Of course, the detected variation is no more than 0.2% of the published rates, but this paper is still quite interesting since such a correlation was never suspected before.If magnetic fluxuations or other influencing forces are strong enough, radiometric decay rates could be much more significantly effected.
Most sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, limestone, and shale (which do contain fossils) are related to the radiometric time scale by bracketing them within time zones that are determined by dating appropriately selected igneous rocks in lava flows, or weathered from lava flows.
Of course there seem to me to be fairly reasonable explanations for this observation which may allow for more slowly forming granitic rocks.
For instance, polonium radiohalos are sometimes associated with polonium bands generated by the polonium being transported by hydrothermal fluids along fractures.
In short, the assumption that decay rates are immune to outside influences isn't as solid as it once appeared to be.
However, if one does assume a constant decay rate, and if one starts with an originally pure sample of “parent element,” then the proportion of parent to daughter tells us the number of half-lives, which has been used to find the supposed age of igneous rocks. The conclusions of Renne and his team read as follows: Ar can be identified in volcanic sanidine, and while perhaps negligible in pre-Holocene rocks, it has important consequences for sample at the limit of the method’s applicability.