, producing fast-moving neutrons (subatomic particles carrying no electric charge) (Figure 1a).1 These fast-moving neutrons collide with atoms of nitrogen-14, the most abundant element in the upper atmosphere, converting them into radiocarbon (carbon-14) atoms.
Carbon-14 Cycle
CARBON-14 IS CREATED (Figure 1a): When cosmic rays bombard the earth’s atmosphere, they produce neutrons. These excited neutrons then collide with nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere, changing them into radioactive carbon-14 atoms.

CARBON-14 IS ABSORBED (Figure 1b): Plants absorb this carbon-14 during photosynthesis. When animals eat the plants, the carbon-14 enters their bodies. The carbon-14 in their bodies breaks down to nitrogen-14 and escapes at the same rate as new carbon-14 is added. So the level of carbon-14 remains stable.

CARBON-14 IS DEPLETED (Figure 1c): When an animal dies the carbon-14 continues to break down to nitrogen-14 and escapes, while no new carbon-14 is added. By comparing the surviving amount of carbon-14 to the original amount, scientists can calculate how long ago the animal died.

Since the atmosphere is composed of about 78% nitrogen,2 a lot of radiocarbon atoms are produced—in total about 16.5 pounds (7.5 kg) per year. These rapidly combine with oxygen atoms (the second most abundant element in the atmosphere, at 21%) to form carbon dioxide (CO2).
This carbon dioxide, now radioactive with carbon-14, is otherwise chemically indistinguishable from the normal carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is slightly lighter because it contains normal carbon-12. Radioactive and non-radioactive carbon dioxide mix throughout the atmosphere, and dissolve into the oceans.
Through photosynthesis carbon dioxide enters plants and algae, bringing radiocarbon into the food chain. Radiocarbon then enters animals as they consume the plants (Figure 1b). So even we humans are radioactive because of trace amounts of radiocarbon in our bodies.

Determining the Rate of Radiocarbon Decay

After radiocarbon forms, the nuclei of the carbon-14 atoms are unstable, so over time they progressively decay back to nuclei of stable nitrogen-14.3 A neutron breaks down to a proton and an electron, and the electron is ejected. This process is called beta decay. The ejected electrons are called beta particles and make up what is called beta radiation.
Because it breaks down quickly, carbon-14 is useful for dating creatures that died in the past few thousand years, not millions of years ago.
Not all radiocarbon atoms decay at the same time. Different carbon-14 atoms revert to nitrogen-14 at different times, which explains why radiocarbon decay is considered a random process.
To measure the rate of decay, a suitable detector records the number of beta particles ejected from a measured quantity of carbon over a period of time, say a month (for illustration purposes). Since each beta particle represents one decayed carbon-14 atom, we know how many carbon-14 atoms decay during a month.
Chemists have already determined how many atoms are in a given mass of each element, such as carbon.4 So if we weigh a lump of carbon, we can calculate how many carbon atoms are in it.
If we know what fraction of the carbon atoms are radioactive, we can also calculate how many radiocarbon atoms are in the lump. Knowing the number of atoms that decayed in our sample over a month, we can calculate the radiocarbon decay rate.
The standard way of expressing the decay rate is called the half-life.5 It’s defined as the time it takes half a given quantity of a radioactive element to decay. So if we started with 2 million atoms of carbon-14 in our measured quantity of carbon, then the half-life of radiocarbon would be the time it takes for half, or 1 million, of those atoms to decay. The radiocarbon half-life or decay rate has been determined at 5,730 years.

