Age of the Earth ’Äî Evidence from Science
Everything in this page is linked-to in Age of the Earth - Science Evidence and all except the first part (Multiple Independent Confirmations) are in the section for TOPICS where you can find other pages, including longer pages and additional young-earth responses, plus whole pages so you can see "the rest of the story" when, to reduce the amount of reading, I've "cut" parts of a page in what you see below.¬Ý This page is intended to provide a relatively quick overview of some scientific evidence (a very small fraction of it) supporting an old-earth conclusion.
Multiple Independent Confirmations by Rusbult
CORAL REEFS by Lindsay (with links to other authors)
FOSSIL PATTERNS ’Äî Part 1 by Isaak, Morton
ISOTOPE PATTERNS by EarthHistory
DETAILS IN LAYERS by EarthHistory, Morton
VARVE-LAYERS by Lindsay, Phillips, Morton, Isaak, Whitmore, Henke, Sarfati, Henke
FOSSIL PATTERNS ’Äî Part 2 by Gibson, Tosk (young-earth responses to patterns)
Multiple Independent Confirmations
by Craig Rusbult, in a page that also includes ideas about Historical Science and Apparent Age
A Wide Variety of Abundant
Young-earth "flood geology" theories, which propose that a global flood produced most of the earth's geology and fossil record, lead to theory-based explanations that seem incorrect — because they are not consistent with what we observe — for geological formations, and the spatial arrangement (both vertically and horizontally) of plant and animal fossils within this geological record. Although young-earth science makes some valid claims for the geological importance of catastrophic events, this does not contradict the old-earth theories of modern geology, which propose a combination of slow-acting uniformitarian processes and fast-acting catastrophic events such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods.
Although young-earth science makes some valid claims for the geological importance of catastrophic events, this does not contradict the old-earth theories of modern geology, which propose a combination of slow-acting uniformitarian processes and fast-acting catastrophic events such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods.
Evidence from a wide range of fields — including the study of sedimentary rocks, coral reefs, the fossil record in geological context, biogeographical patterns in fossils, seafloor spreading and continental drift, magnetic reversals, genetic molecular clocks, radioactive dating, the development of stars, starlight from faraway galaxies, and more — indicates that the earth and universe are billions of years old.
The Principle of Multiple
Because "a long time" is an essential component of many theories that in other ways (such as the domains they explain and the components they include) are relatively independent, it is less likely that suspicions of circular reasoning are justified. With this independence, the old-earth evidence is not like a "house of cards" where if one part falls it all falls. It is more like a strong house with a ceiling supported in many ways: by concrete walls reinforced by steel rods, plus granite pillars, wood beams,... Each support would be sufficient by itself, but when combined the support is even stronger. The young-earth task of pulling down the "old-earth house" would require discarding much of modern science. This isn't likely to happen, nor does it seem to be a desirable goal.
This principle of multiple independent confirmations is an essential part of scientific method. Its reliability, as an indicator of probable truth, is confirmed by logic and also by its excellent "track record" in the history of science. This powerful principle of science has convinced almost all scientists that the earth and universe are extremely old, and that scientific evidence-and-logic provides very strong support for this conclusion.
