Dalrymple Analysis of Steve Austin's Argon Claim

So I think it’s time to expose radiometric dating for the dubious science it really is and to prove once and for all that none of you here will ever be able to successfully use it to overthrow a young earth only thousands of years old.

Here, Dalrymple, one of the premier spokesmen for radio dating concedes (probably unwittingly) that there exists real wiggle room for a YEC view:

https://ncse.ngo/radiometric-dating-does-work

“[Steve] Austin (1996) [a YEC geologist] has documented excess 40Ar in the 1986 dacite flow from Mount St Helens, but the amounts are insufficient to produce significant errors in all but the youngest rocks.

Thus the large majority of historic lava flows that have been studied either give correct ages, as expected, or have quantities of excess radiogenic 40Ar that would be insignificant in all but the youngest rocks.”

To paraphrase Dalrymple:

Since I believe all epochs of the planet to be ancient, in the millions and billions of years, I deem all excess Argon to show up in standard error bars. However, there is one way around this that would make hay of radio isotopic dating techniques. If all lava flows were truly 6000 years and younger, all excess Argon would truly be excess, thus inexplicable, and none of the isotopic tests we use on rock would be able to definitively detect the age of the planet.

I already know that none of you here is an expert in this field and I don’t want to see all your cut-n-paste primary school pictures. So here is the challenge I want to lay out. Since some of you tend to be under the impression that PS is on the cutting edge of current-day science, particularly as it touches YEC vs. Evolution, it should be no problem for you to solicit a response from Dalrymple to my paraphrase above. Right?

So let’s hear from a real expert for a change.

This is in @davidson’s area of expertise, and @Joel_Duff might comment.

Assuming your quote is accurate, it just takes knowledge of english grammar to see your summary is wrong.

What I read is:

  1. [Steve] Austin (1996) [a YEC geologist] has documented excess 40Ar in the 1986 dacite flow

  2. the amounts are insufficient to produce significant errors in all but the youngest rocks

  3. Thus the large majority of historic lava flows that have been studied either give correct ages, as expected or have quantities of excess radiogenic 40Ar that would be insignificant in all but the youngest rocks.

What I do not see any where in this text is:

  1. Since I believe all epochs of the planet to be ancient, in the millions and billions of years, I deem all excess Argon to show up in standard error bars.

  2. However, there is one way around this that would make hay of radio isotopic dating techniques.

  3. If all lava flows were truly 6000 years and younger, all excess Argon would truly be excess, thus inexplicable, and none of the isotopic tests we use on rock would be able to definitively detect the age of the planet.

All of that just seems to be made up, with no bearing on what he said. For reference, we are discussing Ar based dating, and Ar40 is the decay product of K40.

So, excess Ar40 will make rocks look older than they really are, but you need a lot of it to make rocks look really old. If you don’t have much, it can’t explain why rocks look older. What Dalrymple is saying is that that there is not nearly enough excess Ar40 to account for 6,000 year old rocks that appear to be billions of years old.

At no point does his logic appeal to an “assumption” of old age. That was just @r_speir’s invention.

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This may seem like a crazy idea, but you could probably have more success having a reasonable discussion if you don’t start your argument like a sloppy drunk at a bar itching for a fight.

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I did send a note to him, but he is emeritus and quite old. I don’t know if he will respond. I doubt he will on the forum, and likely he will just affirm my response, agreeing that you essentially made up the summary. The gap between your summary and his words is so large I’m not even sure if it qualifies as a quote mine.

Not large at all. He made the concession I claimed. I will be glad to hear him say otherwise. Only him.

Where did he make that concession? Certainly not in that quote. At this point it doesn’t take expertise, just language comprehension.

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I’m sure it’s silly to ask you again to explain the close agreement of over a dozen non-radiometric dating proxies used to calibrate C14 dating back to over 50,000 years…

INTCAL13 AND MARINE13 RADIOCARBON AGE CALIBRATION CURVES 0 – 50,000 YEARS CAL BP

…since you’ve already seen and dodged this data so many times before. :slightly_smiling_face:

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You lost your credibility and the argument right there with your most disingenuous and incorrect “paraphrase”.

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Why did you skip the paragraph inbetween these two quotes with an ellipsis, and the sentence after the second quote?? Could it be because they undercut your narrative?

