Paper Abstracts

Tree-ring dating

R.W. Sanders

Discipline: Geology

Abstract: This paper 1) reviews the creationist literature concerning the use of tree growth rings in determining the ages of long-lived trees, developing post-Pleistocene chronologies, calibrating radiocarbon dates, and estimating past climates, and 2) suggests positive research directions using these data to develop creationist models of biblical earth history. Only a single author attempted to use tree-ring data to model pre-Flood climate zonation. However, most commentaries and studies focused on dendrochronology and using it to calibrate radiocarbon dates. Of these, most authors either 1) accepted conventional use of rings as annual indicators but rejected cross-matching with dead logs to produce master tree-ring chronologies extending to a date that may predate the Flood, or 2) proposed multiple rings per year reducing the dates to post-date the Flood, or 3) some combination of 1 and 2, or 4) accepted annual rings and cross-matched master chronologies but extended the date of the Flood prior to those chronologies via biblically acceptable gaps. All authors concerned with radiocarbon dating accepted it as reproducible but disagreed concerning the calibration provided by master chronologies, especially that of the bristlecone pine. The main issues raised by those objecting to calibration is that master chronologies are unreliable and the radiocarbon production rate has varied widely from the Flood until now. This paper calls for research into six areas (biblical studies, physiology of tree growth, C-14 flux through time, possible C-14 contamination, geologic and climatic context of Flood/post-Flood, and biogeographic history of dated trees) to attempt to resolve some of these disagreements and unknowns in order to build a consensus dendrochronology calibration model to convert radiocarbon dates into real time. This paper also calls for research to build creationist models of past environments, but this largely depends on first resolving the dendrochronology issues.