Using Radiocarbon for Dating

Next comes the question of how scientists use this knowledge to date things. If carbon-14 has formed at a constant rate for a very long time and continually mixed into the biosphere, then the level of carbon-14 in the atmosphere should remain constant.
If the level is constant, living plants and animals should also maintain a constant carbon-14 level in them. The reason is that, as long as the organism is alive, it replaces any carbon molecule that has decayed into nitrogen.
After plants and animals perish, however, they no longer replace molecules damaged by radiocarbon decay. Instead, the radiocarbon atoms in their bodies slowly decay away, so the ratio of carbon-14 atoms to regular carbon atoms will steadily decrease over time (Figure 1c).
Let’s suppose we find a mammoth’s skull and we want to date it to determine how long ago it lived. We can measure in the laboratory how many carbon-14 atoms are still in the skull. If we assume that the mammoth originally had the same number of carbon- 14 atoms in its bones as living animals do today (estimated at one carbon-14 atom for every trillion carbon-12 atoms), then, because we also know the radiocarbon decay rate, we can calculate how long ago the mammoth died. It’s really quite simple.
This dating method is similar to the principle behind an hourglass.6 The sand grains that originally filled the top bowl represent the carbon-14 atoms in the living mammoth just before it died. It’s assumed to be the same number of carbon-14 atoms as in elephants living today. With time those sand grains fall to the bottom bowl, so the new number represents the carbon-14 atoms left in the mammoth skull when we found it.
The difference in the number of sand grains represents the number of carbon-14 atoms that have decayed back to nitrogen-14 since the mammoth died. Because we have measured the rate at which the sand grains fall (the radiocarbon decay rate), we can then calculate how long it took those carbon-14 atoms to decay, which is how long ago the mammoth died.
That’s how the radiocarbon method works. And because the half-life of carbon-14 is just 5,730 years, radiocarbon dating of materials containing carbon yields dates of only thousands of years, not the dates over millions of years that conflict with the framework of earth history provided by the Bible, God’s eyewitness account of history.
Dr. Andrew Snelling holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney and has worked as a consultant research geologist to organizations in both Australia and America. Author of numerous scientific articles, Dr. Snelling is now director of research at Answers in Genesis–USA.


  1. S. Bowman, Interpreting the Past: Radiocarbon Dating (London: British Museum Publications, 1990). Back
  2. S. S. Zumdahl, Chemical Principles, 2nd edition (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and Company, 1995), p.171. Back
  3. A. Dickin, Radiogenic Isotope Geology, 2nd edition (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 383–398. Back
  4. Ref. 2, p. 55, 1995. For radiocarbon this number is ~6.022 x 1023atoms per 14 grams of carbon-14. Back
  5. G. Faure and T. M. Mensing, Isotopes: Principles and Applications, 3rd edition (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), pp. 614–625. Back
  6. A. A. Snelling, “Radiometric Dating: Back to Basics,” Answers 4.3 (2009): 72–75. Back
Dr. Snelling's three part series is a thorough treatment of the concept of REAL carbon-14 dating. This is part of the evidence Darwinists do not want you to know!  Dr. Snelling is part of the RATE team that has made discoveries that have helped nail down the actual age of the Earth.  A summary of findings of RATE teams follows the next article.

Background below on the carbon dating issue from one of the world's finest experts on the tectonic plates of the Earth as well as another RATE team member, Dr. John Baumgardner:

