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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2008
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Claim CD011.5:

A piece of wood was fossilized in the Hawkesbury Sandstone, Australia, which most geologists date to the middle Triassic, about 225 to 230 million years ago. The wood was dated by Geochron (a commercial dating laboratory) using the carbon-14 method. Geochron determined its age to be only 33,720 +/- 430 years before present. Contamination by recent microbes or fungi cannot explain the discrepant age.


Snelling, Andrew, 1999. Dating Dilemma: Fossil wood in 'ancient' sandstone. Creation Ex Nihilo 21(3): 39-41.


  1. It is doubtful that the sample was even wood. Snelling was not even sure what the sample was. Nor could the staff at Geochron tell what the sample was (Walker 2000). It may not even have retained any of its original carbon. Using carbon dating was pointless from the start since it would inevitably give meaningless results.

  2. The sample was porous, making it likely that it would have absorbed organic carbon from the groundwater. It was probably this contaminating carbon that produced the date. Another possibility is that some 14C was created in situ by natural radioactivity in the surrounding rocks (Hunt 2002).

  3. Furthermore, 33,720 years is still significantly older than the age which many creationists, Snelling included, ascribe to the earth, and there are no plausible sources of error to make the age younger than 33,000 years.


Meert, Joe, 2003. Andrew Snelling and the iron concretion? (Includes a letter from GeoChron labs saying that the "wood" looked like an iron concretion)


  1. Hunt, Kathleen, 2002. Carbon-14 in coal deposits.
  2. Walker, Tas, 2000. Dating dilemma deepens: Moore on ancient radiocarbon.

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created 2001-2-18, modified 2008-1-4