More Errors On True.Origin: J. Sarfati's
Support of Flood Geology
Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.
(Some links updated: 9 July, 2003)
"J. Sarfati's post is full of outdated and erroneous claims that could be easily corrected if he would just read some undergraduate geology textbooks."
--Kevin R. Henke
Kevin Henke has a Ph.D in geology from the University of North Dakota (i.e., south Canada). He is now with the University of Kentucky, USA.
Young-Earth creationist (YEC) Jonathan D. Sarfati has written a response "Problems with a Global Flood"? to Mark Isaak's "Problems with a Global Flood FAQ" at the Talk.Origins Archive. In this report, I will discuss some of the problems in J. Sarfati's response and provide additional reasons on why "Flood geology" is bogus. J. Sarfatis report also contains a lot of unnecessary and childish name-calling against Mark Isaak and others, which says something about Sarfati's level of maturity and objectivity.
The first part of J. Sarfati's report largely relies on the unlikely and ad hoc arguments for Noah's Ark in "Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study" (1996) by YEC John Woodmorappe (pseudonym). Woodmorappe's book consists of one unlikely scenario piled on top of another, which is a gross violation of Occam's razor. It's just easier and rational to admit that Noah's Flood is fiction than to believe that Noah could have pulled off such a trip without a desperate supply of unproven miracles. Nevertheless, most of the arguments in Woodmorappe's book do not deal with geology and so I won't comment on them any further. For more information, see former YEC Glenn Morton's article at Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, which discusses several of the unlikely claims in Woodmorappe (1996). Woodmorappe's insult-filled response is also included at this website.
ORIGIN OF HEMATITE
M. Isaak states that hematite layers in Banded Iron Formations (BIFs) cannot develop in the presence of an oxygen-rich atmosphere. J. Sarfati attacks Isaak's claim by stating that hematite (Fe2O3) is a well-oxidized mineral and that its formation must indicate the presence of abundant O2. Sarfati is correct when he states that hematite is well-oxidized iron. However, the presence of hematite in early to middle Precambrian rocks doesn't mean that free oxygen (O2) was at current levels in the early to middle Precambrian atmosphere. Isaak is right. The real problem for YECs is how large areas of Banded Iron Formations (BIFs) with abundant highly pure layers of hematite could have developed in any O2-rich atmosphere that was needed to support Adam and Eve. BIFs are iron-rich deposits that mostly consist of magnetite (Fe3O4, a partially reduced iron mineral), chert (fine-grained silica) and hematite (Fe2O3). Some BIFs extend over distances of 1500 km (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 604), but contain very few clastic materials (Blatt et al., 1980, p.599, 605), which suggests that BIFs formed by chemical precipitation over large areas of the Precambrian oceans (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 604-607).
BIFs are rarely found in rocks that are less than about 1.8 billion years old (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 604). The youngest BIFs are 600 to 800 million years old (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 607). The geologic evidence indicates that after about 1.8-2 billion years ago, O2 levels in the atmosphere became sufficient enough to largely prevent the formation of BIFs. Ironstones and red beds replaced BIFs in the late Precambrian and Phanerozoic geologic records (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 598-608).
The early to middle Precambrian terrestrial atmosphere was probably rich in CO2 and low in O2, somewhat like Venus' atmosphere is today. A high CO2, low O2 atmosphere would have produced acidic oceans (Krauskopf and Bird, 1995, p. 578). The presence of acidic oceans helps explain the formation of BIFs and the usual absence of dolostones and limestones in early and middle Precambrian rocks. Dolomite and calcite would have been very soluble in the acidic waters and would not have precipitated as dolostones or limestones. Acidic oceans and a low O2 atmosphere could also readily explain the abundant silica in BIFs. When compared with current mildly alkaline sea water, acidic ocean water would have been more effective in breaking down silicate minerals and mobilizing colloidal silica for later chert deposition (Krauskopf, 1979, p. 214; Krauskopf and Bird, 1995, p. 363).
Some of the BIFs that are older than 2.6 billion years are clearly associated with volcanics and the volcanoes could have been sources of abundant iron (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 606). However, the 1.8 to 2.6 billion year old "Superior type" BIFs typically show no direct association with volcanism (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 604, 606). Their iron probably came from the SLOW weathering of Fe2+ from silicates (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 606-607). Considering how long weathering processes take (Meyer, 1997, p. 120), it is doubtful that young-Earth creationism could have provided enough weathering time for the formation of the Superior type BIFs.
Under a low O2 atmosphere, Fe2+ would have been quite soluble and well distributed in early acidic oceans, which can explain the widespread distribution of hematite and magnetite layers in BIFs (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 607). Initially, some of the dissolved Fe2+ in the acidic Precambrian ocean waters probably precipitated as iron sulfides. The low levels of oxygen in the Precambrian oceans also could have been sufficient enough to partially oxidize large amounts of Fe2+ to Fe3+ and precipitate thin layers of geothite, limonite or other iron compounds over large areas (Krauskopf and Bird, 1995, p. 360-363). Also see Banded Iron Formation for more information. Over time (which is something that YECs don't have much of) buried layers of geothite, limonite and other iron compounds would have dehydrated and converted to hematite and magnetite (Krauskopf and Bird, 1995, p. 362).
Because Sarfati has a Ph.D. in chemistry, it's truly surprising that he doesn't seem to understand the difference between concentration and mass (see his note on BIFs and oxygen at Problems with a Global Flood? Although each liter of early to middle Precambrian seawater contained very little O2 (low concentrations of O2, which allowed for the formation of high concentrations of Fe2+), the huge volume of seawater would still have provided more than enough oxygen to ultimately produce BIFs with layers of Fe3+ compounds that may extend for more than 1500 km.
Once oxygen became abundant in the Earth's atmosphere (about 2 billion years ago) Fe2+ could no longer form. Instead, highly insoluble Fe3+ compounds would have immediately developed from the weathering of outcrops. Because of their insolubility in neutral surface waters and alkaline seawater, the Fe3+ compounds would have been less mobile and would have formed clastic red beds and relatively localized ironstones.
Rye and Holland (1998) also present evidence from Precambrian soils that O2 levels dramatically increased to more than 0.03 atmospheres between 2.2 and 2.0 billion years ago. Increases in atmospheric O2 at 2.0 to 2.2 billion years are consistent with the large disappearance of BIFs at about this time or a little later. However, the formation of these soils under a low O2 atmosphere is completely inconsistent with the YEC "Creation Week" where abundant O2 is needed to support the birds and aquatic animals on the "5th Day" and the land animals and Adam on "Day Six". Because the excellent and consistent scientific evidence for a low-O2 early to middle Precambrian atmosphere refutes their interpretations of Genesis, Sarfati and other YECs will never accept any of this evidence, no matter how good it is.
ORIGINS OF LAYERED SEDIMENTS, INCLUDING VARVES
Laminae are very thin, parallel layers of sediment or sedimentary rock. By definition, laminae are less than one centimeter (cm) thick (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 129). Sometimes, hundreds of thousands or millions of laminae may be stacked on top of each other. The lateral length of laminae varies greatly and, in some cases, individual lamina have been laterally traced for at least 90 kilometers (55 miles) (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 553)!!
J. Sarfati quotes Sedimentation Experiment: Nature Finally Catches Up!, which provides an example at Mt. St. Helens where a 7.6 meter (25 feet) thick pyroclastic "flow" (and/or pyroclastic surge?, Carey, 1991; Walker and McBroome, 1983; Hoblitt and Miller, 1984; Waitt, 1984; Walker and Morgan, 1984) was deposited in only a few hours. The deposit was documented and photographed by YEC Steve Austin. Discussions at Sedimentation Experiment: Nature Finally Catches Up! describe the 7.6 meter thick pyroclastic deposit as having "thin laminae" of fine and coarse ash with some cross-bedding. J. Sarfati and YEC Snelling at Sedimentation Experiment: Nature Finally Catches Up! use this example to loudly proclaim that YEC Austin has made an important discovery at Mt. St. Helens; that is, laminar- and cross-beds can rapidly form.
Before J. Sarfati and other YECs further proclaim Austin's "discovery" of rapidly developing laminae and cross-bedding, they should look at the literature and learn some geology. For decades, geologists have known that cross-bedding and laminae can form in rapidly deposited pyroclastics (especially, surges) (Fisher and Schmincke, 1984, p. 107-115, 191, 192, 198-206, 247-256; Schmincke et al., 1973; Carey, 1991). For example, Schmincke et al. (1973) discussed the presence of laminar- and cross-bedding in a pyroclastic deposit at Laacher See, Germany. Many of the features seen in pyroclastics, such as cross-bedding, antidunes and laminar features, resemble those seen in "Bouma sequences," which typically form in natural catastrophic turbidite flows (Schmincke et al., 1973; Fisher and Schmincke, 1984, p. 107-115). Bouma developed his sequence way back in 1962 and he knew that the laminar bedding in the sequences were the result of rapid flows (Bouma, 1962). At the same time, laminae and cross-beds may also slowly form in quiet, gradually changing environments (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 133-135).
