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Cocktails! ICC 2013, C14 dates conflict with Carboniferous era dates (300 million years ago)

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C14 should not be found in the Carboniferous era supposedly 300 million years old. If the presence of C14 is not due to contamination or other processes, the carboniferous layer is then much younger — on the order of 40,000 years or less.


[the “Cocktail” designation in the title refers to ideas that are possibly true, but are speculative in nature and which are not offered with the same level of conviction as other arguments at UD.]

Here is an embarrassing admission from the pro-Darwin TalkOrigins website:

the physicists want to find fossil fuels that have very little 14C. In the course of this work, they’ve discovered that fossil fuels vary widely in 14C content. Some have no detectable 14C; some have quite a lot of 14C.

And the pro-Darwin Wikipedia

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 up to 1% the ratio found in living organisms, a concentration comparable to an apparent age of 40,000).

The Darwinist explanation is that nearby Uranium is causing the coal to become contaminated with C14 or that bacteria caused it. But why the prejudice against the one explanation that should be considered, namely, the carboniferous era of 300 million years ago, like Darwinism, is a figment of imagination, not empirical science.

A respectable scientist, John Baumgardner argues against Kirk Bertsche who claims that the young dates indicated by the presence of C14 were due to uranium or bacteria or refrigerators. I met Baumgardner at ICC 2013 to thank him personally for this article he published on the web a few years back:

If Bertsche had fully understood the very papers to which he refers, he would immediately realize that his first claim that laboratory contamination is responsible for the high 14C levels routinely measured in “old” biological samples is unsustainable. To highlight the issues he is failing to grasp, I point to the paper by Brown and Southon [1997] who state

Several “14C-free” background materials were used in obtaining these data: 1) Coal (supplied by Beta Analytic), 2) Calcite (TIRI sample F: Icelandic doublespar), 3) QL4766 wood (> 56.6 ka BP), 4) QL1428 wood (>55 ka BP), and 5) Yale Anthracite (YA-13; no measurable 14C activity). The latter three samples, and their 14C contents, were supplied by the Quaternary Isotope Laboratory, University of Washington (Stuiver, pers. comm., 1996). In our measurements there were no significant differences between the results obtained for these background materials, and the data from all these materials were used.

In Figure 2 these authors plot their own measurements for the 14C levels in what they describe as “14C-free” background materials for varying sample sizes. What a novice reader of the paper can easily miss is that the plot shows that these materials converge to a value of 0.25 pMC for larger sample sizes! The value should be zero for truly 14C-free material. The measured value is 14C some 450 times higher than the threshold for the AMS hardware. That is why the authors use quotation marks with the term “14C-free.” The AMS insiders understand the lingo. Bertsche apparently does not. (It is noteworthy that their value of 0.25 pMC, based on two coal samples, two wood samples, and a calcite, is almost identical to the mean value that the RATE team obtained for its suite of ten coal samples.)

Bertsche then tosses out several possible ways the coal might have acquired its inventory of 14C in its natural setting. He first mentions the presence of uranium and alludes to northern Australian coals. Northern Australian coals? Just where, pray tell, might they be found? There are none of any significance in northern Australia. In regard to 14C production due to the presence of uranium in crustal environments, I treat that topic in detail in section 7 of my chapter and show the maximum plausible 14C production rate, given measured neutron fluxes in deep mines and measured reaction cross sections, is more than four orders of magnitude too small to account even for the small measured 14C levels in diamonds. This same analysis also applies to coal. Uranium concentrations in coal are typically less than those measured for granite, which is the setting for most of the diamonds we studied. (See the USGS fact sheet on uranium concentrations in coal and granite in the References.)

Next, incredibly, Bertsche proposes microbial growth as a source of 14C! Just what does Bertsche imagine such microbes to be eating if it is not the coal itself? It they are eating the coal, then how can the 14C levels within them be any different from that of the coal itself? It seems he’s grasping for straws here.

