Inaccuracies of carbon dating
by Tas Walker A geologist works out the relative age of a rock by carefully studying where the rock is found in the field.
By looking at other outcrops in the area, our geologist is able to draw a geological map which records how the rocks are related to each other in the field.
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.
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!
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.