Science in Christian Perspective



Wayne V. Ault, Ph.D.

From JASA 10 (December 1958): 21-23.

The Geology Column this issue finds me relocated in Hawaii-the Orchid Isle. Perhaps a word of explanation is in order. Geo-scientists are aware of the increased emphasis on volcanic research in recent years. The U. S. Geological Survey has expanded its facilities at the Volcano Observatory located at Kilauea Crater to include geochemical studies of volcanic materials in addition to the geophysics (seismology and tilt measurements) and geology (petrology and mineralogy) which have previously been the dominant emphasis. This md-ocean location for study has a numher of advantages. The Hawaiian Islands are surface expressions of the long chain of sea-mounts located along one of the major rift structures of the earth, extending for over 1500 miles across the Pacific in a w.n.w.-e.s.e. direction. Only a few of these seamounts are tall enough to be islands and mountains, the highest peak being Mauna Kea, which stands 13,784 feet above sea level. This plus the three-mile ocean depth places them among the tallest mountains (above their base) of the world. The land forming processes of volcanism have evidently progressed toward the s.e. where the Island of Hawaii has the only volcanoes along this chain which have been active in recent years. The oceanic basaltic province is a unique setting where the rock types are a minimum and where the earth's crust is only about five kilometers (three miles) thick. In historic time the eruptions, which occur on the average of every few years, have seldom been explosive and the fluid lava has been approachable for study.

The mountainous character of the islands in the trade winds belt results in a whole spectrum of climate and vegetation. Mountain tops have their snow in winter while at sea level one is in the tropics. Climatic zone descriptions of the Galapagos Islands (Life, September 8, 1958) could just as appropriately be applied to Hawaii. On the leeward side of the mountains and conditions with its cactus and barren lava rock may extend from the coast up the mountains. In other areas the tropical sea level conditions 6ve way to the rain forests (from roughly 2.000 to 4,000 feet elevation) which are thus named because it rains or mists much of the time. There are a number of varieties of orchids and ferns. The Amaumau fern (Sadleria sp.) may grow to a height of 9 feet. Tree ferns (Cibothim sp.) may attain a height of 40 feet. The trunk of the tree fern is a perfect host of the orchid and is 'harvested for the growing of domestic orchids. Ohia trees (Metrosideros collina) with their bright scarlet nompom flowers are the native trees of the islands which predominantly make up the lichen covered forests. The forests are nearly impenetrable and also dangerous because of the gaping cracks which may be hidden from view and may be 50 feet deep. In the "cultivated" areas coffee trees seem to be growing right out of the rough lava rock topography and sugar cane is grown on land where there is barely enough ash cover to facilitate planting. This is only possible because it frequently rains in Hawaii. (National Geographic Magazine, November 1949).

On our trip across the United States we had the opportunity of seeing a number of our National Parks. Many of these have preserved the grand and awesome works of nature and especially excellent illustrations of geological processes and resulting landforms. The vivid education in geology obtained may be the only geology many people get. There is a phenomenal increase in the number of visitors who annually tour the National Parks and this is attributed by various writers to the better explanation or interpretation of the sights they behold there. Some of the most vivid geologic displays including relief maps and models are found in the museums and visitor's centers of our National Parks.

Everyone who visits Washington, D. C., and is interested in geology should know that there is an excellent museum in the U. S. Department of the Interior Building. One of the displays is a very graphic representation of geologic time and the fossil record.

Dinosaur National Park in the Uinta Mountains of Utah features an ultramodern museum built on a hillslope against the dip of the Morrison Shale and shows a fossil dinosaur skeleton in process of being excavated (featured in Geotimes, July-August, 1958). The Utah Field House of Natural History in nearby Vernal, Utah has a reconstruction showing evidence of eight different fossil forests in the formations of the Uinta Mountain and Basin Area of n.e. Utah covering a time span from the Carboniferous to the Tertiary. This rates with the well known sequence of eighteen fossil forests interlayed with volcanics in a 2000ft. section of Amethyst Cliffts in Yellowstone National Park (Schucert and Dunbar, Outlines of Historical Geology, 4th Edition, 1941). These are unmistakable evidences of long periods of time of which the Christian public should be made aware.

One experiences a thrill in standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and with the aid of field glasses looking as it were back through the pages of natural history into distant geologic time. From such a point one is able to see the tremendous geologic section which God has opened to our view by the incision of the Colorado River. The span of geologic time represented is from the Vishnu schist intruded by pegmatites an granites ate y rad oactivity as at least 1. 1 billion years old to the Kaibab limestone forming the North Rim (Permian) to the formations of the Paint ed Desert (Triassic) and even to the volcanics of the San Francisco Mountains near Flagstaff, Arizona, which are Tertiary in age.

Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite excel in the variety of features-cirques, moraines, Ushaped valleys, etc.-which are products of glacier activity. The evidence for reconstructing the geologic history is clearly presented.

One planning to travel to any of the above mentioned areas can review what is known of the geology of the area in such publications as the Professional Papers and Folios of the U.S.G.S. which are available at nearly any geology library. But even better, the information in these technical publications has in numerous cases found its way into popular editions with excellent photographs; and these are reasonably priced. Such are the books Sequoia National Park - a Geological Album and 1-he Incomparable Valley - a Geologic Interpretation of the Yosemite by no less an authority than the late F. E. Matthes (F. Fryxell, Ed.); and Story of the Grand Canyon - How it was Made by N. H. Darton.