“Austin (1996) has documented excess 40Ar in the 1986 dacite flow from Mount St Helens, but the amounts are insufficient to produce significant errors in all but the youngest rocks.
The 79 CE Mt Vesuvius flow, the dating of which is described above, also contained excess 40Ar. The 40Ar/39Ar isochron method used by the Berkeley scientists, however, does not require any assumptions about the composition of the argon trapped in the rock when it formed — it may be atmospheric or any other composition for that matter. Thus any potential error due to excess 40Ar was eliminated by the use of this technique, which was not available when the studies by Dalrymple (1969) and Krummenacher (1970) were done.
Thus the large majority of historic lava flows that have been studied either give correct ages, as expected, or have quantities of excess radiogenic 40Ar that would be insignificant in all but the youngest rocks. The 40Ar/39Ar technique, which is now used instead of K-Ar methods for most studies, has the capability of automatically detecting, and in many instances correcting for, the presence of excess 40Ar, should it be present.”

In other words, excess argon can produce errors in relatively young rocks when K-Ar dating is used, but a more modern and common technique, 40Ar/39Ar isochron dating, is unaffected by excess argon.

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If you really wanted a response from Dalrymple, you would have asked him directly, not us.

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Well @evograd I stand corrected. This is a quote mine. @r_speir did you find this quote yourself or from someone else?

None of this helps your case. The dating of Mt Vesuvius and all recent history eruptions can be ruled out due to the bias of affirming what he already knew to be true. You can see in his remarks that they used a different set of criteria to adjust the dates downward. Why was any extra effort required at all? Because they already knew the young Vesuvius date.

The obvious question at that point becomes: Why not use those same “extra-effort” criteria to re-date the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic since the creationist timescale says those eruptions should all be around 4500 years ago? Because he would argue that it is pointless to affirm what he already believes to be untrue. Evolutionary bias and funding concerns would abruptly disallow any such consideration in his procedures.

Then there is the Mt St Helens problem. Notice he makes no attempt to even offer a re-dating of St Helens. This omission is suspicious. Why doesn’t he rework his calibrations to arrive at an eruption three decades old and openly demonstrate how good his technique is? Because he can’t. There is too much argon. So does that mean we have to wait 1900 years until St Helens is as old as Vesuvius to finally get an adjusted reading like the Vesuvius reading was adjusted? That won’t help. The argon will only increase.

So what does the St Helens eruption reveal? That there are no doubt hundreds of thousands of eruptions from the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic dated far too old with no apparent recourse for the true timeline of life history on the planet. Beyond the carbon dating limits, all radiogenic dating techniques are thus in question. I would go so far as to say they are shady. I would even go further and say fraudulent.

Here is my accusation. You are not practicing true science in radiogenic dating. You are only compounding your evolutionary story-telling.

That might be true for the K-Ar date, but not the Ar-Ar date. Austin’s work helpfully explains why there might be a discrepancy between the two.

Now what?

Where did he say that? He pointed out that excess argon doesn’t affect 40Ar/39Ar dates, and you somehow managed to interpret that as “adjusting the date downwards”?

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It’s interesting that you didn’t address the actual argument I was making. How do you explain the correlation between multiple different parent/daughter isotopes? At a minimu, we have K/Ar (and the related Ar/Ar method), U/Pb, and Rb/Sr. How is it that these methods all agree with one another?

No, there isn’t. Dalrymple is discussing the lower limit of measurement for the method. If the YEC view is correct then ALL samples should be below the limit of measurement, but they aren’t. K/Ar and Ar/Ar methods are able to measure ages well above the lower limit of the method.

To use an analogy, you are arguing that there isn’t anything heavier than a feather because your bathroom scales can’t accurately measure the weight of a feather.

Dalrymple is an expert, and you won’t listen to him. In fact, you won’t listen to any of the experts in geology.

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First, the carbon dating limit by itself is enough to shatter your “young earth only thousands of years old.”

Second, excess argon-40 doesn’t impact in the slightest the results of e.g. uranium-thorium dating. Even if all K-AR dating is suspect, U-Th dating remains.

“Shady” and “fraudulent”? That’s a heavy accusation.

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That is exactly right. Ar-K has errors in measuring the age of very recent rocks (the feather), but it certainly tells us other rocks are much older than recent (a sack of rocks on a bathroom scale weights more than a feather). Moreover, a better method (Ar-Ar) can in fact measure the age of very recent rocks.

Now what?

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Let’s take a look at what Dalrymple actually said:

If very small amounts of 40Ar are included in newly formed rocks then they will date older than they really are. But by how much?

If we take the worst case scenario and say there is excess 40Ar in all measurements equal to that found in those two extensive studies then the measured age of a 100 million year old rock will be off by 0.25%. In no way does this invalidate the Ar/Ar method.

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Just to avoid confusion, I think you meant to say K/Ar method there.

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People who say things like this has absolutely no credibility and are fueled by dogma. What about an old earth equals evolution? Tons of people accept the old age of the earth and not evolution. So how is it evolutionary Story-telling?

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