Carbon Dating Undercuts Evolution's Long Ages

Evolutionists generally feel secure even in the face of compelling creationist arguments today because of their utter confidence in the geological time scale. Even if they cannot provide a naturalistic mechanism, they appeal to the "fact of evolution," by which they mean an interpretation of earth history with a succession of different types of plants and animals in a drama spanning hundreds of millions of years.
The Bible, by contrast, paints a radically different picture of our planet's history. In particular, it describes a time when God catastrophically destroyed the earth and essentially all its life. The only consistent way to interpret the geological record in light of this event is to understand that fossil-bearing rocks are the result of a massive global Flood that occurred only a few thousand years ago and lasted but a year. This Biblical interpretation of the rock record implies that the animals and plants preserved as fossils were all contemporaries. This means trilobites, dinosaurs, and mammals all dwelled on the planet simultaneously, and they perished together in this world-destroying cataclysm.
Although creationists have long pointed out the rock formations themselves testify unmistakably to water catastrophism on a global scale, evolutionists generally have ignored this testimony. This is partly due to the legacy of the doctrine of uniformitarianism passed down from one generation of geologists to the next since the time of Charles Lyell in the early nineteenth century. Uniformitarianism assumes that the vast amount of geological change recorded in the rocks is the product of slow and uniform processes operating over an immense span of time, as opposed to a global cataclysm of the type described in the Bible and other ancient texts.
With the discovery of radioactivity about a hundred years ago, evolutionists deeply committed to the uniformitarian outlook believed they finally had proof of the immense antiquity of the earth. In particular, they discovered the very slow nuclear decay rates of elements like Uranium while observing considerable amounts of the daughter products from such decay. They interpreted these discoveries as vindicating both uniformitarianism and evolution, which led to the domination of these beliefs in academic circles around the world throughout the twentieth century.
However, modern technology has produced a major fly in that uniformitarian ointment. A key technical advance, which occurred about 25 years ago, involved the ability to measure the ratio of 14C atoms to 12C atoms with extreme precision in very small samples of carbon, using an ion beam accelerator and a mass spectrometer. Prior to the advent of this accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) method, the 14C/12C ratio was measured by counting the number of 14C decays. This earlier method was subject to considerable "noise" from cosmic rays.
The AMS method improved the sensitivity of the raw measurement of the 14C/12C ratio from approximately 1% of the modern value to about 0.001%, extending the theoretical range of sensitivity from about 40,000 years to about 90,000 years. The expectation was that this improvement in precision would make it possible to use this technique to date dramatically older fossil material.1 The big surprise, however, was that no fossil material could be found anywhere that had as little as 0.001% of the modern value!2 Since most of the scientists involved assumed the standard geological time scale was correct, the obvious explanation for the 14C they were detecting in their samples was contamination from some source of modern carbon with its high level of14C. Therefore they mounted a major campaign to discover and eliminate the sources of such contamination. Although they identified and corrected a few relatively minor sources of 14C contamination, there still remained a significant level of 14C—typically about 100 times the ultimate sensitivity of the instrument—in samples that should have been utterly "14C-dead," including many from the deeper levels of the fossil-bearing part of the geological record.2
Let us consider what the AMS measurements imply from a quantitative standpoint. The ratio of 14C atoms to 12C atoms decreases by a factor of 2 every 5730 years. After 20 half-lives or 114,700 years (assuming hypothetically that earth history goes back that far), the 14C/12C ratio is decreased by a factor of 220, or about 1,000,000. After 1.5 million years, the ratio is diminished by a factor of 21500000/5730, or about 1079. This means that if one started with an amount of pure 14C equal to the mass of the entire observable universe, after 1.5 million years there should not be a single atom of 14C remaining! Routinely finding 14C/12C ratios on the order of 0.1-0.5% of the modern value—a hundred times or more above the AMS detection threshold—in samples supposedly tens to hundreds of millions of years old is therefore a huge anomaly for the uniformitarian framework.
This earnest effort to understand this "contamination problem" therefore generated scores of peer-reviewed papers in the standard radiocarbon literature during the last 20 years.2 Most of these papers acknowledge that most of the 14C in the samples studied appear to be intrinsic to the samples themselves, and they usually offer no explanation for its origin. The reality of significant levels of 14C in a wide variety of fossil sources from throughout the geological record has thus been established in the secular scientific literature by scientists who assume the standard geological time scale is valid and have no special desire for this result!
In view of the profound significance of these AMS 14C measurements, the ICR Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE) team has undertaken its own AMS 14C analyses of such fossil material.2 The first set of samples consisted of ten coals obtained from the U. S. Department of Energy Coal Sample Bank maintained at the Pennsylvania State University. The ten samples include three coals from the Eocene part of the geological record, three from the Cretaceous, and four from the Pennsylvanian. These samples were analyzed by one of the foremost AMS laboratories in the world. Figure 1 below shows in histogram form the results of these analyses.
These values fall squarely within the range already established in the peer-reviewed radiocarbon literature. When we average our results over each geological interval, we obtain remarkably similar values of 0.26 percent modern carbon (pmc) for Eocene, 0.21 pmc for Cretaceous, and 0.27 pmc for Pennsylvanian. Although the number of samples is small, we observe little difference in 14C level as a function of position in the geological record. This is consistent with the young-earth view that the entire macrofossil record up to the upper Cenozoic is the product of the Genesis Flood and therefore such fossils should share a common 14C age.
Figure 1. Histogram representation of 14C analysis of RATE coal samples.  Coal 14C AMS Results  Mean: 0.247   Std dev: 0.109
Percent Modern Carbon
Applying the uniformitarian approach of extrapolating 14C decay into the indefinite past translates the measured 14C/12C ratios into ages that are on the order of 50,000 years (2-50000/5730 = 0.0024 = 0.24 pmc). However, uniformitarian assumptions are inappropriate when one considers that the Genesis Flood removed vast amounts of living biomass from exchange with the atmosphere—organic material that now forms the earth's vast coal, oil, and oil shale deposits. A conservative estimate for the pre-Flood biomass is 100 times that of today. If one takes as a rough estimate for the total14C in the biosphere before the cataclysm as 40% of what exists today and assumes a relatively uniform 14C level throughout the pre-Flood atmosphere and biomass, then we might expect a 14C/12C ratio of about 0.4% of today's value in the plants and animals at the onset of the Flood. With this more realistic pre-Flood 14C/12C ratio, we find that a value of 0.24 pmc corresponds to an age of only 4200 years (0.004 x 2-4200/5730 = 0.0024 = 0.24 pmc). Even though these estimates are rough, they illustrate the crucial importance of accounting for effects of the Flood cataclysm when translating a 14C/12C ratio into an actual age.

