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There are minor differences between isotopes of the same element, and in relatively rare circumstances it is possible to obtain some amount of differentiation between them. The effect is almost always a very small departure from homogeneous distribution of the isotopes -- perhaps enough to introduce an error of 0.002 half-lives in a non-isochron age. but it is rare and the effect is not large enough to account for extremely old ages on supposedly young formations.) as minerals form.

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However, the methods must be used with care -- and one should be cautious about investing much confidence in the resulting age...

especially in absence of cross-checks by different methods, or if presented without sufficient information to judge the context in which it was obtained.

This will be discussed in more detail in the section on Gill's paper below.

The "generic" method described by Gonick is easier to understand, but it does not handle such necessities as: (1) varying levels of uncertainty in the X- versus Y-measurements of the data; (2) computing an uncertainty in slope and Y-intercept from the data; and (3) testing whether the "fit" of the data to the line is good enough to imply that the isochron yields a valid age.

It depends on the accuracy of the measurements and the fit of the data to the line in each individual case.) For example, with Rb/Sr isochron dating, any age less than a few tens of millions of years is usually indistinguishable from zero.

That encompasses the entire young-Earth timescale thousands of times over." in the decay equation.

Consider some molten rock in which isotopes and elements are distributed in a reasonably homogeneous manner.

Its composition would be represented as a single point on the isochron plot: Note that the above is somewhat simplified.

Unfortunately, one must wade through some hefty math in order to understand the procedures used to fit isochron lines to data.

General comments on "dating assumptions" All radiometric dating methods require, in order to produce accurate ages, certain initial conditions and lack of contamination over time.

Note that the mere existence of these assumptions do not render the simpler dating methods entirely useless.

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