Clearly, Austin's work at Mt. St. Helens is nothing unique or revolutionary. It's just another pyroclastic deposit with ordinary laminar- and cross-beds. Austin is also not the only person investigating the recent features on Mt. St. Helens. Carey (1991) and Fisher and Schmincke (1984) mention numerous investigations (as examples: Hoblitt, 1986; Druitt, 1989; Fisher et al., 1987; Keiffer, 1981; Moore and Sisson, 1981). Fisher and Schmincke (1984, p. 191) even include a nice photograph of inverse graded bedding in an ash deposit from the May, 1980 eruption at Mt. St. Helens.
J. Sarfati, Austin (1994, p.37-39), and other YECs are also fond of citing a number of references, which indicate through field and laboratory studies that laminae may form very quickly (as examples: Kuenen, 1966; Berthault, 1986; Berthault, 1988a; Bailey and Weir, 1932; Ball et al., 1967). By looking at when Bailey and Weir (1932), Kuenen (1966), and Ball et al. (1967) were written, it is clear that most of this is nothing new (also see: Bouma, 1962; Schmincke et al., 1973). However, from reading J. Sarfatis essay and YEC Snelling at Sedimentation Experiment: Nature Finally Catches Up!, the reader gets the impression that creationist Berthault (1986, 1988a, 1988b, 1990) recognized the fast formation of a certain type of laminae about 10 years before Makse et al. (1997) and the editors of the prestigious journal, Nature. Berthault's work appears to be valid, although I don't know if he was producing the same type of multilaminar features that are discussed in Makse et al. (1997). Snelling at Sedimentation Experiment: Nature Finally Catches Up! also suggests that Makse et al. (1997) unfairly ignored Berthault (1986, 1988a, 1988b, 1990). Snelling implies that Makse et al. (1997) did so because of Berthault's creationist ties. However, Berthault might have scooped Makse et al. (1997) if he had published in Nature or Science rather than in French or creationist journals. Whether Snelling recognizes it or not, non-English journals are often ignored in English-speaking countries and creationist "journals" are not widely circulated or read by scientists.
GREEN RIVER FORMATION
Some, but not all, laminae are varves. Varves are couplets of laminae that result from seasonal changes. Typically, varves consist of alternating light- and dark-colored layers (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 133). In temperate lakes, for example, the light layers may form from sediment runoff during the summers, while the dark layers may represent organic matter that settled during the winters. Frequently, each couplet represents an annual accumulation of sediment. Therefore, by counting couplets, the age or length of the accumulation time may be estimated for a series of varves. In a way, varves resemble tree-rings.
The famous Green River Formation of Wyoming contains numerous laminae, some of which are varves. The formation and its varves probably developed in several large Eocene lakes. The Green River Formation is frequently cited by YEC critics because the numerous varves refute both "Flood geology" and a "young" creationist Earth. J. Sarfati and other YECs argue that the rocks of the Grand Canyon and the Green River Formation and its varves may have formed rapidly, just like Austin's pyroclastic "flow" at Mt. St. Helens. However, clearly, it is a gross mistake for J. Sarfati and his YEC allies to assume that the rapid processes that formed a pyroclastic deposit at Mt. St. Helens can be scaled up to explain the geology of the Grand Canyon or the delicate and extensive varves of the Green River Formation. For example, as far as I know, the laminae of the Green River Formation do not include cross-bedding, antidunes or other features that are present in Bouma sequences and many pyroclastic deposits.
Now, there is no doubt that multiple laminae MAY form in a single season or even from a single storm or sediment flow as Austin (1994, p. 37-39) and other YECs claim. However, YECs are mistaken if they believe that ALL laminae form rapidly. Glenn Morton at Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look, for example, cites Lambert and Hsu (1979) and illustrates the great differences between regularly spaced annual varves from Lake Zurich, Switzerland, and noticeably irregular storm laminae from Lake Walensee, also in Switzerland. YEC Austin (1994, p. 38) mentions the storm laminae from Lambert and Hsu (1979), but fails to quote Lambert and Hsu's (1979, p. 460) clear statement that annual varves do exist in other Swiss lakes, such as Lake Zurich. By failing to properly quote Lambert and Hsu (1979, p. 460), Austin (1994, p .38) gives the false impression that there are no annual varves in any Swiss lakes.
Glenn Morton at Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look also discusses how pollen supports the validity of varves in another Swiss lake. The varves and their pollen record the sedimentation history of the lake back to at least 7,000 years ago!
As part of their efforts to discredit the presence of varves in the Green River Formation, Austin (1994, p. 39) and other YECs often cite Buchheim and Biaggi (1988). J. Sarfati makes a vague reference to this paper by saying that the presence of a pair of volcanic ash layers in the Green River Formation undermines the "evaporite mechanism" for the formation. Buchheim and Biaggi (1988) is only a brief abstract, but the authors expressed skepticism about the presence of varves in at least one portion of the formation. The number of laminae situated between two volcanic ash layers (tuffs) varied from 1160 to 1568 with the number and thickness of the laminae increasing from the basin center to the margin. Both geologists and YECs would agree that the ash layers were probably deposited rapidly after winds brought in the ash from distant volcanic eruptions. If the laminae between the two ash layers were true annual varves and IF none of the laminae were eroded then there should be no discrepancy between the number of laminae between the two ash layers.
Now, scientists KNOW that NOT all of the layering in the Green River Formation are varves (Ripepe et al., 1991, p. 1155). Specifically, the Tipton, Laney and Wilkins Peak Members of the Green River Formation frequently contain varves. The Wilkins Peak Member also contains abundant salt deposits that formed from dry evaporating conditions, which, by the way, are incompatible with a wet raging "Flood". These salts would have dissolved and dispersed in any "Flood" waters. Because the Wilkins Peaks Member is sandwiched between the Tipton and the Laney members (see Figure 2, p. 1147 in Fischer and Roberts, 1991), this means that the area experienced deep lake conditions as the Tipton was deposited, followed by the drier conditions of the Wilkins Peak and finally BACK to the deeper water of the Laney Member. That's a lot of deposition and climatic change for even 6,000 years. Miall (1990, p. 489) also notes that the Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation consists of kerogen-rich layers that formed during humid lacustrine phases and kerogen-poor layers that resulted from ARID playa phases.
Some individual varves in the Green River Formation may extend for ten's of kilometers (Fischer and Roberts, l99l, p. 1148) and there are more than 5,000,000 individual couplets or a total of more than 10,000,000 individual layers (Strahler, 1987, p. 233). J. Sarfati quotes Berthault (1988b, 1990) and invokes a "self-sorting mechanism" to explain the rapid formation of numerous laminae at once in the Green River Formation. So, if this "sorting mechanism" was responsible for the laminae in the Green River Formation, how could this mechanism instantly produce numerous fine-grained laminae over ten's of kilometers (Fischer and Roberts, 1991, p. 1148)? It's one thing to rapidly produce some laminae in a laboratory separatory funnel (see Figure 1 in Sedimentation Experiment: Nature Finally Catches Up!, it's another thing to rapidly deposit thin layers of very fine-grained clay and silt over ten's of kilometers. That is, unlike relatively coarse sand particles, very small particles (silts and clays) take TIME to settle out of solution. So, how could Berthault's "self-sorting mechanism" speed up the deposition of silts and clays? Even the YECs at Varves: Problems for Standard Chronology admit that silts take days to settle out of turbulent water and clays even longer. Even if the 10,000,000 layers of the Green River Formation formed in only 6,000 years, an average of 4.6 layers would have to settle out COMPLETELY in one DAY! That's too fast and chaotic for both the laws of physics and the geology of the formation. Of course, things become even worse for YECs, since in their minds, the Green River Formation either formed during the year-long "Flood" or in the 4,000 or so years of "post-Flood" history. Already, young-Earth creationism is refuted. YECs must also explain how 10,000,000 layers, some of which may extend over tens of kilometers, can catastrophically form without eroding previously deposited layers or producing cross-bedding and other non-linear features. Simply hoping that Berthault's laboratory work could somehow be scaled up to ten's of kilometers isn't good enough.
