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Radioisotope dating accuracy

No matter what the radiometric date turned out to be, our geologist would always be able to ‘interpret’ it.He would simply change his assumptions about the history of the rock to explain the result in a plausible way. Wasserburg, who received the 1986 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences, said, ‘There are no bad chronometers, only bad interpretations of them!

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On his return, he sends his sample to the laboratory for dating, and after a few weeks receives the lab report.

Let us imagine that the date reported by the lab was 150.7 ± 2.8 million years.

Our geologist would be very happy with this result.

Would he have concluded that the fossil date for the sediments was wrong? Would he have thought that the radiometric dating method was flawed? Instead of questioning the method, he would say that the radiometric date was not recording the time that the rock solidified.

He may suggest that the rock contained crystals (called xenocrysts) that formed long before the rock solidified and that these crystals gave an older date.

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