Typical dating patterns
From a creationist perspective, the 1997–2005 RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) project successfully made progress in documenting some of the pitfalls in the radioisotope dating methods, and especially in demonstrating that radioisotope decay rates may not have always been constant at today’s measured rates (Vardiman, Snelling, and Chaffin 2000, 2005).
Yet much research effort remains to be done to make further inroads into not only uncovering the flaws intrinsic to these long-age dating methods, but towards a thorough understanding of radioisotopes and their decay during the earth’s history within a biblical creationist framework.
U-Pb radioisotope dating is now the absolute dating method of first choice among geochronologists, especially using the mineral zircon.
A variety of analytical instruments have also now been developed using different micro-sampling techniques coupled with mass spectrometers, thus enabling wide usage of U-Pb radioisotope dating.
Many in both the scientific community and the general public around the world thus remain convinced of the earth’s claimed great antiquity.One crucial area the RATE project did not touch on was the issue of how reliable are the determinations of the radioisotope decay rates, which are so crucial for calibrating these dating “clocks.” However, in a recent series of papers, Snelling (2014a, b, 2015a, b, 2016, 2017) reviewed how the half-lives of the parent radioisotopes used in long-age geological dating have been determined and collated all the determinations of them reported in the literature to discuss the accuracy of their currently accepted values.He documented the methodology behind and history of determining the decay constants and half-lives of the parent radioisotopes U which are used as the basis for the Rb-Sr, Lu-Hf, Re-Os, Sm-Nd, K-Ar, Ar-Ar, U-Pb, and Pb-Pb long-age dating methods respectively.He showed that there is still some uncertainty in what the values for these measures of the Rb decay rate differ when Rb-Sr ages are calibrated against the U-Pb ages of either the same terrestrial minerals and rocks or the same meteorites and lunar rocks.Ironically it is the slow decay rates of isotopes such as Sm used for deep time dating that makes precise measurements of their decay rates so difficult.