’Ä¢ Coral and the Moon
by Don Lindsay
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The Moon causes tides. Tides make the Earth slightly asymmetrical,
and one result is that the Earth's rotational energy is slowly being
stolen by the Moon. We spin more slowly: and the Moon rises to a
higher, slower orbit.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý This was worked out mathematically in the 1800's. Today, however, it has been measured.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý One consequence is that in the future, there will be fewer days in a year. And in the past, there would have been more.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Modern corals deposit a single, very thin layer of lime once a day. It is possible to count these diurnal (day-night) growth lines. You can also count annual growth. So, given the right piece of coral, you can measure how many days there are in a year.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý These measures can equally well be done on fossilized coral. For example, coral from the Pennsylvanian rockbeds have about 387 daily layers per year. Coral from the Devonian rockbeds have about 400 daily layers per year. In the Cambrian, a year was 412 days. One Precambrian stromatolite gave 435 days per year.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý With bivalves, you can count days and lunar months. Recent bivalves give 29.5 days per lunar month; Pennsylvanian give 30.2; Devonian give 30.5.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý If you care, there are a lot more details about coral. There's a reading list at the rear of that, and the topic is covered in Strahler, and the [old earth] Creationist Daniel Wonderly has written about it. But there are also some broader issues.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý For one, do all these numbers increase, as one goes to supposedly older and older layers of the "geologic column"? The answer is yes.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý For another, are these numbers the same, if one takes corals from different continents, but in the "same" rock layer? The answer is yes.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý For a third, do these numbers agree with the theoretical numbers that the astronomers had in hand? In order to tell, we need to use radioactive dating techniques, to get dates for the various rocks. [and again, the answer is yes]¬Ý So, the comparison is somewhat a test of radioactive dating.
More information is in a page about Coral Reefs.
FOSSIL PATTERNS in the Geological Record ’Äî Part 1
’Ä¢ Rebuttals of Creationist Claims ’Äî 4 pages (in a series with hundreds) edited by Mark Isaak for Talk Origins
The sub-sections below examines young-earth proposals (in theories of flood geology) for mechanisms to explain fossil patterns;¬Ý each sub-section contains the full text of the original pages (to see them, begin here and click Next Claim for Claims 2-4) but the originals also include links & references.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Ecological Zonation
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Claim 1:¬Ý Patterns of fossil deposition in Noah's Flood can be explained by ecological zonation. The lower strata, in general, would contain animals that lived in the lower elevations. Thus, marine invertebrates would be buried first, then fish, then amphibians and reptiles (who live at the boundaries of land and water), and finally mammals and birds. Also, animals would be found buried with other animals from the same communities.¬Ý¬Ý /¬Ý¬Ý Source:¬Ý Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 118-120.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Response:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 1. The fossil record does not show such a pattern of organisms sorted ecologically:
Many animals that appear in the lower strata appear in all strata, even recent ones. Corals and clams, for example, appear at all levels.
Whales do not appear until much later than fish, despite living in the same ecological zones.
Birds do not appear until after flying reptiles.
Dinosaurs consistently appear in strata before modern land animals.
Grasses live in virtually all land areas, but they appear in the geological record only near the top, long after other land animals and plants.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 2. Even if ecological zonation could explain how deeply various faunal zones are buried, it does not explain how they came to be buried atop one another. How did a terrestial ecology come to be transported on top of a marine ecology, such that fine details such as footprints, burrows, and paleosols were undisturbed and such that the layer extends over hundreds of square miles? How did many such layers get stacked on top of each other? Ecological zonation implies that the ecological zones got buried in place. What we see is ecological zones forming and living for awhile on top of the fossils of older ecological zones, repeatedly.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 3. Fossil strata often appear in orders that contradict ecological zonation (and other flood deposition explanations). For example, North American midcontinent outcrops record at least fifty-five cycles of marine inundation and withdrawal (Boardman and Heckel 1989; Heckel 1986). That is, marine ecologies are interleaved with terrestrial ecologies.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Hydrologic Sorting
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Claim 2:¬Ý The order of fossils deposited by Noah's Flood, especially those of marine organisms, can be explained by hydrologic sorting. Fossils of the same size will be sorted together. Heavier and more streamlined forms will be found at lower levels.¬Ý¬Ý /¬Ý¬Ý Source: Whitcomb, John C. Jr. and Henry M. Morris, 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., pp. 273-274
