Age of the Earth

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 104
  • Published : February 26, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
AGE OF THE EARTH

Scientists have settled on the age of the earth of about 4.6 billion years as a result of research started almost 50 years ago. This conclusion was based upon carefully designed and conducted experiments that compared the ratios in rock samples of parent elements to daughter elements ( some of which would have been from radioactive decay of the parent, some of which may have been present in the sample at the time of formation). Since radioactive decay is known to occur at a constant rate, the age of a rock can be determined from the ratio of the parent element to the daughter element. The concerns about these dating methods were exactly the same that creationists continue to raise - presence of the daughter element at the time the rock was formed and possible loss / gain of either the parent or daughter element at some point in the history of the rock. For this reason, the tests were designed to account for those possibilities. The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years (4.54 × 109 years ± 1%). This age is based on evidence from radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples. Following the scientific revolution and the development of radiometric age dating, measurements of lead in uranium-rich minerals showed that some were in excess of a billion years old. The oldest such minerals analyzed to date – small crystals of zircon from the Jack Hills of Western Australia – are at least 4.404 billion years old. Comparing the mass and luminosity of the Sun to the magnitudes of other stars, it appears that the solar system cannot be much older than those rocks. Ca-Al-rich inclusions(inclusions rich in calcium and aluminum) – the oldest known solid constituents within meteorites that are formed within the solar system – are 4.567 billion years old, giving an age for the solar system and an upper limit for the age of Earth. It is hypothesized that the accretion of...
tracking img