Worst of all for young-Earth creationism, variations in varve thickness within the Green River Formation clearly fall into regular cycles, several of which correlate beautifully with various LONG-TERM climatic and astronomical cycles (Fischer and Roberts, 1991; Ripepe et al. 1991):
Cycle in Years*
In Green River Formation?
ENSO (El Nino!!)
Long eccentricity cycle
*The lengths of some of these cycles have slowly changed over geologic time (Van Andel, 1994, p. 243-244).
Notice that the cause(s) of some of the cycles have not been explained. Other expected cycles were not detected in the research discussed in Fischer and Roberts (1991) and Ripepe et al. (1991). The cycles are real; there's no conspiracy here. Petrographic, statistical and geophysical methods have detected the cycles and some of them have been seen over and over and over again in the Green River Formation for the past 70 years.
Notice that YEC web sites, like this one: Varves: Problems for Standard Chronology or the one recommended by J. Sarfati: Green River Blues, completely IGNORE the associations between varve thickness and astronomical and climatic cycles. Why? Because these correlations utterly refute young-Earth creationism and YECs haven't been able to cook up any natural explanations to deal with them. Why would laminae segregate by cycles to conform to the Earth's eccentricity if the Earth is too young to have completed even one of these cycles? How did Noah's "Flood" or "post-Flood" conditions counterfeit the effects of ENSO and the sunspot cycles in these varves? No rivers, turbidity currents, or any questionable speculations based on Berthault's laboratory results can explain them either. YEC claims (they're too inadequate to be called models) for the origin of the Green River Formation are too fast and chaotic to be affected by subtle astronomical and climate cycles. Quiet and stagnant water is needed to record these astronomical processes and slow climatic changes. All YECs can do is invoke groundless miracles or ignore 70 years of research and just refuse to acknowledge the existence of the cycles.
The Green River Formation contains some beautifully preserved fish and other fossils. However, except for microfossils, fossil-bearing laminae are uncommon in the formation (Fischer and Roberts, 1991, p. 1147). J. Sarfati and other YECs are skeptical that dead fish could have laid undisturbed on the bottom of lakes where they were slowly encapsulated into varves over many years. YECs insist that the fish and other well-preserved fossils had to have been buried quickly by "Noah's Flood" or subsequent "post-Flood" catastrophe(s). Otherwise, they claim, the fossils would have been destroyed by decay and scavengers.
Drever (1997, p. 166-169) states that the bottoms of deep water (eutrophic) lakes may become very anaerobic if the cold bottom waters (the hypolimnion) remain dense and stagnant. That is, the bottom waters of lakes may not experience frequent seasonal mixing and aeration, especially in depositional environments like those of the Green River Formation, where the bottom waters were probably saltier and, therefore more dense, than the surface waters (Drever, 1997, p. 169; Fisher and Roberts, 1991, p. 1147). Currently, these eutrophic conditions are also present in the Black Sea (North, 1990, p. 44).
Fischer and Roberts (1991, p. 1147) and Strahler (1987, p. 233) further discuss in more detail the field and geochemical evidence on why scavengers were often absent in the Green River Formation. Not only was the deep and quiet water too stagnant (low oxygen) and salty to support scavengers and aerobic decay-promoting bacteria, but the water probably had too much highly poisonous H2S to support scavengers, burrowing organisms, and most bacteria that would have destroyed organic remains and disrupted varve structures. Strong currents would also not have been expected in the stagnant water, so the fish corpses could have remained intact and undisturbed for many years until burial. Nevertheless, Ripepe et al. (1991, p. 1157) show photographs of varves that have undergone possible small-scale bioturbation, so varve disruption and decay may have occurred at some of the sites.
The Green River Formation represents only a small fraction of the geologic record, but by itself it sinks both young-Earth creationism and Flood geology. Glenn Morton gives examples of other cyclic sedimentary rocks (Devonian Catskill Delta, Triassic Hungarian carbonates, and Newark Basin of New Jersey) that refute young-Earth creationism at Why the Flood is not Global.
MARINE SEDIMENTS ON MOUNTAIN TOPS
Plate tectonics has shown that sedimentary and other rocks may be uplifted to form mountains such as the Appalachians or Himalayas. For example, see the diagrams in Strahler (1987, chapter 20). YECs, such as Morris (1978, p. 98), however, claim that marine fossils on the crests of mountains are evidence of "Noah's Flood." The idea that rising or retreating waters from Noah's "Flood" deposited fossils on the slopes of mountains is not new. Leonardo DaVinci investigated this idea about 500 years ago and correctly concluded that fossils at high elevations in Italy resulted from the uplift of beach deposits rather than being deposited by Noah's "Flood" (Young, 1982, p. 36).
Also look at Creationist Geologic Time Scale: an attack strategy for the sciences. This site has some good arguments on why "Flood deposits" couldn't have dewatered and solidified rapidly enough to form the high walls of the Grand Canyon. Contrary to what many YECs might believe, sedimentary rocks DO NOT typically solidify like concrete!!
MULTIPLE GLACIATIONS: INCOMPATIBLE WITH "NOAH'S FLOOD"
J. Sarfati, like most YECs, believes that there was only one ice age during the Earth's history and it supposedly occurred after "Noah's Flood." YECs recognize that multiple Pleistocene and any pre-Pleistocene glaciations threaten the very foundation of young-Earth creationism; that is, glaciers simply can't develop in the middle of Noah's Flood and the Earth is too young to have multiple waxing and waning ice sheets. Nevertheless, geologists have found abundant field evidence for several glacial events during the Earth's history: 2.3 billion years ago, in the late Precambrian, in the Ordovician/Silurian, in the Devonian of Brazil, in the Late Pennsylvania/early Permian, and several glaciations during the Pleistocene (Strahler, 1987, p. 265; Hambrey, 1985; Caputo, 1985; Andersen and Borns, 1994). Sometimes these glacial features provide detailed information on paleoclimates. For example, sand wedge polygons in 650 million year old glacial deposits in Australia indicate typical winter temperatures of -35C and only 4C in the summer (Williams, 1989, p. 97; Williams, 1986). Williams (1986) discusses the presence of fossil permafrost horizons, ice- and sand-wedge structures, and other Late Precambrian permafrost and glacial features. There are even nice photographs of Precambrian cold climate sandstone wedges in Williams (1986, p. 237). As Williams (1986, p. 234) states, sand/sandstone wedges imply cold and dry conditions, while ice wedges develop in wetter, but still cold, climates. The periglacial and glacial features shown and discussed in Williams (1986; 1989) are hardly consistent with YEC claims of a "warm Pre-Flood world."
By using countless misquotations from the literature, YEC Oard (1997) attempts to deny the existence of Pre-Pleistocene glaciations. The numerous errors, misquotations of the literature, and logical fallacies in Oard (1997) are discussed in detail at Ancient Ice Ages AND Submarine Landslides, but NOT Noah's Flood.
The sequence of events associated with the development of angular unconformities is very straight-forward and has been understood for hundreds of years (Press and Siever, 2001, Figure 9.8, p. 193). Nevertheless, J. Sarfati suggests that angular unconformities are simply a "matter of interpretation." J. Sarfati's YEC ally, Steve Austin, would probably disagree with Sarfati's uninformed claim (Austin, 1994, p. 43-47, chapter 2 and 4). For example, Austin (1994, p. 45-47, 59-67) extensively discusses the angular unconformity between the Tapeats Sandstone and the underlying Precambrian rocks at the Grand Canyon. This contact is traditionally called the "Great Unconformity" (Austin, 1994, p. 45; Elston, 1989, p. 96). Austin (1994, p. 23-24) recognizes the validity of elementary field geology techniques, which state that unless the rocks have been overturned, overlying rocks are younger than underlying rocks. This makes sense. In order to deposit sediment on top of a rock, the rock has to be there before the sediment arrives. In addition, if an angular unconformity is present, the underlying dipping rocks must have formed, been folded and partially eroded before the overlying horizontal layers were deposited.
Both YECs and geologists would basically agree with the following sequence of events from oldest (1) to youngest (7) that is associated with the Great Unconformity at the Grand Canyon:
1. (Oldest) Deposition of thick sequences of volcanics and sediments that later became the Vishnu Schist.
2. Injection of Zoroaster Plutonic Series/Metamorphism of deeply buried volcanics and sediments to form the Vishnu Schist.
3. Erosion and exposure of Vishnu and Zoroaster rocks.
4. Deposition of Grand Canyon Supergroup.
5. Faulting and tilting of Grand Canyon Supergroup.
6. Erosion and development of Great Unconformity.
7. (Youngest) Deposition of the sands that formed the Tapeats Sandstone.