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Response:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 1. Fossils are not sorted according to hydrodynamic principles. Ammonites, which are buoyant organisms similar to the chambered nautilus, are found only in deep strata. Turtles, which are rather dense, are found in middle and upper strata. Brachiopods are very similar to clams in size and shape, but brachiopods are found mostly in lower strata than are clams. Most fossil-bearing strata contain fossils of various sizes and shapes. Some species are found in wide ranges, while others are found only in thin layers within those ranges. Hydrologic sorting can explain none of this.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 2. The sediments in which fossils are found are not hydrologically sorted. Coarse sediments are often found above fine sediments. Nor are the sediments sorted with the fossils. Large fossils are commonly found in fine sediments.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 3. A catastrophic flood would not be expected to produce much hydrologic sorting. A flood that lays down massive quantities of sediments would jumble up most of them.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Fossil Sorting by Fleeing
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Claim 3:¬Ý The order of fossils in the fossil record is explained by the animals' ability to escape the rising floodwaters. Slow animals, such as clams, are found low in the fossil record, while quicker animals, such as mammals and birds, appear higher.¬Ý¬Ý /¬Ý¬Ý Source:¬Ý Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 119.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Response:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 1. Fossils are not sorted according to their ability to escape rising floodwaters. If they were, we would expect to see slow-moving species like sloths and tortoises and every low-elevation plant at the bottom of the fossil record, while fast-moving species, such as velociraptors, pterosaurs, and giant dragonflies, would be at the top. But this is nothing like what we actually observe; in many cases we find just the opposite. For example, in undisturbed strata there has not been a single sloth fossil found below even the highest velociraptor remains, and flowering plants do not appear in the fossil record until after winged insects and reptiles.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 2. Even common present-day floods trap all manner of people and animals. The violence of a flood that could cover the entire earth in forty days would be bound to trap many individuals from even fast-moving species, especially those that were old and infirm, crippled, or trapped in low-lying areas. Therefore, we would expect to find the occasional member of fast-moving species near the bottom of the fossil record. However, the vast majority of fossilized species are only found within certain relatively narrow ranges within the fossil record. For example, human fossils are only found at the very top of the fossil record (Pleistocene period and later), and tyrannosaurs are only found at the end of the Cretaceous period.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 3. The fossil record preserves entire ecosystems, not just individual species. Fossils of one species are found in association with fossils of other species common to their ecosystem. If fossil distribution is dependent on the ability to escape rising floodwaters, then all the species within an ecosystem must be equally capable of escape for them to be preserved together. But since these associated species include both highly motile animals and completely nonmotile plants, this is obviously not the case.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Sorting by a Combination of Zonation, Hydrology, and Fleeing
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Claim 4:¬Ý The order of fossils deposited by Noah's Flood can be explained by a combination of hydrologic sorting, differential escape, and ecological zonation.¬Ý¬Ý /¬Ý¬Ý Source:¬Ý Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 118-120.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Response:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 1. Even this combination of forces fails to explain many aspects of the sorting of fossils. In particular, the problems with ecological zonation are not significantly mitigated by the other two sorting methods.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 2. Conventional geology explains the geological record, including its fossils, mineral content, geomagnetism, and radioisotopes. It does so in great detail and with great consistency in many, many places. Flood geology does not give a detailed explanation anywhere; what little explanation it offers is extremely vague hand waving, inconsistent with observations.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 3. The geological record contains more than biological fossils. Sediment patterns also record planetary rhythms from which we can determine the length of the day and long-term changes in climate. From these, we find that the geological record shows that the moon is slowing consistent with tidal friction (see also Sonett et al. 1996) and climate changes often follow the Milankovitch cycles (Krumenaker 1995). These "fossils" depend only on astronomical forces; they could not be explained by the Flood.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 4. There are innumerable other observations that contradict a global flood (Isaak 1998).
Counter-Responses from young-earth CreationWiki (search for "deposited by")
’Ä¢ Microfossil Stratigraphy Presents Problems for the Flood
by Glenn R. Morton (2000): whole page
In young-earth models of the global flood, they explain the fossil record as being due to hydrodynamic sorting and ecological zonation. Henry Morris writes: "The hydrodynamic sorting action of moving water is quite efficient, so that each stratum would tend to contain an assemblage of fossils of similar shapes and sizes." (Morris, 1967, p. 40)
If the prediction from the global flood is that small creatures should all be sorted out at the same time, the the fossil record does not satisfy that prediction.
