Carbon-14 dating

SailingCyclops wrote:

otseng wrote:The thing with a biface is that it is sharpened all the way around the edge. There is no spot to hold it safely to use it as a weapon or as an axe/hoe/knife. If I was a survivalist and had to create a tool out of chert, I would not spend extra time to sharpen the entire edge so that I would then cut myself when I used it.

An intelligent survivalist, or caveman for that matter would bury the wide end in wood, bone, vines, or leather, constructing an ax. hoe, knife, or spear.

We are talking intelligent hominids here, not Chimps.

However, bifaces are typically not known to have been attached to anything.

Goat wrote:The proper phrasing would be ‘radiometric dating’, not carbon dating.

Yes, that would be the proper terminology. Carbon-dating would not be able to detect radioactive carbon beyond 50,000 years.

However, we have deposits that are supposedly millions of years old that has the presense of C14.

“Most man-made chemicals are made of fossil fuels, such as petroleum or coal, in which the carbon-14 should have long since decayed. However, such deposits often contain trace amounts of carbon-14 (varying significantly, but ranging from 1% the ratio found in living organisms to amounts comparable to an apparent age of 40,000 years for oils with the highest levels of carbon-14).”

Goat wrote: Yes, that is true, and do you know WHY it is true?

If the assumptions of carbon dating are true, then the more reasonable answer is that the ages are accurate. However, since it does not conform to evolutionary timeframes, an ad hoc explanation must be provided. So, “bacteria” or “other unknown secondary sources of carbon-14 production” is posited. As for bacteria, what it implies is that new bacteria has entered the coal after the coal has been deposited and formed. The bacteria would need to have originally come from the surface in order to get the C14 from the atmosphere. How can bacteria from the surface travel down to coal beds, which are on the order of hundreds/thousands of feet deep? The same problem holds for oil. And also for diamonds.

Also, if one is going to posit ad hoc explanations to modify isotope datings, then one can as well do the same for all other isotope dating techniques and say that all datings are suspect.

blueandwhite wrote:Well its this thing, you may or may not have heard of it, its called water. It moves. Mostly in a downward direction.

A little sarcasm there?

Please present evidence that water saturated with bacteria can travel down hundreds/thousands feet deep of rock and infuse coal, oil, and diamonds. And do it within a single bacterial lifespan.

Also, here is test. All rocks above coal and oil deposits should contain such bacteria with C14. And it should be detectable. As a matter of fact, if it is tested for C14, the concentration of C14 would be higher than those found in the coal and oil deposits since there would be fewer C12 in the rocks above it. Here’s my prediction, rather than C14 concentration being higher, C14 will be negligible in rocks above coal and oil deposits.

BlackCat13 wrote:Beyond that, as an anthropology major with archaeological experience, without the context that surrounded your biface, if it was dug up from under ground, is useless, worthless. A shiny (or not so shiny, since it is a normal rock) bauble. If it is old, it would be a good find, pretty good quality, but without historical context…nadda. It can’t be dated and no good data can be gathered from it.

I did not come up with a date for the biface that I bought. It came with the rock from the dealer that I bought it from. I don’t claim to be able to date anything just by looking at it.

Grumpy wrote:All the Carbon 14 will not be gone in 50,000 years. It’s just that the level of C14 is too low to accurately measure. There will still be trace amounts of C14 after a million years.

There could be trace amounts after millions of years, but it would be undetectable. Goat stated “The theoretical limit of carbon dating is 50,000 years, although very few labs will give a result if it’s older than 30,000.” I’ve seen other dates for the theoretical limit, but all are on the order of tens of thousands of years.

blueandwhite wrote:“Please present evidence that water saturated with bacteria can travel down hundreds/thousands feet deep of rock and infuse coal, oil, and diamonds. And do it within a single bacterial lifespan.”

Ok see, water seeps downward. It formes underground channels and things like that, in some cases down great distances.

You still did not present any evidence that this can happen.

Also, if water can seep into oil deposits, oil can also likewise seep out. And so after a period of time, no oil deposit would exist there.

Also, consiser that one culture of bacteria can continue to suvive for an infinite amount of time in proper conditions. So there is no “life span” issue to worry about.

For it to survive beyond a generation, it would require a food source. What food source would be available in these rocks?

On a sidenote, I have been studying science for quite some time, and know a few geological engineers, and I have never heard of a phenomena where there is an abundance of C14 in coal and oil deposits. Are we talking about a regular phenomena or a chance occurance that was found once at one period of time?

