History of radiometric dating
The story of this great change in the conception of the history of Earth is not a simple one.
The chronicle of this great change can be broken into five periods; ran from AD 1600-1700.
The physical models were open to question and, in retrospect, were naive. It became quite clear that many areas of the Earth had alternated between being land and being covered by seas, that there had been extensive slow sedimentation, that the mountains had not been created in situ as is but rather had a long history of slow deformation, and that long periods of erosion had shaped the Earth everywhere.
By the early 1800's it was generally accepted that the Earth had a long history. The uniformatarians (Hutton 1788, Lyell 1830) pictured the Earth as being indefinitely old.
The attempts produced estimates from about 100 million years up to several billion years. The first is that the geological history was still being reconstructed.In the 1700's belief in a 6000 year old Earth crumbled.Attempts to calculate the age of the Earth from physical considerations yielded estimates that ranged from 75,000 years (Buffon, 1774) to several billion years (de Maillet, Buffon).In this period a number of comprehensive cosmogonies were proposed.These were long on armchair speculation and short on substantive supporting evidence.
The catastrophists (Cuvier 1812, de Beaumont 1852, Buckland 1836) accepted that the Earth was old; they disagreed with the kind of change and the rate of change that had occurred over that long history.