Creationist Nonsense: Lava and radiometric dating


This is a response to Ray, who wrote, some time ago:

“My confidence in radiometric dating was shaken when I saw that in Hawaii you could watch a stream of molten lava cool, break off a chunk, send it to the dating lab and it would already indicate millions of years” [link]

I stumbled upon this when I was looking through my archives.  The point is, this is simply nonsense, and you have fallen victim to another creationist propaganda ruse.

The idea that a “chunk” was broken from a lava and dated to be millions of years came straight from an actual scientific research, in which a chunk was broken from fresh lava, and was dated to be 22 million years old.  However, the scientists who were involved in the research were not trying to date lava; they were instead dating olivine inclusions within the lava.

Olivine has high melting points therefore are not molten by the lava, hence the term “olivine inclusions” within the lava.  This is the “chunk” which was taken from the Hualalai volcano to the lab.  Potassium/ argon dating revealed that these chunks were indeed 22 million years old, which comes as no surprise, because these olivine inclusions are old.

The scientists also reported that the lava was dated at approximately zero, but the creationists don’t seem to care.  And, as consequence, many creationist writers have picked on this very case, claiming that it shows that radiometric dating is wrong.  Here is the actual scientific report if you would like to check it out:

Radiogenic Helium and Argon in Ultramafic Inclusions from Hawaii, J.G. Funkhouser and J.J. Naughton, Journal of Geophysical Research 73:14 pp. 4601-4607 (15 July 1968)

Notice how even the title of the report gives it away that the scientists involved were not trying to date the lava, rather, the ultramafic inclusions.  You have fallen for another pathetic creationist lie and you need to wake up soon.  Thanks for reading.

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