Next Bertsche resorts to speculating that our coal samples were contaminated while in storage “in a DOE geology lab refrigerator.” To me that smacks of a deliberate distortion of what I described in my chapter on pages 605–606 regarding the pedigree of the samples we acquired from the U. S. Department of Energy Coal Sample Bank at Pennsylvania State University. I emphasized the careful procedures applied in the collection and preservation of these samples. They were sealed under argon to preclude contamination from just moments after they were collected. For most of their lives these samples were sealed in argon in multi-laminate foil bags and refrigerated at 3 °C. Just why does Bertsche choose to engage in this sort of distortion? To me it suggests a significant level of desperation in the face of such obvious evidence for the presence of genuine intrinsic 14C in these samples.

And I just talked radiochemist Hugh Miller who those close to the infamous meeting of the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore. Miller’s group sends dino bones to get tested for C14. I asked, has ANY sample tested free of C14? They answered, “no”. All the dino fossils they sent off for testing have detectable C14 levels. Here are the results:

So are these geological timescales anything but the product of circular reasoning and institutional imperatives? The Earth could be billions of years old, but it does not mean the geological timescales for life are necessarily billions or hundreds of millions of years old. The reason Darwinists need hundreds of millions of years is that it is apparent biological organisms change too slowly over time, so millions of years for evolution are a necessary, but not sufficient condition for life to evolve.

But what reasons are given for the old age of the fossil record? Old rocks? Well that explanation won’t work because your dog could be buried in billion year old rocks and if discovered a few years later, does that mean the dog lived billions of years ago? No!

Biological materials shouldn’t have lasted tens of millions of years, but rather than admit a potential mistake, some have claimed discovery of a new mysterious principle chemical kinetics or physics. Erosion should have wiped out fossil layers in a matter of a few million years, so why are the layers still around? Lastly we find C14 indicating the fossils are young. And now not only do we have dino tissues but entire layers of the geological column at 300 million years old permeated with C14.

Is there any reason that skepticism about old geological ages is unwelcome except that it gives ammunition to the creationists?

regarding the relevance of these discussions to ID, see:
Relevance of YEC to ID

3 Replies to “Cocktails! ICC 2013, C14 dates conflict with Carboniferous era dates (300 million years ago)

  1. 1
    gensci says:

    Great post, thank you! This kind of article is helpful for adding some humility to the earth age question. Natural history research is about interpreting past events. It’s so much different than doing scientific research, which is about verification through experimentation. Natural history research is about interpretation through experimentation and study of historical records, including Scripture.

    In the 1960’s, K/Ar method pioneer Garniss Curtis tested granites in Southwest Alaska that he thought were 150 myo. His K/Ar test said they were 4 myo. He stuck with the 150 myo date, and said the granite he tested must have “lost” a bunch of radiogenic argon over time. Fast forward to 2010, when USGS volcanologists told me that the granites in the same area were only 10 to 20 myo! Where did over 130 myo of time go?

    Then, Gualda and Ghiorso claimed that rates of granite formation are 1000 times faster than previous believed, which means now the Southwest Alaska granites are 10 to 20 thousand years old! http://petrology.oxfordjournal.....3/431.full

    There are reasons to believe the earth is old, and reasons to believe it is young. If the earth is as old as some claim, it seems strange that evidence which can be interpreted as a young earth keeps cropping up. Instead of giving absolute ages, perhaps radiometric results are really more for understanding the environmental history of rocks and fossils?

  2. 2
    kuartus says:

    I dont know how respectable John Baumgardner is. Back when I used to read the “Journal of creation” I read a response by Baumgardner to a critism of his catastrophic plate tectonics leveled by michael oard. His response amounted to saying that he shouldn’t be criticizing his model because it is based on the bible. An appaling attitude if you ask me.

    Btw, for a critique of RATE’S cabon results visit this thread. John Baumgarner actually participated in the thread. When he could not respond to scientific criticisms he resorted to making threats about divine judgment. The thread is quite long though.

    Here it is:

  3. 3
    scordova says:

    Thanks for the info Kuartus.


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