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Posted by / 17-Jul-2020 11:33

One assumption that can be made is that all the lead in the sample was once uranium, but if there was lead there to start with, this assumption is not valid, and any date based on that assumption will be incorrect (too old).

Lots of factors have to be taken in to consideration when sampling, including the angle of the surface of the boulder, the presence of nearby mountains that block some of the sky from view, the exact altitude and also the latitude of the sampled boulder.

The lines crossing this mountainside above Lake Ohau are lateral moraines left behind as the glacier gradually lowered, and finally vanished at the end of the ice age.

One of the best methods of dating these moraines is by measuring the concentration of the isotope beryllium-10 in the top surface of large boulders situated on them.

Another assumption is that the rate of decay is constant over long periods of time.

Radiometric dating requires that the decay rates of the isotopes involved be accurately known, and that there is confidence that these decay rates are constant. The physical constants (nucleon masses, fine structure constant) involved in radioactive decay are well characterized, and the processes are well understood.

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This photo shows how Lake Ohau is dammed by a rim of 18 000 year old moraines around its southern margin.