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Sr-86 diffuses more quickly than Sr-87, and that has never been taken into account when isochrons are analyzed. Perhaps, but it’s rather tricky, because the rate of diffusion depends on the specific chemical and physical environment of each individual rock.If the effects of diffusion can be taken into account, it will require an elaborate model that will most certainly require elaborate assumptions. Hayes suggests a couple of other approaches that might work, but its not clear how well. If you believe the earth is very old, then most likely, all of the radioactive dates based on isochrons are probably overestimates. I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. Hayes’s model indicates it could add as much as 29 billion years to ages determined with rubidium and strontium, although his model is rather simplistic.One way this is done in many radioactive dating techniques is to use an isochron. To understand the problem, let’s start with an example of how radioactive dating works. Sr-87 is not radioactive, so the change is permanent.The elements rubidium and strontium are found in many rocks. As illustrated above, a neutron in a Rb-87 atom can eject an electron (often called a beta particle), which has a negative charge. We know how long it takes Rb-87 to turn into Sr-87, so in principle, if we analyze the amount of Rb-87 and Sr-87 in a rock, we should be able to tell how long the decay has been occurring.A helium balloon, for example, will deflate over time, because the helium atoms diffuse through the balloon and into the surrounding air.Well, diffusion depends on the mass of the thing that is diffusing. Hayes has brought it up, we can take it into account, right?
Most likely, that is the least important source of error.The amount of Sr-87 that was already in the rock when it formed, for example, should be proportional to the amount of Sr-86 that is currently there.Since the data are divided by the amount of Sr-86, the initial amount of Sr-87 is cancelled out in the analysis.That’s just over half a percent error in something that is supposedly multiple billions of years old.Of course, that error estimate is complete nonsense.