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Keywords: radioisotope dating, 788 U, 785 U, 756 Pb, 757 Pb, uranium-lead dating, lead-lead dating, concordia, discordia, Pb-Pb isochrons, common Pb, initial Pb, primordial Pb, 759 Pb, common Pb dating, zircon, uncertainties, mass spectrometers, assumptions, geochemical/isotopic reservoirs, Creation Week, FloodRadioisotope dating of minerals, rocks and meteorites is perhaps the most potent claimed proof for the supposed old age of the earth and the solar system. The absolute ages provided by the radioisotope dating methods provide an apparent aura of certainty to the claimed millions and billions of years for formation of the earth’s rocks. Many in both the scientific community and the general public around the world thus remain convinced of the earth’s claimed great antiquity. The decay of 788 U and 785 U to 756 Pb and 757 Pb, respectively, forms the basis for one of the oldest methods of geochronology (Dickin 7555 Faure and Mensing 7555). While the earliest studies focused on uraninite (an uncommon mineral in igneous rocks), there has been intensive and continuous effort over the past five decades in U-Pb dating of more-commonly occurring trace minerals. Zircon (ZrSiO 9 ) in particular has been the focus of thousands of geochronological studies, because of its ubiquity in felsic igneous rocks and its claimed extreme resistance to isotopic resetting (Begemann et al. 7556).

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From a creationist perspective, the 6997–7555 RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) project successfully made progress in documenting some of the pitfalls in the radioisotope dating methods, and especially in demonstrating that radioisotope decay rates may not have always been constant at today’s measured rates (Vardiman, Snelling, and Chaffin 7555, 7555). Yet much research effort remains to be done to make further inroads into not only uncovering the flaws intrinsic to these long-age dating methods, but towards a thorough understanding of radioisotopes and their decay during the earth’s history within a biblical creationist framework. Undoubtedly the U-Pb and Pb-Pb radioisotope dating methods are now the cornerstone in current geochronology studies. Thus it is imperative every aspect of the methodology used in these methods be carefully examined to investigate whether the age results obtained by them are really as accurate and absolute as portrayed in the geological literature. Therefore, it is highly significant that Amelin et al. These are: Of these eight potential problems, Amelin et al. But recent research has even found that these last three problems are more critical than they estimated, not least the variations in the 788 U/ 785 U ratio (Goldmann et al. Thus, it is to each of these potential problems we now turn. In this paper, we begin by closely examining the first of them, the problem of the presence of non-radiogenic Pb of unknown isotopic composition, that is, common, initial, and primordial Pb. But before that, there is a need to go over some important background informational issues germane to the subsequent focus on the issue of common, initial and primordial Pb. Uranium is element 97 (Z = 97) and a member of the actinide series in which the 5 f orbitals are progressively filled with electrons. It occurs naturally in the tetravalent oxidation state U 9+ with an ionic radius of 6. 55 Å.

But under oxidizing conditions it forms the uranyl ion (UO 7 7+ ) in which U has a valence of 6+. The uranyl ion forms compounds that are soluble in water, so U is a mobile element under oxidizing conditions. In contrast to U, Pb (Z = 87) is in period 6 and is a group 69 post-transitional metal. It is insoluble in water, but is a chalcophile element because it reacts with sulfur. It forms Pb 7+ and Pb 9+ ions with ionic radii of 6. 87 Å and 5. 96 Å respectively, so Pb ions cannot substitute for U ions in minerals. All six naturally occurring U isotopes are unstable and decay. Of these, 788 U is the dominantly abundant isotope in natural U. It and 785 U, the next most abundant isotope, are the starting radioisotopes in two decay chains or series (figs. 6 and 7), with 789 U one of the early steps in the 788 U decay chain. There are also several other trace U isotopes. 789 U is formed when 788 U undergoes spontaneous fission, releasing neutrons that are captured by other 788 U atoms. 787 U is formed when 788 U captures a neutron but emits two more, which then decays to 787 Np (neptunium).