Foraminifera are small, single cellular animals which would have existed in the oceans prior to the flood and due to their small size should be found all mixed together in the same or closely related strata. Foraminifera are used in the oil industry to determine where we are in the stratigraphic section while we are drilling a well. They range from .1 millimeters up to 10 millimeters or more. ...[part of paragraph was cut]...
Given the small size of the average species, they should all sort out at about the same time from the waters of the flood with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top.¬Ý This is not what we find when we look at the foraminifera fossil record. Genera of forams, all possessing the similar shape and similar size and only differing in the details of the test decoration, are found over vast vertical distances in the geologic column. We also find an almost invariant order of these tiny animals in the sedimentary column. In the Gulf of Mexico when we drill sediments that are not near salt the order is invariant. (Salt moves through the sediments of the Gulf of Mexico churning up the sediments near it)
...[most of the page has been cut]...
Even if a young-earth creationist dismisses the radiometric dating processes [described in part of the page that was cut], one can not escape the conclusion that the foraminifera rained down on the ocean bottom in a particular order all over the world. This means that there must have been a common cause for this foraminifer rain. Evolutionists simply say that the forams evolved, floated around the world in the ocean waters and when they died, fell to the sea floor. The order is caused by the time when a given species either goes extinct or evolved.
It is very difficult to see how each species of foram could have been on the earth and avoided burial while their fellow forams, which differed very little in size or shape, were all buried together at one time at one level. How in the world a turbulent, global flood could sort these tiny creatures by species is beyond me. As Morris predicted, the global flood should sort things out by size, yet we don't see things sorted by size in the geologic column. If Morris' prediction is correct we should expect almost all foraminifers to have been deposited nearly last and to be only in the uppermost sediments of the geologic column. They aren't. What Morris and other young-earth creationists require is for the global flood to sort these animals by minor visual clues. It is like throwing similar size and density sand particles, which are colored different colors, into a river and having the colors all sort out. This is impossible. Yet forams are so sorted. The only conclusion can be that their order is not due to a global flood but to a long period of deposition in which the animal life changed. The rain of dead forams from a sea with life forms that change over time explains the observed order quite well.
Thus the creationists are wrong on three points.
1. The sorting of the forams and other microfossils show that the deposition of the geologic column was NOT turbulent and catastrophic as they claim.
2. The pattern of species found in the geologic column merely by digging down through the rock layers does not match the survival expectations one would find in which a preflood biosphere was inundated with species dying off with time as the flood progressed. Indeed the absence of oceanic floaters until rocks halfway through the supposed flood period argues strongly against the flood view
3. Gradualistic evolution is documented among these tiny creatures laying bare the false claim that there are no transitional forms. What it shows is that the flood-advocates don't read anything except their own literature.
Glenn Morton also describes similar Patterns in Pollen that would not occur in a global flood in which "the pollen found in with the rocks would mostly have been given off by plants before the flood and we should expect a thorough mixing of the pollen with no clear starting and ending points in the geologic column. [but starting and ending points are observed] All pollen should be found at all levels [but it isn't] because according to the YEC model, all plants were on earth prior to the flood and were doing their thing, releasing pollen and spores into the wind. And then the flood would stir it all up. After all, the flood was a turbulent and chaotic event, eroding miles of pre-flood rock and depositing miles of new sedimentary rocks."
ISOTOPE PATTERNS in the Geological Record
’Ä¢ Isotopic Sorting and the Noah's Flood Model
page (2002) is from the EarthHistory website, with bold (but not italics) in original page.