While YECs and geologists basically agree with the chronological order of these events, they disagree over exactly when these events occurred and for how long they occurred. For more detailed discussions on the geology of the Grand Canyon, see: Grand Canyon Explorer.
Austin (1994, p. 59) admits that the oldest rocks in the Grand Canyon include the metamorphic Vishnu Schist. Metamorphic rocks, by definition, form from the heating of igneous, sedimentary or other metamorphic rocks without melting them (Perkins, 1998, chapter 7). Austin (1994, p. 12) basically agrees with this view. Austin (1994, p. 60) even suggests that the Vishnu Schist formed from older igneous and sedimentary rocks when he states: "What the Vishnu and associated rocks in their present form were derived from remains uncertain." At the same time, Austin (1994, p. 59) and other YECs typically associate the entire origin of the Vishnu Schist to the "Creation Week". Specifically, Austin (1994, p. 60) argues that the Vishnu Schist and associated rocks formed on Day 1 and then on Day 3 the Zoroaster "Granite" was injected into the rocks. Assigning the Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster "Granite" to the "Creation Week" creates numerous scientific problems for Austin and his YEC allies. Babcock (1990) discusses the Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster pluton complex and shows that they have very complex histories. Ilg et al. (1996) is another, more recent, study that confirms the complex history of these rocks. Clearly, the complex histories of these rocks can't even fit into a 6,000 to 10,000 year YEC time frame without resorting to a lot of awkward and antiscientific miracles. However, the complex histories are entirely compatible with the geological view that the Vishnu Schist is a product of millions of years of deposition and multiple metamorphic and deformational events. YECs might argue that miraculous origins are to be expected during a "Creation Week". However, if these rocks were instantaneously zapped into existence from nothing over three 24-hour days, why do they show so much evidence for a long history of complex events? Specifically, the evidence suggests that the Vishnu Schist started out as layers of marine sediments and basaltic to andesitic lava flows and ash deposits (Babcock, 1990, p. 15). At least some of the deposits were associated with volcanic islands. Eventually, some of the volcanics weathered to form quartz-rich sands, silts and clays. The total thickness of the sediment layers and volcanics was greater than 12,200 meters (40,000 feet) (Babcock, 1990, p. 15-16). That's A LOT of eruptions and weathering!! The Vishnu Schist also shows evidence of carbonate lenses that were possibly created by algal mats. Once the sediments and volcanics were buried, they were exposed to at least two episodes of regional metamorphism. The second metamorphic episode was much hotter than the first and probably reached temperatures of 700C and pressures of 3-4 kilobars (Babcock, 1990, p. 16-17). The Vishnu Schist also shows signs of contact metamorphism from plutons that were injected into the buried sediments and volcanics (Babcock, 1990, p. 17-18). Radiometric dating indicates that the first metamorphic event occurred about 1720 to 1710 million years ago, while the second and more intense metamorphic event occurred about 1680 to 1650 million years ago (Babcock, 1990, p. 19). The deposition of the 12,200 meters of sediments and volcanics and their multiple metamorphic events can easily fit into the first 3 billion years of the Earth's 4.5 billion year old history.
If God's purpose was to make the Earth's crust on the first day, why go to all the bother of producing 12,200 meters of sediments and volcanics and then destroy them with not one, but at least two, separate metamorphic events? Why not just precipitate the crust from a simple granitic melt and get the job done as YEC Gentry (1988) ignorantly suggests? Even more to the point, why should any scientist invoke miracles to explain away the complex history of the Vishnu Schist when the geology offers a logical history without miracles? Scientists don't see miracles occurring today and they don't see any evidence for miracles in the geologic record, so why should we invoke them to explain the past when the geologic evidence presents a clear and logical history that doesn't depend on unverified supernatural events?
Let's also consider the Zoroaster Plutonic Complex, which Austin (1994, p. 60) suggests formed on the third creation day. The Zoroaster "Granite" actually consists of at least 20 different igneous lithologies, including granites, tonalites, granodiorites, and diorites, grouped into three "superunits" (Babcock, 1990, p. 19-21). With some exceptions, the plutons show increases in their alkali contents from the older to the younger units (Babcock, 1990, p. 24). If all of the Zoroaster plutons were zapped into existence on the third day, why do they show lithological differences and chemical trends? Again, why would miraculous plutons show such complex histories? Why are some of them foliated and some not? Why would geologists be able to see evidence of these events if they never occurred and if these rocks simply appeared from "nothing" on the third day? If YECs do claim that the history is real, how do they fit all of these events even into 10,000 years? When do creation "scientists" decide to invoke miracles and when not to invoke them? Not only is it clear that the oldest rocks of the Grand Canyon are incompatible with a rapid "Creation Week", they're incompatible with a young creationist Earth.
Weathering zones of up to 50 feet thick have been found on the Precambrian rocks below the Great Unconformity (Sharp, 1940; Ford and Breed, 1974, p. 32, 45; Middleton and Elliot, 1990, p. 86). The extensive weathering and massive amounts of erosion associated with the Great Unconformity are entirely consistent with paleomagnetic and other data that indicate that the unconformity represents about 230 million years of net erosion and nondeposition (from about 800 to 570 million years ago) (Elston, 1989, p. 98). However, Austin (1994, p. 57) claims that the Great Unconformity formed very rapidly during the onset of "Noah's Flood". A catastrophic origin for the unconformity, as proposed by Austin (1994, p. 57), would not have produced and preserved the subtle chemically weathered zones that are often found on the top of the Precambrian rocks. Austin (1994, p. 45) recognizes this problem for young-Earth creationism, so he tries to raise doubts over the very existence of the chemically weathering zones. Specifically, Austin (1994, p. 45-47) claims that geologists are "divided" over the existence of weathering zones associated with the Great Unconformity. Austin (1994, p. 45-47) clearly wants to create a controversy where there is none. On one side, Austin (1994, p. 45-46) admits that Sharp (1940) found sites along the contact that have extensive evidence of chemical weathering. Sharp (1940) even lists the locations of the numerous weathering zones that he found, so that anyone, including Austin, could evaluate his claims. Sharp's work is still highly respected and has been frequently cited over the years (as examples: Strahler, 1987, p. 304; Middleton and Elliott, 1990, p. 86). However, Austin (1994, p. 46) attempts to dispute Sharp's claims for the existence of the weathering zones. Instead of locating any recent geologists that might dispute Sharp's interpretations, Austin (1994, p. 46) cites an obviously outdated reference that predates Sharp's discoveries, Hinds (1935). Austin (1994, p. 46) refers to Hinds (1935, p. 14), which states that there's "little" evidence of chemical weathering along the contact. Of course, citing Hinds (1935) in no way refutes Sharp's later work. Perhaps, Hinds (1935) simply overlooked the weathering zones that Sharp (1940) found. This explanation is very plausible considering that Hinds' work is more regional and has less of an emphasis on Grand Canyon outcrops than Sharp's study. Weathering zones may be very subtle and easily overlooked. Instead of citing outdated comments in Hinds (1935), Austin needs to go to EVERY ONE of Sharp et al.'s numerous locations and find scientifically valid alternative explanations for the weathering zones that would still not refute the YEC time frame. I don't think Austin would be able to do this.
Although weathering zones are common along the contact, Sharp (1940) admits that in some areas the weathering zones are absent. For example, he (1940, p. 1240) notes that the contact at the foot of Hance Rapids is relatively "fresh" and free of paleo-weathered material. He states that the weathered material probably eroded away before the deposition of the overlying sediments of the Tapeats Sandstone. Not surprisingly, Austin (1994, p. 46, his Figure 3.22) includes a nice photograph of one of the sharp contacts that is devoid of any paleo-weathered material. Austin (1994, p. 46) refers to this sharp contact as being "typical". However, Austin (1994) does not bother to comment on or show photographs of any of the numerous locations where Sharp (1940) and others have found paleo-weathered material up to 50 feet thick.
Austin (1994, p. 46) also claims that Sharp (1940) never found evidence of "weathering zones of a residual soil" (paleosols). Paleosols, like chemical weathering, would also have taken a lot of time to develop (Meyer, 1997, p. 120) and are incompatible with a rapid YEC origin for the Great Unconformity. Austin (1994, p. 46) says that Sharp (1940) described the very granular detritus of the weathering zones as being "structureless". A review of Sharp (1940, p. 1249), however, shows that Austin's (1994, p. 46) claims are wrong. Sharp (1940, p. 1249) refers to the likely existence of intrazonal and probably some "normal" ancient soil deposits along the contact.
