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Triassic wood from Australia was dated at 33K years old (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Triassic wood from Australia was dated at 33K years old (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.
Previous claim: CD011.4 Next claim: CD011.6


Claim CD011.5:

A piece of wood was fossilized in the Hawkesbury Sandstone, Australia, which most geologists date to the middle Triassic, about 225 to 230 million years ago. The wood was dated by Geochron (a commercial dating laboratory) using the carbon-14 method. Geochron determined its age to be only 33,720 +/- 430 years before present. Contamination by recent microbes or fungi cannot explain the discrepant age.

Source: Snelling, Andrew, 1999. Dating Dilemma: Fossil wood in 'ancient' sandstone. Creation Ex Nihilo 21(3): 39-41.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. It is doubtful that the sample was even wood. Snelling was not even sure what the sample was.

Nothing could further from the truth. The sample is definitely (incompletely-petrified) wood, and this fact is evident from the fossil itself, since the wood's original character is preserved in the fossil. It is even clear from the picture found in the article. The only doubt that Snelling raises is as to its exact genus, not its identity as wood.

Nor could the staff at Geochron tell what the sample was (Walker 2000).

That's because Geochron's sample was not large enough. They got only a small piece of the fossil for analysis, and apparently not enough to identify it, assuming they even tried.

If it was Triassic, it probably contained no original carbon (there are no known cases of any 225-Mya wood retaining any of its original carbon).

What is Talk.Origins' basis for this statement? Their claim is falsified by the fossil in question, because the lab found evidence of original carbon and based the carbon-14 date on it.

Using carbon dating was pointless from the start since it would inevitably give meaningless results.

Finding evidence of original carbon-14 in wood that based on uniformitarian geology is alleged to be 225 million years old is a meaningless result? That makes it seem that any result that has the potential of invalidating uniformitarian geology is by definition meaningless.

Furthermore, according to Flood geology this result does have meaning.

2. The sample was porous, making it likely that it would have absorbed organic carbon from the groundwater. It was probably this contaminating carbon that produced the date.

According to uniformitarian geology the rock this wood was found in has been above the water table for millions of years, so this can be eliminated as a possible source of contamination. This was explained in one of Talk.Origins references (Dating dilemma deepens: Moore on ancient radiocarbon), yet the Talk.Origins author apparently chose to ignore it.

Another possibility is that some 14C was created in situ by natural radioactivity in the surrounding rocks (Hunt 2002).

To do this would requirer a radiation level that would have kept the sample in equilibrium, so now all Talk.Origins needs to do is to provide some empirical evidence that this is the case.

3. Furthermore, 33,720 years is still significantly older than the age which many creationists, Snelling included, ascribe to the earth, and there are no plausible sources of error to make the age younger than 33,000 years.

Actually there is a plausible source of just such an error, it is called the Genesis Flood, however because of Talk.Origins' uniformitarian mindset, they don't see it as a plausible source of error, since in their mind it did not occur. In so doing they fulfill II Peter 3:3-6.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (NASB)

According to modern flood geology, the Flood was followed by a rapid increase in the 12C/14C ratio, which would produce this type of error. Furthermore, the wood is probably pre-Flood and if so this result would reflect the pre-Flood 12C/14C ratio.

See also

Carbon-14 dating

radiometric dating

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