Percent Modern Carbon

Some readers at this point may be asking, how does one then account for the tens of millions and hundreds of millions of years that other radioisotope methods yield for the fossil record? Most of the other RATE projects address this important issue. Equally as persuasive as the 14C data is evidence from RATE measurements of the diffusion rate of Helium in zircon crystals that demonstrates the rate of nuclear decay of Uranium into Lead and Helium has been dramatically higher in the past and the uniformitarian assumption of a constant rate of decay is wrong.3 Another RATE project documents the existence of abundant Polonium radiohalos in granitic rocks that crystallized during the Flood and further demonstrates that the uniformitarian assumption of constant decay rates is incorrect.4 Another RATE project provides clues for why the 14C decay rate apparently was minimally affected during episodes of rapid decay of isotopes with long half-lives.5
The bottom line of this research is that the case is now extremely compelling that the fossil record was produced just a few thousand years ago by the global Flood cataclysm. The evidence reveals that macroevolution as an explanation for the origin of life on earth can therefore no longer be rationally defended.
Acknowledgement: The RATE team would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to the many generous donors who have made the high precision analyses at some of the best laboratories in the world possible. The credibility of our work in creation science research depends on these costly but crucial laboratory procedures.

Endnotes and References

  1. F. H. Schmidt, D. R. Balsley, and D. D. Leach, "Early expectations of AMS: Greater ages and tiny fractions. One failure?—one success," Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, 29:97-99, 1987.
  2. J. R. Baumgardner, D. R. Humphreys, A. A. Snelling, and S. A. Austin, "Measurable 14C in fossilized organic materials: Confirming the young earth creation/Flood model," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. E. Walsh, Editor, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 127-142, 2003.
  3. D. R. Humphreys, J. R. Baumgardner, S. A. Austin, and A. A., Snelling, "Helium diffusion rates support accelerated nuclear decay," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey, Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 175-196, 2003.
  4. A. A. Snelling and M. H. Armitage, "Radiohalos—A tale of three granitic plutons," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey, Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 243-268, 2003.
  5. A. A. Snelling, S. A. Austin, and W. A. Hoesch, "Radioisotopes in the diabase sill (upper Precambrian) at Bass Rapids, Grand Canyon, Arizona: An application and test of the isochron dating method," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey, Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 269-284, 2003.
* At the time of publication, Dr. Baumgardner was Adjunct Associate Professor of Geophysics for the ICRGS.
Cite this article: Baumgardner, J. 2003. Carbon Dating Undercuts Evolution's Long Ages. Acts & Facts. 32 (10).
Wait a minute!   What is the RATE team and what have they done?  Glad you asked!

Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE)


Scientists associated with the Institute for Creation Research have finished an eight-year research project known as RATE, or Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth.
For over a hundred years, evolutionists have insisted that the earth is billions of years old, and have arrogantly dismissed any views contrary to this belief. However, the team of seven creation scientists have discovered incredible physical evidence that supports what the Bible says about the young age of the earth.
Learn about their discoveries and explore the scientific evidence that supports biblical truth here!

RATE Articles

New Rate Data Support a Young World (#366)by Russell Humphreys, Ph.D.
Evidence for a Young World (#384) by Russell Humphreys, Ph.D.