One of the countless problems for young-Earth creationism is how plutons can form and cool within the maximum YEC time frame of only a few thousand years. J. Sarfati cites Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) as an "answer" to this problem. While YECs Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) attempt to deal with some aspects of this issue, a careful reading of their manuscript and its references shows that they blatantly ignore many problems that refute their extreme brand of creationism.
Traditionally, plutons have been viewed as bulbous diapirs of molten rock rising through the crust. Strahler (1987, p. 213) cites probably outdated calculations from Ramberg (1963) and argues that such diapirs would take about 150,000 years to rise from their sources to the upper crust. Of course, 150,000 years is too long for Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 527), who argue that the Earth is only 6,000 to 7,000 years old. In recent years, however, geologists have been abandoning the idea of diapir emplacement of igneous rocks, especially in the upper and middle crust (Pitcher, 1997, p. 220-221). Calculations in Clemens and Mawer (1992) show that slow diapirs would solidify before they could reach the upper crust. Many geologists now believe that granitic plutons develop as blobs that resemble expanding balloons or form quite quickly from feeder dikes (Pitcher, 1997, p. 193-195, 219-221; Clemens, 1998). Not surprisingly, YECs wholeheartedly endorse feeder dikes, since these dikes may emplace fairly large granitic plutons in only a few thousand years. Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 528) even quote Pitcher (1993, p. 186), which states that the growth of granitic (silicic) plutons by dike injection along fractures may be very fast:
" ... what is particularly radical is their [Clemens and Mawer, 1992] calculation that a sizeable pluton may be filled in about 900 years. This is really speedy!"
In the 1997 edition of Pitcher's book (p. 220), however, he revises his wording and clearly expresses skepticism about the span of 900 years:
"The calculations of Clemens and Mawer, referred to at length earlier in this book, show that the times needed for a thick dyke [American spelling: dike] to fill a pluton are 'impressively brief', and since a sizeable pluton might be fed by a number of such dykes this would be an efficient method of rapidly transporting magma and building batholiths; one of Clemens and Mawer's estimates is just 900 years. This is really speedy and I choose to remain skeptical of such rapid rates of ascent of silicic magma."
Later, Pitcher (1997, p. 221) concludes that the emplacement of granitic magma by feeder dikes could occur within a few thousand years. The rapid movement of magma through kilometers of crust is not a new concept, especially if other magmas have previously passed through the crust as part of a volcanic system. For example, Hyndman (1985, p. 132) quotes Eaton (1962), which states that prior to its eruption from an Hawaiian volcano, earthquake foci were used to follow the movement of magma over TWO MONTHS through about 60 KILOMETERS of crust.
Although magmatic diapirs have been strongly criticized in recent years, Weinberg and Podladchikov (1994) have shown that magma diapirs may reach the middle or upper crust before solidification if the diapirs rise through a "thermally graded power law crust". Under such crustal conditions, diapirs would take 10,000 to 100,000 years to rise from the Moho to the upper crust. The trip from the melt zone of a subducting plate to the upper crust would take 100,000 to 1 million years under Weinberg and Podladchikov's conditions. As an alternative to both dikes and diapirs, Weinberg and Searle (1998) proposed that sheets of granitic magma SLOWLY coalesced to form the Pangong Injection Complex in India. Although the emplacement of granites by dikes is currently popular among both scientists and YECs (Clemens, 1998; Snelling and Woodmorappe, 1998), it is doubtful that dikes will explain the emplacement of every granitic rock (for example, Weinberg and Searle, 1998). However, YECs will never accept the current alternatives to dike emplacement (as examples, Weinberg and Searle, 1998 and Weinberg and Podladchikov, 1994) because they are not fast enough for their YEC time frames.
Although Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) have shown that the ascent of magma could occur in less than 10,000 years, magma emplacement only represents part of the formation of a pluton. Magmas must also form from the melting of parent rocks and finally they must cool. For example, Clemens (1998, p. 848) notes that a 1 km long dike that is 3 meters wide could supply a growing pluton with 1000 km3 of magma in about 1,200 years. However, solidification of the pluton would take at least 25 times longer (30,000 years). Pitcher (1997, p. 222) and others still maintain that the entire process of pluton development would typically take 5-10 million years. These values are not only supported by various melting, conductivity/convection and cooling models, but also by radiometric dating (Pitcher, 1997, chapter 12).
Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) cite many references that indicate that small plutons can cool within the time demands of young-Earth creationism, but they often ignore or even cover up other information in these references that they don't like. For example, Strahler (1987, p. 213), Pitcher (1993, p. 182; 1997, p. 215-216), and Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 531) all cite Spera's magma cooling model (Spera, 1980). (It should be stated that both Pitcher (1993, 1997) and Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) erroneously refer to Spera's paper as having been written in 1982). Spera (1980, p. 301) indicates that a pluton with a radius of 5 km and a water content of 0.5 wt% would cool in 330,000 years, while 4 wt% water would reduce the cooling time to only about 50,000 years. Strahler (1987, p. 213) refers to the 50,000 years, but not surprisingly, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) never mention the dates associated with the cooling time calculations in Spera (1980), since even the reduced ages still exceed the allotted YEC age for the Earth. Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) even perform calculations to avoid mentioning the long cooling times in Spera (1980). Specifically, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 531) mention an example from Spera (1980, p. 300), which involves a 10 km wide pluton at 7 km depth and with 2 wt% water. Spera (1980, p. 300) states that the cooling time for the pluton would decrease from 3,600,000 years to 200,000 years if a contact temperature of 500C was used instead of 700C. (The contact temperature refers to the temperature at the contact between the pluton and the rocks surrounding the pluton.) To avoid mentioning the long ages, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 531) do some math and simply indicate that there is an 18-fold decrease in the cooling time in this example.
Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) also cite modeling data out of Hayba and Ingebritsen (1997) to argue that a hypothetical 2 x 1 km pluton at 2 km depth and with a permeability of 33 millidarcies (md) would cool in only about 3,500 years. However, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) largely ignore the numerous examples in Hayba and Ingebritsen (1997) of larger and/or less permeable plutons that would take 10,000 to 25,000 years or even longer to cool below 150C. Hayba and Ingebritsen (1997, p. 12,238) also conclude that, depending upon permeability, a hydrothermal system around a single 2 x 1 km cooling pluton could remain active over approximately 30,000 to less than 10,000 years. Because even larger plutons in the Canadian Precambrian shield and northern Appalachians, as examples, are geologically dead, it's not surprising that Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) ignore comments in Hayba and Ingebritsen (1997) about cooling plutons and hydrothermal systems that would easily exceed YEC time limits. While small plutons may form, emplace and cool within Snelling and Woodmorappe's YEC time demands, the geologic record is full of large and cold plutons that obviously could not have formed and cooled in only a few thousand years. As examples, Paterson and Tobisch (1992, p. 293) list the cooling times of a number of large plutons, including the Quottoon Batholith of British Columbia (700 to 450C) (2 million years), the Separation Point Batholith of New Zealand (700 to 450C) (2 million years), and the Sierra Nevada Batholith of California (more than 10 million years).
Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 538-539) cite a number of references (as examples: Brandeis and Jaupart, 1987; Dunbar et a1., 1995; Swanson, 1977; Swanson and Fenn, 1986; London, 1992; Chakoumakos and Lumpkin, 1990) and conclude that crystals in either gabbroic or granitic plutons could easily grow to their observed sizes within a few thousand years. The typical cooling rates in Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 539) and their references are between 10 to the -6 to 10 to the -10 cm/sec. However, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) may be overly optimistic about fast crystallization rates. Other references do not support their claims. As examples, Paterson and Tobisch (1992) and Cashman (1990) reviewed in some detail the literature for field and experimental data on crystal growth rates. After reviewing all of the data, including some of the same references used by Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998), Cashman (1990, p. 302) concluded that the growth rates for most plagioclase and olivine crystals are only 10 to the -10 to 10 to the -11 cm/sec. Paterson and Tobisch (1992, p. 294) admit that by using typical values in Cashman (1990), a large 10 cm crystal could grow in about 33,000 years. However, Paterson and Tobisch (1992, p. 294) state that 33,000 years may be too fast, since parts of the growing crystals could resorb into the magma or the growth rates may vary over time. Paterson and Tobisch (1992, p. 294) conclude that all pluton crystals could grow to their observed sizes within a few 100,000's years. Of course, this time span is too long for young-Earth creationism.
