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A plot is constructed of Pb-206/Pb-204 versus Pb-207/Pb-204.If the solar system formed from a common pool of matter, which was uniformly distributed in terms of Pb isotope ratios, then the initial plots for all objects from that pool of matter would fall on a single point.Some of these rocks are sedimentary, and include minerals which are themselves as old as 4.1 to 4.2 billion years.Rocks of this age are relatively rare, however rocks that are at least 3.5 billion years in age have been found on North America, Greenland, Australia, Africa, and Asia.(I believe this argument was originally put forth by Mormon young-Earther Melvin Cook, in a letter to the editor which was published in .) But helium can and does escape from the atmosphere, at rates calculated to be nearly identical to rates of production.
This involves measurement of three isotopes of lead (Pb-206, Pb-207, and either Pb-208 or Pb-204).And from the slope of the line we can compute the amount of time which has passed since the pool of matter became separated into individual objects.See the Isochron Dating FAQ or Faure (1986, chapter 18) for technical detail.Note that young-Earthers cannot accuse us of selective use of data -- the above table includes a significant fraction of all meteorites on which isotope dating has been attempted. 286) , less than 100 meteorites have been subjected to isotope dating, and of those about 70 yield ages with low analytical error.Further, the oldest age determinations of individual meteorites generally give concordant ages by multiple radiometric means, or multiple tests across different samples.