Our National Parks, preserving and making intelligible some of the spectacular wonders of God's nature is part of our great heritage to be used, enjoyed, cherished and protected. It should give us all an increased appreciation for geology. A stepped-up cooperative interpretation program between the National Park Service and the Geological Survey is in process and will facilitate much more geologic information to get from the scientific publications to the public.

There may be some who would appreciate knowing that there is an ever increasing coverage of the geologic, topographic and relief maps available at very reasonable prices. A post card addressed to Map Service, U.S.G.S., Washington 25, D.C. will obtain a publication showing what is available. Also from the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. a booklet listing "Camping Facilities in the National Park System" can be had for 15 cents.

The U. S. Geological Survey has recently released a very spectacular 16 mm. color, sound movie on the 1955 eruption which occurred along a rift of the Kilauea Volcano. It shows rock geysers 800 feet high and rivers of molten rock flowing about 35 mph toward the ocean. Interested groups may request it from the U.S.G.S. at Washington 25, D.C.; Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado, or 4 Homewood Place, Menlo Park, California.

Articles on a theory of the cause of the ice ages have appeared in Harper's Magazine (September 1958) and the Reader's Digest (November 1958) and are summaries of those published in Science (123, p 1061-1066, 1956; 121, p 1159-1162, 1958.)

In this issue of the journal we will begin introducing some of the ASA members who are earth scientists. (We may have to find a more inclusive term if and when some are able to extend their studies to the moon and other planets.) A large percentage responded but there are a f ew from whom I have not heard. If there are any geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, meteorologists, etc., who did not receive a questionnaire please pardon the oversight and write me, Hawaii National Park, T. H. May I also encourage you to make this your column and share with others your interests.

Harley Barnes has recently transferred to the Denver Federal Center, Bldg. 25, Denver, Colorado. He is a geologist with the U, S. Geological Survey. Harley obtained his B.S. from Wheaton College in 1937; M.S. from Northwestern University in 1939; and Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1954. He is a member of the Geological Society of America, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Geological Society of Washington, the Wyoming Geological Association, and became a member of ASA in 1947. He is currently engaged in geologic field mapping to determine the Pre-Cambrian structure in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming. Previously he has had experience in mining with the N. J. Zinc Co., in Colorado. His field work for the U.S.G.S. and the Philippine Bureau of Mines took him to the Philippines for a number of years. He is joint author of papers on geology and fuel resources in Colorado and of geology and coal resources in the Philippines. Dr. Barnes is getting located in a new church home in Denver and would enjoy the fellowship of other ASA members in that area. He continues his interest in International Students Incorporated-one of the most worthy home missionary groups which seeks to befriend and win for Christ those visiting foreign students who are studying in our colleges and universities.

Ivan W. Brunk is a meteorologist with the U. S. Weather Bureau and resides at 43 N. Glenview Ave., Lombard, Illinois. Ivan majored in mathematics and physics at Goshen College and received his B.A. in 1935. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and has been a member of ASA since 1948. He has authored a number of articles in meteorology and is doing research on the relationship of rainfall and the levels of the Great Lakes. His administrative duties also have involved public relations and forecasting. Ivan is active in the Mennonite Church where he is a trustee and chairman of Evangelism and Service Commission.

Cordelia Erdman Barber also has a new address: Box 68, Big Creek, California. She is now home executive as the mother of two children and says this has alter ed her professional activities for the next few years. Cordie received her B.S. from Wheaton College in 1946 and specialized in paleontology for the M.A. at Columbia University in 1949. For several years she taught geology at Wheaton College and has made a number of contributions to the ASA Annual Convention program and publications. Presently Cordie is active in the Big Creek Community Church where she is pianist.

Howard Ross Cramer is Assistant Professor of geolog at Franklin and Marshall College and resides at 307 N. West End, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1954 and is a member of Sigma Xi, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Geological Society of America, Pennsylvania Academy of Science and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Howard teaches undergraduate geology and carries on his research on fossil starfish. He is the author of a number of technical papers relating to his research interests. Dr. Cramer is active in the Baptist Church as a teacher, in the choir and as chairman of the Board of Education.

Richard Scott Mitchell is Assistant Professor of geology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan where he majored in mineralogy. Richard is a member of the Geological Society of America, Mineralogical Society of America, American Crystallographers Association, Sigma Xi, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, and joined the ASA in 19 3. He teaches mineralogy, petrology and crystallography in addition to his research on crystals and crystal growth. Dr. Mitchell's technical publications include studies on polytypes of silicon carbide and cadmium iodide. He is active in the Baptist Church and is adviser to the Virginia Christian Fellowship which is the local Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship group.

William F. Tanner is Associate Professor of geology at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. He obtained his B.A. from Baylor, 1937, M.A. from Texas Tech., 1939 and Ph.D. from Oklahoma University in 1953. Dr. Tanner is a member of A.A.P.G., S.E.P.M., G.S.A., A.G.U., A.A.A.S., S. Ex. G., A. M. S., S.S.A., I.A.H.R., Sigma Xi, A.P.S., Geologische Vereinigung, and became a member of ASA in 1955. Besides teaching and directing graduate research he finds time for consulting. His teaching and many technical articles cover a wide range of subjects: physical stratigraphy, geomorphology, experimental tectonics, shoreline geology, and subsurface geology. He is a deacon and Sunday School teacher in the Southern Baptist Church and also faculty sponsor for the Baptist Student Union.