Stable isotope stratigraphy is a method of correlating
sedimentary deposits in time and space based upon ratios of various stable
because the isotopic composition of global seawater evolves
over time, as a
result of various biological and geological processes. Variations
in the isotopic composition
of seawater over time are recorded by various proxies — for instance low-MG
calcite, or inorganic minerals such as barite. Boggs (1987, p. 688) writes: "Variations
in the relative abundance of certain stable, nonradioactive isotopes in
marine sediments and fossils can be used as a tool for chronostratigraphic
correlations of marine sediments. Geochemical evidence shows that the
isotopic composition of oxygen, carbon and sulpher in the ocean has undergone
fluctuations, or excursions, in the geological past — fluctuations that have
in marine sediments. Because the mixing time in the oceans is about 1000
years or less, marine isotopic excursions are considered
to be essentially isochronous
throughout the world. Variations in isotopic compositions of sediments or
fossils allow geochemists to construct isotopic composition curves that can
be used as
stratigraphic markers for correlation purposes."
The interesting point is that global isotopic changes occur throughout the geologic record, both in the shells of individual organisms and in inorganic marine precipitates, such as barite. Isotopic curves have been reconstructed for the entire Phanerozoic, documenting changes in seawater isotopic ratios during the past 500+ million years (e.g. Veizier et al., 1999; McArthur et al., 2001).
Fairly abrupt isotopic changes can often be correlated across the entire earth, for example a large del 13C excursion at the base of a specific conodont zone correlated with an extinction event. This implies that deposition of the shells and sediments in the geologic record occured at a rate that is fairly slow compared to the rate at which oceanic mixing occurs, about ≈10^3 years or so (Holser, Magaritz, and Wright 1986; Kump 1991). This is inconsistent with models in which a substantial portion of the geologic record is deposited by a single catastrophe lasting only months. On the [flood geology] diluvial model, all of the shelly fossils in the geologic record are the remains of animals that lived in a preflood ocean prior to the flood. In order to reconcile this hypothesis with the global isotopic patterns seen in the geologic record, the flood would have to transport and sort brachiopod shells, conodonts, forams and other calcerous fossils, and even inorganic minerals such as barite, by very subtle but consistent differences in C, O, S, and Sr isotopic ratios! And it would have to work virtually in real time across the entire earth. The difficulties entailed by trying to fit these data into a flood-model are obvious.
... [most of the page is cut, but I'll include one excerpt]... Erwin (1993) notes that "the isotopic signatures are so similar from sections ranging from restricted basins to open marine that the only reasonable conclusion is that the major shifts are globally synchronous events" (p. 198).
A simple explanation for these isotopic variations and their concordance from basin to basin is simply that the isotopic composition of the oceans and atmosphere have varied over time, and that the isotopic composition of shells, organic matter and so on in the geologic record reflect the isotopic composition which prevailed in their environment at the time they lived.
Flood geology, on the other hand, will hardly be able to explain this data in terms of a single catastrophe lasting only months. For instance, why would these variations even exist in the first place, if all the marine organisms in the fossil record lived immediately prior to the flood? And even if all these marine organisms did NOT live immediately prior to the flood, instead accumulating in the 1600 or so years before the flood, there would still remain the immense problem of how the flood could possibly sort forams, brachiopod shells, conodonts, as well as ‘organic matter,’ by *tiny* but consistent differences in O, C, S, and Sr isotopic composition, in virtually identical stratigraphic sequences, in basins separated by thousands of miles.
DETAILS IN LAYERS
’Ä¢ Dinosaur Eggs & Nests, and the Flood Theory
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý According to the "Noah's flood theory" promoted by Answers in Genesis, virtually the entire sedimentary record originated as the result of a single, months-long catastropic flood.¬Ý Though the text of Genesis states that the flood itself lasted approximately one year, but that by the end of the 40 days of rain, all the mountains were covered with water and "every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth" (7:17).¬Ý This leads to the expectation that trackways and burrows, if they occur at all, should occur only in the lowest flood deposits.¬Ý Contrary to this expectation, evidence of living, breathing terrestrial animals are found in strata from the Ordovician onward in the form of burrows (Retallack, 2001) and from the Devonian onward in the case of trackways (Lockley and Hunt, 1995).¬Ý This directly contradicts the predictions of "flood geology."¬Ý We would not expect dinosaurs or other terrestrial animals to be walking around underwater at the sediment-water interface, throughout the flood.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Dinosaur nests are another problem for the Noah's Flood" hypothesis.¬Ý Obviously it is absurd to suppose that dinos swam beneath the flood waters to construct nests and deposit their eggs, often in carefully arranged patterns.¬Ý [Eggs are found arranged in various patterns within the nest, including circular and spiral arrangments, erect and flat-lying. Individual clutches with up to 26 eggs are known. Some "nesting sites" are huge and laterally extensive.]
