It is only after we have made these assumptions that we can calculate an ‘age’ for the rock.
And when this is done, the ‘age’ of most rocks calculated in this way is usually very great, often millions of years.
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Another piece was crushed and the various mineral crystals were carefully separated out.3 The ‘whole rock’ rock powder and four mineral concentrates were submitted for potassium-argon analysis to Geochron Laboratories of Cambridge, MA—a high-quality, professional radioisotope-dating laboratory.
A correct answer would have been ‘zero argon’ indicating that the sample was too young to date by this method.
We also need to know whether potassium-40 or argon-40 have leaked into, or out of, the rock since it formed.
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It is clear that radioisotope dating is not the ‘gold standard’ of dating methods, or ‘proof’ for millions of years of Earth history.
When the method is tested on rocks of known age, it fails miserably.
Actually, the present lava dome at Mount St Helens is the third dome to form since the 1980 eruption, the previous two having been blasted away by the subsequent eruptions.
The current dome started growing after the volcano’s last explosive eruption on 17 October 1980.