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In fact, he would have been equally happy with any date a bit less than 200 million years or a bit more than 30 million years.
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.
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.
’ In fact, there is a whole range of standard explanations that geologists use to ‘interpret’ radiometric dating results.
Someone may ask, ‘Why do geologists still use radiometric dating?