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’ In fact, there is a whole range of standard explanations that geologists use to ‘interpret’ radiometric dating results.

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For example, a geologist may examine a cutting where the rocks appear as shown in Figure 1.

Here he can see that some curved sedimentary rocks have been cut vertically by a sheet of volcanic rock called a dyke.

It relates only to the accuracy of the measuring equipment in the laboratory.

Even different samples of rock collected from the same outcrop would give a larger scatter of results. He would again say that the calculated age did not represent the time when the rock solidified.

The field relationships are generally broad, and a wide range of ‘dates’ can be interpreted as the time when the lava solidified.

What would our geologist have thought if the date from the lab had been greater than 200 million years, say 350.5 ± 4.3 million years?

He may suggest that some other very old material had contaminated the lava as it passed through the earth.

Or he may suggest that the result was due to a characteristic of the lava—that the dyke had inherited an old ‘age’. 200.4 ± 3.2 million years) implies that the calculated date of 200.4 million years is accurate to plus or minus 3.2 million years.

No matter what the radiometric date turned out to be, our geologist would always be able to ‘interpret’ it.

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