RATE Audio

RATE - What Earthly Reason? Download MP3
RATE - Rocks Evolution, Part 1 Download MP3
RATE - Rocks Evolution, Part 2 Download MP3
RATE - Diamonds: A Creationist's Best Friend Download MP3
RATE - Thousands, Not Billions Download MP3

RATE Resources

Thousands... Not Billions

Understand the findings of the RATE project. Dr. DeYoung authored this non-technical book in order to equip the layperson to defend scientific six-day creation and refute modern dating techniques.
More Information
Thousands... Not Billions - DVD

As a companion to the non-technical book, or by itself, Thousands...Not Billions is the ultimate multimedia resource for any family, student or teacher's library. Evolution and modern science has questioned the Biblical account of Creation for years, and now compelling new scientific research by ICR challenges modern science and their dating techniques.
More Information
Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Volume I

The RATE book is a definitive resource on radioactive dating for every scientist's library, whether evolutionist or creationist. It examines radioisotope theory, exposes its plaguing problems, and offers a better alternative.
More Information
Free downloadFree download [2.8MB PDF]
Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Volume II

The age of the earth is an important issue in Christianity today. If the 6 day Genesis account is fallacious, then how can the rest of Scripture be relied upon? Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative addresses the issues raised by the first RATE technical book in 2000.
More Information
Free Download

Finally, for dessert, the study of the movements of magma support the formation of large magma flows within the Biblical time frame for the age of the Earth!

Express-Lane Magma Indicates Young Earth

Magma can really make tracks according to a recent study published in Nature that has significantly upped the perceived speed limit of magma movement in the earth.1 Philipp Ruprecht and Terry Plank examined rocks generated from the most recent, 1963–1965 eruption of the Irazú volcano in Costa Rica and found indications that the magma traveled at 150–300 feet per day and possibly as fast as several thousand feet per day. These findings present problems for old-earth theories that are based on sluggish magma movement.
Key factors in the study were the olivine crystals found in the rocks generated during this latest eruption. These crystals preserved the chemical signature of the mantle below the crust from as deep as 22 miles below the surface. Lack of chemical mixing within the magma below the volcano indicates that ascent times were extremely short, with travel from the top of the mantle to the surface taking only a matter of months.
Magmas ascend through the earth because the liquid is more buoyant than the surrounding rocks, somewhat like a hot air balloon traveling upward through the cooler air. However, for many decades, most uniformitarian scientists advocated slow-moving, slow-cooling magmas that inched their way to the surface over thousands or even millions of years.2 The present study smashes this ingrained myth, replacing it with evidence of a more rapid, "catastrophic" magma ascent.
Creation scientists advocate this theory of rapid ascent and cooling of magmas.2,3Granites in the Front Range of Colorado and in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, had telling ascent rates between 0.5 and 9.0 miles per year.2 However, these magmas originated in the crust at depths only 13 miles down. The Nature study reveals a rapid ascent from depths as far down as the top of the mantle—well beyond 20 miles deep!1
Secular scientists argue that the Sierra Nevada batholith in California, a large magma chamber many miles across, formed by slow magma movements, bit by bit, over a 40-million-year time span. However, based on this newer ascension-rate data, even extensive granitic batholiths, like the Sierra Nevadas, could have formed in just over 1,000 years.2
Studies showing the brisk rise of magma during volcanic eruptions are now becoming more common, and scientists are even considering such movement "catastrophic."4Nature authors Ruprecht and Plank conclude, "This is not an isolated occurrence; magma mixing, mafic magma recharge, and high Fo [fosterite] olivines are common to many stratovolcanoes above subduction zones [i.e., the Cascade Range in Washington and Oregon], and the approach we have outlined here may be applied generally."1
Evidence supporting rapid and catastrophic movement of magma fits the young-earth model, proving that millions and billions of years are not necessary to form the geologic features we see today. The reality is that volcanoes and magmas can form and move rapidly, a fact that confirms the youthful age of the earth spelled out in the book of Genesis.
  1. Ruprecht, P. and T. Plank. 2013. Feeding andesitic eruptions with a high-speed connection from the mantle. Nature. 500 (7460): 68-72.
  2. Snelling, A. 2009. Earth's Catastrophic Past, Volume 2. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 987-993.
  3. Woodmorappe, J. 2001. The rapid formation of granitic rocks: more evidenceJournal of Creation. 15 (2): 122-125.
  4. Petford, N. et al. 2000. Granite magma formation, transport and emplacement in the earth's crust. Nature. 408 (6813): 669-673.
Image credit: Tim Clarey
* Dr. Clarey is a Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in Geology from Western Michigan University.
Article posted on September 13, 2013.

Never again let it be said that Carbon-14 dating supports long ages and Darwinist mythology!

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