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý ... [the rest of this page ’Äî whose author is not listed in it ’Äî has been cut]
The page-excerpts below (with links to the full pages which include pictures) are all by Glenn Morton:
’Ä¢ While the Flood Rages, Termites Dig, Dinosaurs Dance and Cicadas Sing
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý No, this isn't about termites eating the ark, although that is quite a problem. I do know where the termites were during the flood. They were busy eating and being eaten by predators. They were living their lives as if a global flood wasn't happening. Amazing, I know.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý ... [middle part of page is cut, between the first and last paragraphs, above and below] ...
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Features like these - termite nests, dinosaur tracks, cicada burrows and channels - are not easily explainable by the YECs. They don't show their followers this type of data, and they have not explained it. Such photos do not make it into the YEC literature, which shows the intellectual dishonesty of the YEC leaders. Honesty demands that data like this be shown and explained. But sadly it isn't.
’Ä¢ Tracks and Raindrop, Hail and Ice Impressions Demonstrates Slow Deposition
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý One of the fascinating aspects of the geologic and paleontologic record involves the capturing in stone of slow processes which are incompatible with the young-earth creationist idea of a global flood.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý ... [middle part of the page has been cut] ...
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The features discussed above clearly don't require a global flood to form. Indeed, quite the opposite, they indicate a slow rate of deposition.
’Ä¢ Three Hundred Years in the Middle of the Flood -- Evidence of Time in the Geologic Record
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý One of the things that young-earth creationists miss is the activities of biological organisms in the fossil record. Desert varnish is an iron manganese oxide coating that is found on rocks in arid regions. For years this coating was thought to be an abiologic chemical reaction. This has been shown to be false. Desert varnish is now known to be the result of bacteria which live on the surface of the rocks and through their biologic activity deposit a manganese rich coating on the rock surface. Living in nearly a waterless environment, these microbes protect themselves from ultraviolet light by oxidizing the manganese in the rock. (Wills and Bada 2000, p. 165-166)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý When European priests first entered the arid southwestern US, they found vast tracks of land with cobbles dark on the top and light on the undersides. They turned the stones over making huge, light-colored crosses in the desert. In the intervening 300 years, the crosses are still visible but are now beginning to fade. It has taken 300 years for the microbes to cover the stones' upper surfaces with varnish.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý With this as a background, what is one to conclude when we find this same type of varnish coating Permian sand grains in the Zechstein of the North Sea? The Permian rocks are from the very middle of the supposedly flood deposited rocks. This should be the time of the maximal flooding of the earth, yet here we find desert varnish which requires at least 300 years to form. Not only this, the sand grains which are coated with this slow-forming film, are found in shape of sand dunes like those found in arid regions today. (Ruffell and Shelton, p. 305)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Clearly this evidence shows that there was at least a 300 year interval in the middle of the flood. This is something that the young-earth creationists never tell you!¬Ý¬Ý [this is the entire text of the page, with no cuts]
’Ä¢ Salt, Meteors and the Global Flood
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Global Flood advocates put most of their efforts with regard to salt to explain how the oceans supposedly couldn’Äôt be as old and evolutionists say. But they never tell their readers about the evidence within the salt which proves huge ages and slow deposition of the salt.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The very presence of bedded salt in the geologic record is evidence that it was not deposited during a WET global flood. Salt dissolves in water, it doesn’Äôt deposit out of water unless the water is saturated with salt. And when it is saturated with salt, no vertebrate life can live in those waters. So, why do we find huge salt beds in the middle of the geologic column and which are very widespread? All of Michigan is underlain by the Salina Salt which reaches as much as 3100 feet thick. How did this happen in the midst of the biggest water event in history’Äîthe Noachian flood?