Nobody is claiming that there is an “abundance” of C14. Only thing claimed is that there are detectable levels.

No, I do not get the impression that it is just found once at one period of time.

Grumpy wrote:It’s called “half life” in that half will deteriorate in a certain time. The C14 is still detectable after a million years, but with so few atoms it is not distinguishable with enough accuracy to be valid for determining age.

The half life of C14 is 5730 years. From my calculations, one mole of C14 would completely disappear in half a million years. Given that Carboniferous coal is at least 300 million years old, there cannot even theoretically be one atom of C14 present.

And cosmic rays are not the only form of radiation that can form C14 from normal carbon, so there is always a “background” C14 count that the cosmic ray formed type disappears into over time.

The only other source of C14 mentioned in Wikipedia is: “Carbon-14 can also be produced in ice by fast neutrons causing spallation reactions in oxygen.”

And bacteria do not have to trickle down from the surface, water will carry dissolved CO2 down to where the bacteria live.

If this is the case, why posit bacteria then at all?

Goat wrote:

otseng wrote:

Grumpy wrote:And bacteria do not have to trickle down from the surface, water will carry dissolved CO2 down to where the bacteria live.

If this is the case, why posit bacteria then at all?

Because bacterial will concentrate the carbon from the CO2. This allows for the radioactive particles to be less disperse.

However, concentration ratios of C14 to C12 would not be different for a bacteria colony and water. Unless there is some way for bacteria to have a special affinity for C14 rather than C12.

blueandwhite wrote:Study geology.

This is not providing evidence either.

blueandwhite wrote:

otseng wrote:Also, if water can seep into oil deposits, oil can also likewise seep out. And so after a period of time, no oil deposit would exist there.

Does oil move around underground? Abesolutely yes. Which is why your claim is not significant. Things change beneth the ground at a very rapid pace, not unike the way it is above ground. Many things are in a constant state of flux.

This does not address the problem that I presented. If rocks are permeable enough for water and bacteria to go through, oil would likewise seep out.

Oil, dead vegetation that seeped in through the soil, nitrates and phosphates and sulphates from the soil, dead microorganisms. Bacteria has been living in water for billions of years without ecoming extinct. It is very resourceful.

Carboniferous coal is at least 300 million years old. Rocks above that would likewise be quite old. Microorganisms would only be present in rocks if they travelled down also. And what microorganisms would you be talking about?

Could I please ask for an article of some kind stating the occurence and timing of this phenomena? I’m just trying to understand if it is commonplace or a rare occurance.

I’ve been trying to find this. But, I don’t think this is something that people do much research on.

Those who believe in evolutionary timeframes would assume that things millions of years old would be radiocarbon dead. So, they would not look for it. And even if they did, it would raise more problems for their position. So, I don’t think they would do much research on this.

However, I found one article on this: Measurable 14C in Fossilized Organic Materials: Confirming the Young Earth Creation-Flood Model.

It cites 90 items from various journals that have been measured to have C14 that should be C14 dead. It also presents 10 coal samples from various locations that have measurable C14.

Some more problems about the bacteria hypothesis:

The fungi/bacteria hypothesis [that 14C in coal is produced by modern microorganisms currently living there –Ed.] may also be plausible, but would probably only contribute to inflation of 14C values if coal sits in warm damp conditions exposed to ambient air. There is also growing evidence that bacteria are widespread in deep rocks, but it is not clear that they could contribute to 14C levels. But they may contribute to 13C.

bacteria/fungi hypothesis: Lowe then makes a reasonable case for fungi and bacteria – there are fungi that can degrade lignite (Polyporus versicolor and Poria montiola), as well as autotrophic “thiobacillus-like” bacteria that oxidize pyrites in coal, and he points out that bacteria have been found 3km underground apparently living on granite. Lowe states that fungal and bacterial activity is particularly likely in warm, damp coal exposed to air, and he points out that microbial action only has to result in the deposition of ~0.1% by weight of modern carbon in the coal to produce an apparent age of 45,000 years for the specimen.

Since Lowe’s paper, there have been many more reports of deep subterranean bacteria, which apparently form a heretofore unrecognized ecosystem deep below the earth in rocks and in oils (abstracts below). Presumably most of these bacteria never interact with the “modern” 14C of the atmosphere. But some deep bacterial activity apparently can result in increased concentrations of 13C.

Goat wrote: And you expect me to accept something from the IRC?:?? Honestly?

Yes, I knew there would be pushback from me quoting any Christian source. But, I was willing to post it because they use secular sources (in addition to Christian sources). So, unless you can provide evidence to refute their sources, then yes, I do expect it to be considered valid evidence.