In yet another example of selective quoting, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 531) cite Marsh (1989, p. 523-524) and note that a hypothetical magma ocean about 10 kilometers thick could solidify in only 10,000 years. However, Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998) don't mention that Marsh (1989, p. 523-524) also states that if the crust forming on top of the magma ocean is fairly stable, the cooling time would be about 500,000 years rather than only 10,000 years.
In summary, the data indicate that at least some granitic plutons may be emplaced in only a few thousand years by dikes. Geologists accept the possibility of fast emplacement by dikes because it's based on good data. Modern uniformitarianism (actualism) must accept any scientifically valid evidence, whether it supports rapid events and natural catastrophes or slow processes and old events. That is, it's very possible that many plutons have moved through the crust in only a few thousand years or even much faster. However, this does not mean that the Earth is only a few thousand years old.
While geologists can accept rapid natural events, the religious dogma of the YECs prevent them from accepting any scientific data that support slower events on an ancient Earth. The problem becomes even worse for YECs when they consider the origin of Precambrian granites. YECs, like Gentry (1988, p. 133, 184-185), have traditionally viewed Precambrian granites as forming during the six days of the "Creation Week" and in particular on the first and third days. Instead of worrying about how plutons could form in only a few hours to days during the "Creation Week," YECs simply rely on the countless miracles that supposedly occurred during this week. Snelling and Woodmorappe (1998, p. 530) also join with other YECs and claim that some igneous lithologies had supernatural origins during the "Creation Week". Not only is this miracle-filled "Creation Week" unnecessary, dogmatic and anti-scientific, it's utterly hypocritical. Precambrian granites have much the same mineralogies, textures and structures as Cretaceous and other Phanerozoic granites, yet YEC dogma arbitrarily insists that Precambrian granites had a miraculous origin within a few days or less while Phanerozoic granites supposedly formed naturally over a maximum of a few thousand years.
WEATHERING AND EROSION
J. Sarfati reminds us that water can quickly break and erode concrete dams. So, he asks: why does the erosion of granitic rocks require long periods of time as Mark Isaak claims?
It is certainly possible that catastrophic local floods could erode rocks very quickly. However, erosion is not usually that fast and many silicate rocks are a lot harder than concrete and cement. Furthermore, the presence of well developed Precambrian and Phanerozoic weathering profiles or ancient soils (paleosols) utterly refute young-Earth creationism. Ancient soils with good horizons could not have formed during a "Flood" and often not even in 10,000 years. As examples, Meyer (1997, p. 120) lists several paleosols and other soil phenomena that would exceed YEC time frames. Specifically, a one meter alterite in India is estimated to have taken 55,000 years to develop. Silcrete takes 100,000 to 1 million years to form. An iron-rich bauxite in Hawaii formed over a period of 10,000 years. A complex iron-rich duricrust in Senegal took 6 million years to form. A one-meter thick calcrete with good drainage typically takes about 1 million years to develop. In another example, Retallack (1986) describes a Precambrian paleosol in a complex series of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks and basalts. Retallack (1986) estimated that this one soil, alone, took 7,000 years to form.
J. Sarfati extensively quotes YEC John Baumgardner. Baumgardner has developed and used a computer model to "demonstrate" that the Earth's tectonic plates could have rapidly moved during "Noahs Flood" and that long periods of time are supposedly not necessary to explain plate tectonics.
Baumgardner's claims are disputed at Creationist Geologic Time Scale: an attack strategy for the sciences. Baumgardner has been accused of putting unrealistic values into his model to support his "Flood results". That is, his critics charge that his work is a case of garbage data in, garbage "Noah's Flood" results out.
One of Baumgardner's many claims states that "runaway" tectonic subduction during the "Flood" would have boiled away much of the world's oceans. The resulting steam supposedly quickly condensed to form rainwater for the "Flood". Obviously, without miracles, such boiling conditions would have fried Noah and his companions. Furthermore, such rapid tectonic activity would have been too hot to form blueschists and other low-temperature rocks that may be found in old subduction zones. Blueschists are low-temperature, high-pressure metamorphic rocks that SLOWLY form in deep (about 8-14 kilobars or roughly 25 to 50 km deep, Hyndman, 1985, p. 15), but still relatively cool (about 150 to 450C) conditions (Perkins, 1998, p.141, 148; Hyndman, 1985, p. 537, 609-616). The mineralogy of blueschists is unique and will not form under hot or low pressure conditions.
MOUNTAIN UPLIFT VS DENUDATION
Baumgardner, as quoted by J. Sarfati, claims that high mountain ranges, like the Himalayas, present problems for "uniformitarians" (geologists). He claims that the current uplift rate for the Himalayas is 1-2 cm/year. He then scoffs at the idea that these mountains could be very old, since using the current rates, the Himalayas would have risen 10-20 km (33,000 to 66,000 feet) every one million years. So, from Baumgardner's point of view, the Himalayas are too low to be ten's of millions of years old. Of course, Baumgardner is forgetting about erosion/denudation and constructing an unjustified strawperson argument based on Lyell uniformitarianism. That is, if the Himalayas are currently rising at a rate of 1-2 cm/year that doesn't mean that they were in the past.
Current evidence indicates that the Himalayas began to uplift about 50 million years ago when the Indian plate began to collide with the Eurasian plate, see Past and Future Richter M > 8 Earthquakes in the Himalaya This site says that the Indian plate has a current northward movement of about 2 cm/year." Now, Ritter et al. (1995, p. 182) reminds us that as mountains rise and steep slopes develop, erosion/denudation rates increase. In turn, as the relief of mountains, like the Appalachians, become lower through erosion/denudation, the erosion/denudation rates decrease. The denudation rate for the northwestern Himalayas is about 2-9 mm/year (Fielding et al., 1995). This is not much different than the uplift rates. The uplift rates and denudation/erosion rates for the Himalayas currently may be near steady state, which is not entirely unexpected (Summerfield, 1991, p. 398-400). Considering the competing processes of uplift and erosion/denudation, Baumgardner really has no basis to attack the claim that the Himalayas are tens of millions of years old.
WHAT DEPOSITS ARE "POST-FLOOD"?
One of the major goals of young-Earth creationism is to "identify" which rocks and sediments originated from the "Flood" and which are "post-Flood". J. Sarfati quotes John Baumgardner, who now claims that the Pliocene deposits generally represent the end of the "Flood". However, when Baumgardner co-authored a paper with Austin et al. (1994, p. 614), he and his co-authors tentatively claimed that the Cretaceous generally represents the end of the "Flood" deposits. Because of the impressive evidence for Late Paleozoic glaciations, Northrup (1983, p. 71) goes even further and claims that the deposits of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras are generally "post-Flood."
Whether the YECs believe that the "Flood" ended during the Permian, Paleocene, or Pliocene, young-Earth creationism is still defeated. If YECs claim that the Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks are "post-Flood" than they have to explain how all of that sediment got deposited in only a few thousand years after the "Flood." If they claim that the "Flood sediments" are Pliocene, as John Baumgardner has most recently claimed, then they have to deal with even more glacial, desert and other non-marine deposits scattered throughout the geologic record.
The inability of YECs to agree on where to place the "Flood/post-Flood" contact in the geologic record closely resembles what Cuvier experienced over 200 years ago. When faced with the same problem of where to put the "contact" among the alternating layers of non-marine and marine rocks, Cuvier simply committed a bit of heresy and concluded that there had been six worldwide "floods" over geologic time and that the last one represented "Noah's Flood" (Mintz, 1977, p. 7).
ORIGIN OF SALT DEPOSITS
Another great problem for YECs is how enormous amounts of water-soluble salts (evaporites) could form in the geologic record during a "Flood". Chemistry dictates that the salts would have been dissolved and dispersed in any "Flood" waters rather than precipitated. A number of YECs have attempted to explain the origins of evaporites (for example, Nutting, 1984), but have failed miserably to account for these deposits in a short and wet YEC time frame (Henke, 1990). While Nutting (1984) and other YECs have tried to invoke a magmatic or subsurface hydrothermal origin for evaporites, J. Sarfati quotes John Baumgardner, who advocates precipitating them from boiling seawater. Again, Baumgardner believes that a significant amount of the world's oceans violently boiled and evaporated into the atmosphere during the "Flood". Supposedly, this event produced brines that precipitated the evaporites. However, Baumgardner admits that the steam from the boiling oceans would have quickly returned as rains during the "Flood". The real problem for YECs is getting all of that salt quickly distributed through the "Flood" deposits without dissolving them. This is not easy. Some salt deposits are very thick and pure. How were these thick deposits "stuffed" into a sediment column without contaminating them with silicate-rich muds or dissolving them with "Flood water"? In addition, some evaporites, such as the Castile Formation of west Texas, contain salt varves that can be laterally traced for more than 90 kilometers (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 553). As discussed in Wonderly (1987, p. 74-77), these delicate varves show no evidence of a volcanic, hydrothermal, or violent origin. They are completely incompatible with young-Earth creationism and "Flood geology". Also, see The Fish is Being Served with a Delicate Creamy Mercury Sauce.