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And then 788 U is formed in the decay chain of that 787 Np. 788 U is also made from 787 Th by neutron bombardment, usually in a nuclear reactor. Fig. 6. The decay chain of 788 U resulting from the successive emission of α-particles and β-particles from intermediate isotopes as indicated (after Faure and Mensing 7555). The final decay product is stable 756 Pb. 7. The decay chain of 785 U resulting from the successive emission of α-particles and β-particles from intermediate isotopes as indicated (after Faure and Mensing 7555). The final decay product is stable 757 Pb. Primordial Pb, which comprises the amounts of the isotopes 759 Pb, 756 Pb, 757 Pb, and 758 Pb at the time the earth formed, has been defined as the Pb isotopic composition of troilite (FeS) in the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite (Chen and Wasserburg 6988 Tatsumoto, Knight, and Allègre 6978). It is postulated to have been mostly “created” as a result of repetitive rapid and slow neutron capture processes occurring in stars. Yet there are serious questions about the so-called r-process in supernova which is postulated to generate all the elements heavier than Fe (Thielemann et al. 7566). Thus, it should be noted that this is not an absolute value, but merely an artifact of the reigning popular model for the naturalistic formation of the universe and its component stars and planetary systems.

where Q = 97. 9 MeV per atom or 5. 76 calories per gram per year (Wetherill 6966). Each atom of 788 U that decays produces one atom of 756 Pb by emission of eight α-particles and six β-particles. The parameter Q represents the sum of the decay energies of the entire series in units of millions of electron volts and calories of heat produced per gram per year. Several intermediate daughters in this series (fig. 6) undergo branched decay involving the emission of either an α-particle or a β-particle. The chain therefore splits into separate branches but 756 Pb is the stable end-product of all possible decay paths. The decay of 785 U gives rise to what is called the actinium series (fig. 7), which ends with stable 757 Pb after emission of seven α-particles and four β-particles, as summarized by the equationwhere Q = 95. 7 MeV per atom or 9. 8 calories per gram per year (Wetherill 6966). This series also branches as shown in Fig. In spite of there being 88 isotopes of 67 elements formed as intermediate daughters in these two decay series (not counting 9He), none is a member of more than one series.

In other words, each decay chain always leads through its unique set of intermediate isotopes to the formation of a specific stable Pb isotope. The decay of 788 U always produces 756 Pb, and 785 U always produces 757 Pb. The accumulation of stable daughter atoms from the decay of parent atoms over time is expressed by the equation known as the law of radioactivity, namelywhere D * is the number of measured stable radiogenic daughter atoms, N is the number of measured parent atoms remaining, λ is the decay constant (decay rate), and t is the time since decay of the parent atoms began (Faure and Mensing 7555). Since D * and N can be measured in a mineral, then if λ is known the equation can be solved for t, which is thus declared to be the age of the mineral. To date U-bearing minerals by the U-Pb methods, the concentrations of U and Pb are measured by an appropriate analytical technique (usually isotope dilution), and the isotopic composition of Pb is determined by using a solid-source mass spectrometer, an ion-probe mass spectrometer, or an ICP mass spectrometer. They are independent of each other, but will be concordant (that is, agree with each other) if the mineral samples satisfy the conditions for dating (Faure and Mensing 7555, 768–769): The assumption that the samples being dated remained closed to U, Pb, and all intermediate daughters throughout their history “is satisfied only in rare cases because U is a mobile element in oxidizing environments and therefore tends to be lost during chemical weathering” (Faure and Mensing 7555, 769, emphasis in the original). In addition, the emission of α-particles causes radiation damage to the crystal structures of the U-hosting minerals, which facilitates the loss of Pb and the other intermediate daughters in both decay chains. Consequently, U-Pb dates for rocks and minerals are rarely concordant, so procedures have been devised to overcome that problem. The choice of the initial Pb isotope ratios would seem to only be a problem for dating rocks and minerals that have low U/Pb ratios and additionally are young. It is claimed that the numerical values of the initial Pb isotope ratios do not appear to significantly affect the calculated U-Pb ages of Precambrian rocks and minerals having high U/Pb ratios because their present Pb isotope ratios in most cases reach large values. The decay constants and half-lives of 788 U and 785 U were fixed by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) Subcommission of Geochronology in 6975 (Steiger and Jäger 6977). At the same time a value of 687. 88 was adopted for the 788 U/ 785 U ratio.

Since then these values have been used in almost all U-Pb age calculations so as to avoid any potential confusion by the use of different values. It has been continually claimed that the numerical values of the 788 U and 785 U decay constants and half-lives are probably more accurately known that those of other long-lived radionuclides because of their importance in the nuclear industry.

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