Of course, then there is the analysis of the claims here

How Creationists misrepresent the C-14 Dating Method

Actually, I’m not arguing against the validity of C14 dating. So, I fail to see the relevance of this.

blueandwhite wrote: The oil pools, and collects in pockets, and much of the time is mixed with dirt and water as well. They all collect in the same places often enough. Nothing is “seeping out”. It just changes frequently as rock and ground positions change.

Yes, oil are found in pockets. But the pockets are where the rocks on top are not permeable.

Allmost all radiometric dating is done on igneus rock so that you know that no C14 has leaked in or out.

I have no idea what you are talking about here. Can you elaborate?

A) Without the proper igneus rock nearby the test has a high degree of error.

You mean the C14 would have a high degree of error?

B) How do I know you aren’t making this up?

I’ve provided my sources, so I’m not making this up.

C) These are not “Evolutionary” timeframes. Geologists and physicists came up with these dating methods.

I use “evolutionary timeframes” in a chronological sense, not a biological sense.

D) No scientists worth his salt would ignore or intetionally not gather information on the basis that it “would raise more problems for their position”

Ideally yes.

E) If this test was done with C14, they should also do longer radiometric tests, like uranuim to see if the data correlates (ie. if 4 radiometric tests say its 300 million years old, and 1 says its 2000 years old, theres likely a problem with that one test).

Possibly. But I have yet to see other radiometric dating done on these.

Creation research isn’t science.

Because it does conform to the naturalism paradigm?

Oh, BTW, it would be better if you used bbcode to format your posts, rather than using double quotes. See here for a quick tutorial.

nygreenguy wrote:

otseng wrote:

Grumpy wrote: Where there is Uranium in the coal or surrounding the coal there will be Carbon 14.

I was trying to find more details of exactly how this happens. How does U generate C14?

Uranium, being radioactive, can give off neutrons which then attack to C12, making it C14. We posted a few articles a bit back that talked more about this.

Which post are you referring to?

Looking at the Uranium series decay chain:

The only particles emitted in the entire chain are alpha and beta particles. There is no emission of just neutrons in the chain.

Grumpy wrote: The alpha particle is basically a helium nucleus that is released from a decaying or fissioning atom at approximately 1/10 of lightspeed. While it is itself not a neutron, it interacts with the atoms around it and will cause them to release approximately 450,000 neutrons.

You’ll need to elaborate on this. What is the steps here from one alpha particle to 450,000 neutrons?

Also, from my understanding, the conversion from N14 to C14 involves elemental nitrogen, rather than N as part of a compound.

In addition, massive radioactive atoms undergo spontaneous fission, giving off neutrons(sometimes called “prompt neutrons”)at the moment of fission.

This would be the only time I can see where U can emit just neutrons.

However, for spontaneous fission of U, it occurs very rarely and can be considered a negligible source of neutrons.

For uranium and thorium, the spontaneous fission mode of decay does occur, but it is not seen for the majority of radioactive breakdowns, and it is usually neglected except for the exact considerations of branching ratios when determining the activity of a sample containing these elements.

AkiThePirate wrote:I think what grumpy was referring to was the release of neutrons upon fission, but I’m not entirely sure. 238U fissile though and makes up almost all natural uranium.

Just a correction here. Technically U238 is not fissile.

Uranium-238 (238U or U-238) is the most common isotope of uranium found in nature. It is not fissile, but is a fertile material: it can capture a slow neutron and after two beta decays become fissile plutonium-239.

Grumpy wrote:There seems to be a direct corelation between the presence of Uranium and C14 in fossil carbon.

I would grant that there could be some small amount of C14 due to the spontaneous fission of uranium hitting a nearby nitrogen atom. But for both to happen seems quite remote. Spontaneous fission does not occur very frequently. And there would be very little nitrogen in coal and oil.

But, as I have shown, the decay of Uranium DOES produce neutrons.

I think to be more technically correct, spontaneous fission (emits neutrons) rather than decay (emits alpha and beta particles) would be a source of neutrons.

Grumpy wrote:

Goat and Grumpy, is it possible that you could provide either experimental measurements noting a significant difference in C14 levels in natural deposits of hydrocarbons present only alongside Uranium ore and other radioactive ores or the theoretical framework to demonstrate that low frequency nuclear decay in the immediate area of a hydrocarbon deposit can, over time, cause a notable increase in C[sup14[/sup] content?