A review of the origin of the salt deposits of the Michigan Basin shows that their formation is incompatible with magmatic sources or hydrothermal precipitation as advocated by Nutting (1984) or Baumgardner's deadly boiling seas. The rocks contain no evidence of nearby volcanos or other igneous or metamorphic sources (Young, 1982, p. 86). When the Silurian paleogeography of the Michigan Basin is restored, thick semi-concentric barriers of coral reefs become very noticeable (Schreiber, 1988, p. 238-239). As evaporites formed in the Michigan Basin, massive reefs existed just to the east of Lower Michigan in Ontario, along the Ohio-Indiana border, along the Michigan-Indiana border and curving through what is now Lake Michigan and north into Upper Michigan. These reefs would have been ideal barriers to trap evaporating seawater in the Michigan Basin. Periodically, fresh seawater could have broken through or flowed over the barriers to recharge the brines.
Open marine carbonates are located at the bottom of the Silurian sequence of the Michigan Basin (Schreiber, 1988, p. 238-240). Above them are evaporites. The lower portion of the evaporites indicates relatively deep water, but the upper portion formed in shallow water (Schreiber, 1988, p. 240). Many of the reefs in the basin have karst features and weathering zones, which indicate that the reefs were periodically above water (Schreiber, 1988, p. 238-240; Warren, 1989, p. 162). While subaerial reefs could have been effective in trapping evaporite-producing brines, such features would not be expected to form during the middle of "Noah's Flood."
Overlying the evaporites are more carbonates that formed when fresh seawater entered the basin. Above these carbonates, are more layers of evaporites that were slowly produced by evaporating brines that were again trapped in the basin by the reefs. Next, another layer of carbonates formed as seawater once more entered the basin. Finally, more than 610 meters (2,000 feet) of very shallow water evaporites filled the basin (Schreiber, 1988, p. 238-240). Again, these features are entirely compatible with slow evaporation and periodic influxes of seawater over long periods of time. However, they are incompatible with a rapidly raging young-Earth creationist "Flood."
Overall, J. Sarfati's article is full of outdated and erroneous claims that could be easily corrected if he would just read some undergraduate geology textbooks.
I greatly appreciate Frank Lovell and the late Bob Schadewald for furnishing manuscripts and information. Bob was a great, helpful and kind man. I also thank Mark Isaak and others for helpful comments. As always, thanks to John Stear and others for posting this essay.
Andersen, B.G. and H. W. Borns, Jr., 1994, The Ice Age World, Scandinavian University Press, Oslo.
Austin, S. A. (ed.), 1994, Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, Institute for Creation Research, Santee, CA, 92071.
Austin, S.A.; J.R. Baumgardner; D.R. Humphreys; A.A. Snelling; L. Vardiman; and K.P. Wise, 1994, Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference of Creationism, Technical Symposium Sessions.
Babcock, R.S., 1990, Precambrian Crystalline Core, chapter 2 in S. Beus and M. Morales, (eds.), Grand Canyon Geology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 11-28.
Bailey, E.B. and J. Weir, 1932, Submarine Faulting in Kimmeridgian Times, East Sutherland, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, v. 57, p. 429-454.
Ball, M.M.; E.A. Shinn and K.W. Stockman, 1967, The Geologic Effects of Hurricane Donna in South Florida, Journal of Geology, v. 75, p. 583-597.
Berthault, G., 1986, Experiments on Lamination of Sediments, Resulting from a Periodic Graded-bedding Subsequent to Deposition A Contribution to the Explanation of Lamination of Various Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks, Compte Rendus Académie des Sciences, Paris, v. 303 (Série II, no. 17), p.15691574.
Berthault, G., 1988a, Sedimentation of a Heterogranular Mixture: Experimental Lamination in Still and Running Water, Compte Rendus Académie des Sciences, Paris, v. 306 (Série II) p. 717724.
Berthault, G., 1988b, Experiments on Lamination of Sediments, Ex Nihilo Tech. J., v. 3 p. 2529.
Berthault, G., 1990, Sedimentation of a Heterogranular Mixture: Experimental Lamination in Still and Running Water, Ex Nihilo Tech. J., v. 4, p. 95102.
Blatt, H.; G. Middleton and R. Murray, 1980, Origin of Sedimentary Rocks, 2nd edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
Bouma, A.H, 1962, "Sedimentology of some Flysch Deposits: A Graphic Approach to Facies Interpretation," Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Brandeis, G. and C. Jaupart, 1987, The Kinetics of Nucleation and Crystal Growth and Scaling Laws for Magmatic Crystallization, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, v. 96, p. 24-34.
Buchheim, H.P. and R. Biaggi, 1988, Laminae Counts within a Synchronous Oil Shale Unit: A Challenge to the Varve Concept, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 20, p. A317.
Caputo, M.V., 1985, Late Devonian Glaciation in South America, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 51, p. 291-317.
Carey, S.N., 1991, "Transport and Deposition of Tephra by Pyroclastic Flows and Surges," in "Sedimentation in Volcanic Settings," R.V. Fisher and G.A. Smith (eds), Society for Sedimentary Geology, B.H. Lidz, Editor of Special Publications, Special Publication No. 45, Tulsa, OK, p. 39-57.
Cashman, K.V.,1990, Textural Constraints of the Kinetics of Crystallization of Igneous Rocks, chapter 10, Reviews in Mineralogy, v. 24, p. 259-314.
Chakowmaks, B.C. and G.R. Lumpkin, 1990, Pressure-Temperature Constraints on the Crystallization of the Harding Pegmatite, Taos County, New Mexico, Canadian Mineralogist, v. 28, p. 287-298.
Clemens, J.D., 1998, Observations on the Origins and Ascent Mechanisms of Granitic Magmas, Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 155, p. 843-851.
Clemens, J.D. and C.K. Mawer, 1992, Granitic Magma Transport by Fracture Propagation, Tectonophysics, v. 204, p. 339-360.
Drever, J.I., 1997, The Geochemistry of Natural Waters, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.
Druitt, T.H., 1989, Emplacement of the May 18, 1980, Lateral Blast Northeast of Mount St. Helens, Washington, New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Bulletin, v. 131, p. 75.
Dunbar, N.W.; G.K. Jacobs and M.T. Naney, 1995, Crystallization Processes in an Artificial Magma: Variations in Crystal Shape, Growth Rate and Composition with Melt Cooling History, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, v. 120, p. 412-425.
Eaton, J.P., 1962, Crustal Structure and Volcanism in Hawaii, in G.A. MacDonald and H. Kuno (eds.), The Crust of the Pacific Basin, Geophys. Monograph, American Geophys. Union, v. 6, p. 13-29.
Elston, D.P., 1989, Middle and Late Proterozoic Grand Canyon Supergroup, Arizona, in chapter 9, D.P. Elston, G.H. Billingsley, and R.A. Young, Geology of Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona (with Colorado River Guides), American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, p. 94-105.
Fielding, E.J.; D.W. Burbank; J. Leland; C.C. Duncan and B.L. Isacks, 1995, "Geomorphic Responses to Rapid Denudation Rates in the NW Himalaya and Karakoram," 10th Himalaya-Karakoram-Tibet Workshop, Ascona, Switzerland, April 4-8.
Fischer, A.G. and L.T. Roberts, Cyclicity in the Green River Formation (Lacustrine Eocene) of Wyoming," Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, vol. 61, no. 7, Dec. 1991, p. 1146-1154.
Fisher, R.V. and Schmincke, H.-U., 1984, "Pyroclastic Rocks," Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Fisher, R.V.; H. Glicken and R. Hoblitt, 1987, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Deposits in South Coldwater Creek, Washington, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 92, p. 10,267-10,283.
Ford, T.D. and W. J. Breed, 1974, The Younger Precambrian, in chapter 2, W.J. Breed and E.C. Roat, Geology of the Grand Canyon, Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Natural History Association, Northern Arizona Society of Science and Art, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ.
Gentry, R.V.,1988, Creations Tiny Mystery, Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, TN.
Hambrey, M.J., 1985, The Late Ordovician-Early Silurian Glacial Period, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 51, p. 273-289.
Hayba, D.O. and S.E. Ingebritsen, 1997, Multiphase Groundwater Flow near Cooling Plutons, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 102, p. 12,235-12,252.
