Evolution in the News - August 2017
by Do-While Jones

Astronomical Time Scale

Did we find a hoax within a hoax?

When people pull your leg, they generally keep pulling harder and harder until you finally realize they are kidding. When we came to the part of a recent article that dated Graecopithecus by analyzing geologically preserved residual effects of star-made climate change,1 we were sure they were joking. To make sure, we did a literature search on “Astronomically Tuned Neogene Time Scale, ATNTS2012” expecting to find nothing. We were shocked to find several papers on it! A paper coauthored by people from Johns Hopkins University and Purdue University begins this way:

ABSTRACT: An important innovation in the International Geologic Time Scale 2004 is the use of astronomically forced stratigraphy, or cyclostratigraphy, to define geologic time over 0 to 23.03 Ma [million years], much of it at an unprecedented resolution of 0.02 myr [million years]. In addition, ‘floating’ astronomical time scales with 0.10 to 0.40 myr resolution are defined for entire epochs and stages in the Paleogene and all three Mesozoic periods. Some of these calibrations use a new astronomical model with an hypothesized high accuracy over 0-250 Ma. These accomplish­ments have motivated the International Commission on Stratigraphy to complete a continuous Astronomical Time Scale (‘ATS’) for the past 250 Ma, and to initiate a coordinated prospecting for astronomical-like signals in Paleozoic cyclostratigraphy. Astronomically calibrated geologic time with a 0.02 to 0.40 myr resolution is a major breakthrough for the geosciences. Chronostratigraphy between widely spaced horizons dated with high-precision radioisotope geochronology suffers total loss in precision and accuracy; a continuous ATS between horizons can restore this hard-won precision and accuracy. Conse­quently, estimates of rates and magnitudes for a wide range of Earth system processes that can be examined only in the context of Earth history, e.g., paleoclimatol­ogy, geochronology, geodynamics, structural geology, geochemical cycles and biotic evolution, will be improved up to an order of magnitude over what is possible today. 2

They came up with this because they know radioisotope dating isn’t precise or accurate. But they admit their Astronomical Time Scale has problems, too.

Three sources of uncertainty affect the ATS. First, lack of knowledge about Earth’s past tidal dissipation and its effect on the precession translates into an accumulating bias in the timing of obliquity and precession cycles back in time (Berger et al. 1992). This effect is noted in Figure 2E as a ‘tidal error’ in terms of potential deficit of years in the current La2004 precession model (Lourens et al. 2001, 2004). A second uncertainty source lies in chaotic diffusion in the solar system (Laskar 1990; Laskar et al. 1993, 2004). Earth’s orbital eccentricity is likely stable throughout most of the Cenozoic; between 50-100 Ma, however, Earth-Mars orbital resonance is thought to have undergone a transition (Laskar et al. 2004). In particular, the 2.4 myr amplitude modulation of the ~100-kyr terms of Earth’s orbital eccentricity may have been affected. The precise timing of this latest transition is not known; prior to the transition, orbital behavior cannot be modelled accurately. Fortunately, the 405-kyr orbital eccentricity term, from gravitational interaction between Jupiter and Venus, g2-g5, is thought to have remained very stable as well as dominant (due to the great mass of Jupiter) over several hundreds of millions of years, with an estimated uncertainty reaching only 500 kyr at 250 Ma (see ‘maximum error’, Fig. 2E). Finally, stratigraphic effects related to random depositional events or non-deposition comprise a third source of uncertainty. In many cases, these effects can be accounted for, for example, turbidites by visual inspection (Maurer et al. 2004), and hiatus detection by quantitative biostratigraphy (Cooper et al. 2001), time-frequency analysis (Meyers and Sageman 2004) and/or cyclostratigraphic correlation (Shackleton et al. 1999). 3

They think continents have been moving around for millions of years, and the positions of the continents will affect how high the tides will be, so they can’t compute the “past tidal dissipation” of energy. Asteroids and comets pass by Earth in a chaotic manner which would affect their calculations. Earth’s orbit around the Sun may have changed, so they can’t really model that. Most significantly, evolutionists often try to date things by measuring the amount of sediment that has accumulated, even though they know sedimentation probably isn’t constant.

Abstract. To explore cause and consequences of past climate change, very accurate age models such as those provided by the astronomical timescale (ATS) are needed. Beyond 40 million years the accuracy of the ATS critically depends on the correctness of orbital models and radioisotopic dating techniques. Discrepancies in the age dating of sedimentary successions and the lack of suitable records spanning the middle Eocene have prevented development of a continuous astronomically calibrated geological timescale for the entire Cenozoic Era. We now solve this problem by constructing an independent astrochronological stratigraphy based on Earth’s stable 405 kyr eccentricity cycle between 41 and 48 million years ago (Ma) with new data from deep-sea sedimentary sequences in the South Atlantic Ocean. This new link completes the Paleogene astronomical timescale and confirms the intercalibration of radioisotopic and astronomical dating methods back through the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 55.930 Ma) and the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (66.022 Ma). Coupling of the Paleogene 405 kyr cyclostratigraphic frameworks across the middle Eocene further paves the way for extending the ATS into the Mesozoic.

Limits in the accuracy of the astronomically calibrated geological timescale (ATS) are a consequence of uncertainties in astronomical solutions (Laskar et al., 2004, 2011a, b). Earth’s orbital eccentricity, the deviation of Earth’s orbit around the Sun from a perfect cycle, is widely used for astronomical calibrations (Hilgen, 2010; Hinnov, 2013). Accurate calculations of Earth’s short eccentricity cycle, which has an average period of ~100 kyr, are currently reliable back to 50 Ma and most likely will never extend beyond 60 Ma (Laskar et al., 2011b; Westerhold et al., 2012) due to chaotic behavior of large bodies within the asteroid belt.

Because controversy exists regarding the accuracy of high-precision radioisotope dating and astrochronological calibrations in the Paleocene and Eocene (Kuiper et al., 2008; Westerhold et al., 2012) and the exact age of the Fish Canyon Tuff (FCT) standard for 40Ar = 39Ar dating (Kuiper et al., 2008; Westerhold et al., 2012; Channell et al., 2010; Phillips and Matchan, 2013; Renne et al., 1998, 2010; Rivera et al., 2011; Wotzlaw et al., 2013, 2014; Zeeden et al., 2014), extension of the highly accurate ATS beyond 50 Ma into the early Cenozoic and Mesozoic time is not possible. 4

They really believe they can date fossils more accurately using residual effects of star-made climate change. That’s not real science.

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1 Madelaine Böhme, et al., PLOS ONE, May 22, 2017, “Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe”, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177347
2 Linda A. Hinnov and James G. Ogg, 2007, “Cyclostratigraphy and the Astronomical Time Scale”, http://www.earth-time.org/hinnovogg.pdf
3 ibid.
4 T. Westerhold, et al., 2015, Climate of the Past, “Astronomical calibration of the geological timescale: closing the middle Eocene gap”, https://www.clim-past.net/11/1181/2015/cp-11-1181-2015.pdf