November 17, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Discovery Upsets Geological Dating

How can inclusions in zircons have vastly
different ages if the zircons are impermeable?


For a long time, geologists have used microscopic crystals called zircons as “time capsules” for dating rock strata. The tiny crystals are so durable it was believed they were virtually impermeable. Now, however, inclusions inside the zircons appear to be vastly different in age. This could have drastic effects on how certain formations are dated.

According to Science Magazine News, Earth’s time capsules “may be flawed.” An Australian team took a look at about 7,000 zircons from the Jack Hills of western Australia, a conglomerate formation containing pebbles that have undergone heavy bouts of metamorphism. The zircons were thought to be between 2.65 and 3.05 billion years old. A few had inclusions, and some of the inclusions that were dated using radiometric means came out as young as 800 million years – the assumed date of the surrounding metamorphic rock.

This means that zircons are not as protected from outside influence as thought. The scientists could find no way in for younger radioactive material to get inside some of the “young” inclusions – no hairline fractures, for instance. If carried in by fluids, “the fluids may have traveled along defects in the zircon’s crystal structure caused by radioactive decay or along pathways that are either too small to see or oriented such that they’re invisible.”

Reporter Sid Perkins described how this finding may “stir people up”:

In recent years, some researchers have used analyses of zircons and their inclusions—and in particular, the temperatures and pressures they’ve been exposed to since their formation—to infer the presence of oceans or of modern-style plate tectonics on Earth more than 4 billion years ago, well before previously suspected, Rasmussen says. But based on the team’s new findings, which will be reported next month in Geology, those conclusions are suspect, he notes.

Another geologist was even more worried. “The results ‘suggest that analyses of zircon inclusions can’t be trusted much at all,’ adds Jonathan Patchett, an isotope geochemist at the University of Arizona in Tucson.” Another geologist was not so pessimistic but warned that use of zircon dating information will have to be done more carefully from now on.

How careful is careful enough? The pathways into the zircons are invisible. Geologists have had a habit of using the data they like for their preconceived timeline, and tossing out the anomalies. Well, the RATE team at ICR found plenty of anomalies for them that date these rocks at thousands, not millions of years old (let alone billions). It’s all published online; go look at it at If the secular geologists weren’t so wedded to Darwin, they would have to take these anomalies seriously, even if they disagree with the world view of the creation scientists. (Don’t imagine for a moment that there is such a thing as a scientist without a world view).

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  • Shawn says:

    Nothing will ever supersede the joy in my heart as the day when our King and Creator returns to Earth to rule and reign forever, however, the day evolution is taken off of its pedestal and shown for the flawed, manipulative, and perverse tool that it is has no competition for second. Bless you for this wonderful work!

  • Steve Drake says:

    The age of the earth is where the battle rages the loudest at the moment. It’s where evolutionary geologists and compromising Christians (BioLogos, theistic evolutionists, framework hypothesizers, analogicalists, day-agers, gappers), think they have the upper hand. Denying that Adam is historical, that woman came out of man, that death came from Adam’s sin, and that there was an historical, global and universal Flood, we are seeing the unmitigated dismantling of historic Christianity. I’m sure you guys saw this and thus the RATE initiative and published conclusions. It is the work of laypersons in every denomination and church across this globe to use this information and educate ourselves to then speak up, train, persuade without timidity our sons and daughters, pastors, extended family and beloved friends, if we are to see any hope of survival from this onslaught.

  • Rkyway says:

    ‘The tiny crystals are so durable it was believed they were virtually impermeable.’

    – Evolutionary geologists have been carelessly throwing dates around like kids throwing boomerangs, but now it seems like some of them are coming back to haunt them. There’s no way to determine an absolute date for the earth, as every calculation (clock) one uses depends on unproven assumptions; and here’s an example.

  • TasWalker says:

    The other unknown about zircons is the initial concentrations of isotopes. How do we know what it was?

  • mlmticket says:

    This article was great But I found the link you provided from Science Magazine News is down right now. I found the right address:

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