Henke, Kevin R., 1990, The Origin of Theses: A Look at the Quality of Two Theses from the Institute of Creation Research Graduate School, National Center for Science Education, Berkeley, CA 94709-0477.
Hinds, N.E.A., 1935, Ep-Archean and Ep-Algonkian Intervals in Western North America, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 463, v. 1, 52p.
Hoblitt, R.P.,1986, Observations of the Eruption of July 22 and August 7, 1980, at Mount St. Helens, Washington, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1335, 44p.
Hoblitt, R.P. and C. D. Miller, 1984, Comments and Reply on Mount St. Helens 1980 and Mount Pelee 1902 - Flow or Surge?, Geology, Nov., p. 692-693.
Hyndman, D.W., 1985, Petrology of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., New York.
Ilg, B.R.; K.E. Karlstrom; D.P. Hawkins and M.L. Williams, 1996, Tectonic Evolution of Paleoproterozoic Rocks in the Grand Canyon: Insights into Middle-crustal Processes, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 108, n. 9, p. 1149-1166.
Keiffer, S.W., 1981, Fluid Dynamics of the May 18 Blast at Mount St. Helens, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1250, p. 379-400.
Krauskopf, K.B., 1979, "Introduction to Geochemistry, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York.
Krauskopf, K.B. and D.K. Bird, 1995, "Introduction to Geochemistry," 3rd ed., McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York.
Kuenen, P.H., 1966, Experimental Turbidite Lamination in a Circular Flume, Journal of Geology, v. 74, p. 523-545.
Lambert, A. and K. Hsu, 1979, Non-Annual Cycles of Varve-like Sedimentation in Walensee, Switzerland, Sedimentology, v. 26, p. 453-461.
London, D., 1992, The Application of Experimental Petrology to the Genesis and Crystallization of Granitic Pegmatites, Canadian Mineralogist, v. 30, p. 499-540.
Makse, H.A.; S. Havlin; P.R. King and H.E. Stanley, 1997, Spontaneous Stratification in Granular Mixtures, Nature, v. 386, p. 379-382.
Marsh, B.D.,1989, Convective Style and Vigour in Magma Chambers, Journal of Petrology, v. 30, n. 3, p. 479-530.
Meyer, R., 1997, Paleoalterites and Paleosols: Imprints of Terrestrial Processes in Sedimentary Rocks, A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.
Miall, A.D., 1990, "Principles of Sedimentary Basin Analysis," 2nd ed., Springer-Verlag, New York.
Middleton, L.T., and D.K. Elliot, 1990, Tonto Group, chapter 6 in S. Beus and M. Morales, (eds.), Grand Canyon Geology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 83-106.
Mintz, L.W., 1977, "Historical Geology: The Science of a Dynamic Earth," Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co., Columbus, OH.
Moore, J.G. and T.W. Sisson, 1981, Deposits and Effects of the May 18 Pyroclastic Surge, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1250, p. 421-438.
Morris, H.M., 1978, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego, CA.
North, F.K., 1990, "Petroleum Geology," Unwin Hyman, Boston.
Northrup, Bernard, 1983, "My Catastrophe Series Harmonization Model," in Science at the Crossroads: Observation or Speculation?, papers of the 1983 National Creation Conference, Bible-Science Association and Twin Cities Creation-Science Association, Minneapolis, MN.
Nutting, David Irwin, 1984, Origin of Bedded Salt Deposits: A Critique of Evaporative Models and Defense of a Hydrothermal Model, Institute for Creation Research "Graduate School, M.S. Thesis."
Oard, M.J., 1997, "Ancient Ice Ages or Gigantic Submarine Landsides?" Creation Research Society, Monograph No. 5, Chino Valley, AZ.
Paterson, S.R. and O.T. Tibisch, 1992, Rates of Processes in Magmatic Arcs: Implications for the Timing and Nature of Pluton Emplacement and Wall Rock Deformation, Journal of Structural Geology, v. 14, p. 291-300.
Perkins, D., 1998, Mineralogy, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.
Pitcher, W.S., 1993, The Nature and Origin of Granite, Blackie Academic & Professional, London.
Pitcher, W.S., 1997, The Nature and Origin of Granite, 2nd ed., Chapman & Hall, London.
Press, F. and R. Siever, 2001, "Understanding Earth," W.H. Freeman and Company, New York.
Ramberg, H.,1963, Experimental Study of Gravity Tectonics by Means of Centrifugal Models, Bulletin Geological Institute, University of Uppsala, v. 62, p. 1-97.
Retallack, G., 1986, Reappraisal of a 2200 Ma-Old Paleosol near Waterval Onder, South Africa, Precambrian Research, v. 32, p. 195-232.
Ripepe, M; L.T. Roberts; and A.G. Fischer "ENSO and Sunspot Cycles in Varved Eocene Oil Shales from Image Analysis," Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, vol. 61, no. 7, Dec. 1991, p. 1155-1163.
Ritter, D.F., R.C. Kochel, and J.R. Miller, 1995, Process Geomorphology, 3rd ed., Wm. C. Brown, Dubuque, IA.
Rye, R. and H.D. Holland, 1998, Paleosols and the Evolution of Atmospheric Oxygen: A Critical Review, American Journal of Science, v. 298, October, p. 621-672.
Schmincke, H.-U., R.V. Fisher, and A.C. Waters, 1973, "Antidune and Chute and Pool Structures in the Base Surge Deposits of the Laacher See Area, Germany," Sedimentology, v. 20, p. 553-574.
Schreiber, B.C., 1988, Subaqueous Evaporite Deposition, chapter 4 in B. C. Schreiber (ed.), Evaporites and Hydrocarbons, Columbia University Press, New York.
Sharp, R.P., 1940, Ep-Archean and Ep-Algonkian Erosion Surfaces, Grand Canyon, Arizona, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 51, p. 1235-1270.
Snelling, A.A. and J. Woodmorappe, 1998, The Cooling of Thick Igneous Bodies on a Young Earth, Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism, Aug. 3-8, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Technical Symposium Sessions, R. E. Walsh (ed.), Creation Science Fellowship, Inc., 705 Washington Dr., Pittsburgh, PA, USA 15229
Spera, F., 1980, Thermal Evolution of Plutons: A Parameterized Approach, Science, v. 207, p. 299-301.
Strahler, A.N., 1987, Science and Earth History, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY.
Summerfield, M.A., 1991, Global Geomorphology: An Introduction to the Study of Landforms, Longman Scientific & Technical, New York.
Swanson, S.E., 1977, Relation of Nucleation and Crystal-Growth Rate to the Development of Granitic Textures, American Mineralogist, v. 62, p. 966-978.
Swanson, S.E. and P.M. Fenn, 1986, Quartz Crystallization in Igneous Rocks, American Mineralogist, v. 71, p. 331-342.
Van Andel, T. H., 1994, New Views on an Old Planet: A History of Global Change, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Waitt Jr., R. B.,1984, Comments and Reply on Mount St. Helens 1980 and Mount Pelee 1902 - Flow or Surge?, Geology, Nov., p. 693.
Walker, G.P.L. and L.A. McBroome, 1983, Mount St. Helens 1980 and Mount Pelee 1902 - Flow or Surge?, Geology, v. 11, p. 571-574.
Walker, G.P.L. and L.A. Morgan (McBroome), 1984,Comments and Reply on Mount St. Helens 1980 and Mount Pelee 1902 - Flow or Surge?, Geology, Nov., p. 693-695.
Warren, J.K., 1989, Evaporite Sedimentology: Importance in Hydrocarbon Accumulation, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
Weinberg, R.F. and Y. Podladchikov, 1994, Diapiric Ascent of Magmas through Power Law Crust and Mantle, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 99, p. 9543-9559.
Weinberg, R.F. and M.P. Searle, 1998, The Pangong Injection Complex, Indian Karakoram: A Case of Pervasive Granite Flow through Hot Viscous Crust, Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 155, p. 883-891.
Williams, G.E., 1986, Precambrian Permafrost Horizons as Indicators of Palaeoclimate, Precambrian Research, v. 32, p. 233-242.
Williams, G.E., 1989, Late Precambrian Tidal Rhythmites in South Australia and the History of the Earths Rotation, Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 146, p. 97-111.
Wonderly, D.E., 1987, Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, Hatfield, PA 19440.
Woodmorappe, J., 1996, Noahs Ark: A Feasibility Study, Institute for Creation Research, Santee, CA.
Young, D.A., 1982, Christianity and the Age of the Earth, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.