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Some creationists have claimed that a mechanism by Omer B. Raup will explain the salt. In this mechanism, brines of different mixture come in contact with each other and when the interface is stirred, salt is deposited. That is the only known method of salt being deposited under water. But will it explain the salt we see in the geologic column? No.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý If the salt were deposited by Raup’Äôs mechanism in a global flood with its turbulence, the salt should contain much mud quarts and other impurities. But salt is relatively pure. The biggest contaminants are other evaporative minerals like gypsum, anhydrite and carbonate. Salt beds contain almost no clastics.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý But one other contaminant they have are microscopic plankton. The existence of such creatures makes it appear as if the salt really were evaporated! They also contain pollen grains, which are known to fall out of the air. This contamination makes it look as if the salt were open to the air at the time it was deposited. This is something that is incompatible with the global flood concept.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý ... [part of page was cut] ...
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Another deposit contains meteoritic dust in quantities consistent with what would be expected from a slowly evaporating basin. ... [more cuts]
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Why would a global flood, which all agree was a very watery event, deposit salt in such a fashion as to make it look like it was really evaporating. The salt beds lack the features we would expect in a global flood’Äîlarge quantities of the erosive quartz and shale generated by all the erosion going on in the flood---but they contain the features’Äîpollen and meteoritic dust-- at just the quantities expected from slow deposition. Did the flood meteoritic dust influx speed up just exactly as much as is needed to make the salt LOOK like it was deposited slowly? Why would God do that? I bet no global flood advocate here can tell us how the flood did this. [end of page is cut]
More details-in-layers, from Morton and EarthHistory, are in a links-page.
’Ä¢ Counting Rock Layers
by Don Lindsay
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Regardless of how they formed, it would seem odd to have a rock of
more than 6,000 layers in a world that is 6,000 years old. So, without
using radioactive dating or astronomical dating we could try simply
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý For instance, we could count the Green River formation in Wyoming. It contains more than 4,000,000 layers, or varves, identical to those being laid down today in certain freshwater lakes. The sediments are so fine that each layer would have required over a month to settle.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The basic reason for varves is that rivers run faster in the spring. A flooding river is able to carry coarse material. During the rest of the year, the river is slower, and it can only carry less-coarse material. The result is that lake bottom deposits tend to alternate, coarse/fine/coarse/fine.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Studies of present-day lakes don't always show two layers per year. There might be a cycle of 2, 3 or 4 distinct sediments, and then the same cycle repeats. But in the Green River varves, the cycle has only two layers - a fine light sediment, and an even finer dark sediment.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý And of course the occasional storm might add an extra layer. However, this hardly turns millions of layers into a 6,000 year project.