Such studies have not yet been done, mainly because the levels of C14 we are talking about have just recently been detectable.

Then there is no support for this statement: “why is C-14 underground where there is uranium ore, but not where it is absent?”

The atmospheric atomic testing of the 50’s created a huge spike in C14, so it is shown in principle that C14 can have sources other than cosmic rays, in particular neutrons generated by the fission of Uranium. Coal can be contaminated by several sources in situ, and even more sources can contaminate samples. Just the fact that they are now above ground exposes them to cosmic rays and their secondary effects, for example.

I don’t think anyone is disputing that fission can produce solitary neutrons.

“Radioisotope evidence presents significant problems for the young earth position. Baumgardner and the RATE team are to be commended for tackling the subject, but their “intrinsic radiocarbonâ€� explanation does not work. The previously published radiocarbon AMS measurements can generally be explained by contamination, mostly due to sample chemistry. The RATE coal samples were probably contaminated in situ. RATE’s processed diamond samples were probably contaminated in the sample chemistry. The unprocessed diamond samples probably reflect instrument background. Coal and diamond samples have been measured by others down to instrument background levels, giving no evidence for intrinsic radiocarbon.

While some materials, e.g., coals and carbonates, often do show radiocarbon contamination that cannot be fully accounted for, resorting to “intrinsic radiocarbon� raises more questions than it answers. Why do only some materials show evidence of this intrinsic radiocarbon? Why does some anthracite and diamond exist with no measurable intrinsic radiocarbon? Why is its presence in carbonates so much more variable than in other materials, e.g., wood and graphite? Why is it often found in bone carbonates but not in collagen from the same bone? Since intrinsic radiocarbon would be mistakenly interpreted as AMS process background, why do multi-laboratory intercomparisons not show a much larger variation than is observed? Why does unprocessed diamond seem to have less intrinsic radiocarbon than processed diamond?

These and many other considerations are inconsistent with the RATE hypothesis of “intrinsic radiocarbonâ€� but are consistent with contamination and background. “Intrinsic radiocarbonâ€� is essentially a “radiocarbon-of-the-gapsâ€� theory. As contamination becomes better understood, the opportunities to invoke “intrinsic radiocarbonâ€� will diminish. Most radiocarbon measurements of old materials, including many of shells and coal, can be accounted for by known contamination mechanisms, leaving absolutely no evidence for intrinsic radiocarbon. The evidence falsifies the RATE claim that “all carbon in the earth contains a detectable and reproducible … level of 14Câ€�”

A fairly thourough explanation can be found here

You do realize that you quoted from an organization that hold to these:

Our platform of faith has four important planks:

1. We accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct.

2. We confess the Triune God affirmed in the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds which we accept as brief, faithful statements of Christian doctrine based upon Scripture.

3. We believe that in creating and preserving the universe God has endowed it with contingent order and intelligibility, the basis of scientific investigation.

4. We recognize our responsibility, as stewards of God’s creation, to use science and technology for the good of humanity and the whole world.

ASA Beliefs

As an aside, I’m glad that this thread was voted the 2010 Best Debate Topic. :dance:

Grumpy wrote:

Then there is no support for this statement: “why is C-14 underground where there is uranium ore, but not where it is absent?”

The principle has been shown and radiation in the strata where oil or coal exist is also known, therefore it is entirely plausable for trace amounts of C14 to be generated in ancient carbon. This has been known by geologists for years.

I don’t think anyone is disputing that fission can produce solitary neutrons.

And Uranium fissions of it’s own accord. And Uranium is found in and around coal and oil. So C14 traces can be found in old carbon(only recently due to advances in technology). Therefore C14 in fossil carbon DOES NOT indicate a young age.

I think perhaps we’ve belabored this point long enough. But I’ll summarize my critique of this and move on.

No evidence has been given to support that where there is C14 in coal that there is uranium and that where there is no uranium, there is no C14. Further, no evidence has been presented for oil or diamonds.

The spontaneous fission of uranium is minuscule compared to the radioactive decay of uranium. Though it is possible for some neutrons to be emitted through the spontaneous fission of U, it hasn’t been demonstrated that this is sufficient to produce the levels that we detect of C14.

And if it is proposed that contamination can be used to reject values for carbon dating leading to young dates, I think one can also use this reasoning to question radiometric datings leading to old dates.

I will say that I do think more research on this is needed. I’d like to see more independent tests of coal/oil/diamond samples with measurements of uranium and C14.

Some of the greatest scientists have religious beliefs

Yes, I agree.