In a recent creationist video, he oh-so-subtly mentioned that there was the isotope carbon-14 (14C) not only in all layers of strata, but in equal amounts too, and that this was somehow proof of a world-wide flood. I have attempted to find a peer-reviewed scientific article regarding old rocks with carbon, but I've yet to find one.

I cannot, for the life of me, seem to find the video. I'll try my best, but I did find one article by the same guy: http://creationsciencehalloffame.org/2013/05/08/science/carbon-dating-believers-true-friend/


There is virtually no 14C in rocks more than a few hundreds of thousands of years old as 14C is radioactive with a half-life of only about 5,730 years. There is negligible 14C in fossil fuels (such as coal) for a start, which directly contradicts any claim that the 14C is the same in all strata.

Addendum: While the article linked in the question states that 14C is found in fossil fuels and rock strata, it is notable that there is no evidence or citation provided allowing this to be verified. There are however papers that would support this claim, for instance this one

Baumgardner, John R., et al. "Measurable 14C in fossilized organic materials: confirming the young earth creation-flood model." Proceedings of the fifth international conference on creationism. Vol. 2. Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, 2003. (pdf)

However, I wouldn't regard this as being a peer-reviewed scientific conference. If it were published in a regular scientific journal it would be rather different.

Note also that (as pointed out by @DavePhD in the comments below), small amounts of 14C may be formed in some rock strata by other mechanisms.

  • This is precisely what I thought. I'm somewhat familiar with radioactivity and decay, but this man (Russ Miller, by the way) claimed that there was 14C found in all layers of strata in equal amounts. – Goodies Nov 3 '14 at 17:36
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    well if by "equal amounts" he means "essentially zero" he is technically correct ;o) – Dikran Marsupial Nov 3 '14 at 17:37
  • @DikranMarsupial In the atmosphere, carbon-14 is formed by neutron capture of cosmic ray neutrons. Why would zero carbon-14 form underground; are you saying there is zero neutron flux underground? See Background neutron flux determination at a depth of 3200 mwe underground sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0168900294015279 and see Development of low-background vacuum extraction and graphitization systems for 14C dating of old (40–60 ka) samples sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040618206003235 where millions of years old Ceylon graphite is found to have C-14 – DavePhD May 2 '16 at 13:56
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    @DikranMarsupial I think it's relevant to the OP because the source in the OP is talking about finding C-14 in 570 million year old material "570 million years old, not only contain C-14, but in the same range of amounts from the top strata to the lowest layer". This is 100,000 half-lives! So on that time scale very small amounts of C-14 not originating from atmospheric CO2 but formed in situ would be the overwhelming majority of the C-14 present. Basically there would be a very low, but age-independent, C-14 content for materials that are millions of years old. – DavePhD May 3 '16 at 14:01
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    Now I asked a question about it on Earth Science SE earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/7949/… – DavePhD May 3 '16 at 15:53

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