How accurate is radioactive dating of materials
Another method is to make age measurements on several samples from the same rock unit.
This technique helps identify post-formation geologic disturbances because different minerals respond differently to heating and chemical changes.
The slope of the line determines the date, and the closeness of fit is a measure of the statistical reliability of the resulting date.
Technical details on how these dates are calculated are given in Radiometric dating. As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain "glitches" and "anomalies," as noted in the literature.
Also, as the authors of the 1968 article were careful to explain, xenoliths cannot be dated by the K-Ar method because of excess argon in bubbles trapped inside [Dalrymple2006].
Thus in this case, as in many others that have been raised by skeptics of old-earth geology, the "anomaly" is more imaginary than real.
Whenever possible we design an age study to take advantage of other ways of checking the reliability of the age measurements.
In the particular case that Morris highlighted, the lava flow was unusual because it included numerous xenoliths (typically consisting of olivine, an iron-magnesium silicate material) that are foreign to the lava, having been carried from deep within the Earth but not completely melted in the lava.
Other objections raised by creationists are addressed in [Dalrymple2006a].
The overall reliability of radiometric dating was addressed in some detail in a recent book by Brent Dalrymple, a premier expert in the field. 80-81]: These methods provide valid age data in most instances, although there is a small percentage of instances in which even these generally reliable methods yield incorrect results.
Over a thousand papers on radiometric dating were published in scientifically recognized journals in the last year, and hundreds of thousands of dates have been published in the last 50 years.
Essentially all of these strongly favor an old Earth.