’Ä¢ Varves: Layered Sediments as Evidence for an Old Earth
by Perry G. Phillips
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý A varve is a pair of thin layers of sediment. Typically, one band of the varve is light and
composed of sand, pollen, and spores, while the second layer is dark and composed of very fine
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Varves are formed by seasonal variations in sedimentary deposition. The lighter band is laid down during the summer when a greater flow of water in nearby rivers and streams brings coarse, sandy material into the lake. The larger particles settle rather quickly, but the winds that constantly agitate the surface of the lake keep the fine clay in suspension. In winter, when the lake freezes over, the effect of the winds is not felt, and the clay particles slowly settle to the bottom. When the lake thaws, the cycle begins anew. Each varve, therefore, typically represents one year. One can determine the age of a varve formation by counting the number of couplets, just as one can determine the age of a tree by counting its rings.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Varve deposits display great age. The Salido, Castile, and Bell Canyon formations of west Texas contain 260,000 couplets. Hence, this formation is most naturally considered to be 260,000 years old. Core samples have also revealed that these varves have uniform thickness over many square miles.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Young Earth Creationists, of course, reject such an old age for this formation. They attribute its origin to Noah's Flood, which lasted about one year. To lay down 260,000 varves in one year, however, requires that about 720 couplets be laid down each day, or about one pair every two minutes - an implausible scenario given the evenness, extent, and alternating composition of the layers.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Young Earth Creationists are even more hard-pressed to explain the origin of the Green River Shales. These varves span parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, and cover 40,000 square miles with about 7.5 million paper-thin couplets. This formation is 2500 feet thick, and it lies upon another 25,000 feet of sedimentary rocks. Flood geologists attribute the entire 27,500 foot configuration to the work of Noah's Flood. This means that about 75 feet of sediments were deposited every day. For the shales, 75 feet amount to 225,000 couplets. This corresponds to 2.5 couplets formed each second, for one year, with the correct light-dark alternation of the bands, over an area of 40,000 square miles - an unbelievable feat.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Further difficulties with explaining all this sediment as laid down by the Flood arise from fossilized evidence of birds, such as nesting sites, egg shells, coprolites (fossilized feces), and foot prints - all in a layer just below the shales. These remains match present-day flamingo nesting sites in East Africa, so it is reasonable to attribute the fossilized sites to flamingos that lived by the lake in which the Green River Shales formed. It is hard, however, to see how flamingos could hatch their eggs, raise families, digest the food from which the coprolites were formed, and take walks with 75 feet of sediment piling on them every day!
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Young Earth Creationists point out that fossilized fish that span hundreds of couplets are found in the shales. They argue that dead fish could not have lasted hundreds of years without disintegrating; hence, the varves do not indicate seasonal depositions. Chemical analysis of these sediments, however, reveals that the water of the lake in which the varves formed was very alkaline. The dead fish, in effect, were pickled; they would not decompose and would have lasted for such duration as it took to cover them with sediments.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý In light of the positive evidence for the great age of these varves, combined with totally unacceptable explanations for their formation by Noah's Flood, it is clear that they are much older than the 10-20,000 years claimed by Young Earth Creationists as the age of the earth.
’Ä¢ Varve Details
by Glenn Morton (below are excerpts from a page about Young-Earth Arguments)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý This [photos are omitted in these excerpts] is Figure 4 in Lambert and Hsu's article. Lake Walensee
Storm Varves (Left) vs. Lake Zurich Yearly Varves (Right). [they look very different]¬Ý Notice the regular
laminations on the part of the yearly varves.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Steve Austin wrote: "Thin, rhythmic silt and clay layers found in lakes are frequently called 'varves,' with each layer being considered to represent annual repetitions of a slow sedimentary process. Lambert and Hsu present evidence from a Swiss lake that these varve-like layers form rapidly by catastrophic, turbid water underflows. At one location five 'varves' formed during a single year." (Austin 1984, p. 272)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Obviously, Austin did not read the article carefully enough. The above is a drawing of Figure 4 in Lambert and Hsu's article. Lambert and Hsu stated "We do not intend to make an unwarranted generalization that no varves are deposits of annual cycles. Figure 4 shows varves from the mesotrophic Lake Zurich where the light laminae represent chemical sedimentation prevailing during summers and the darker laminae detrital sedimentation during winters. A comparison of those varves with the non-annual varves of the oligotrophic Walensee shows that the annual rhythms of Lake Zurich varves are more regular, while the irregularity of the Walensee 'varves' reflects the unpredictability of the weather."(Lambert and Hsu, 1979, p. 453-461) Austin's representation of Lake Walensee's varves as indicative that nonyearly varves are identical to yearly varves is entirely erroneous.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Pollen in the Varves:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Regular varves like those shown above on the right were described by Richard Foster Flint, an expert on Quaternary geology. He said (1971, p. 400),
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý "A rhythmite deposited in a lake near Interlaken in Switzerland consists of thin couplets each containing a light-colored layer rich in calcium carbonate and a dark layer rich in organic matter. Proof that the couplets are annual, and therefore varves, is established on organic evidence, first recognized by Heer(1865). The sediment contains pollen grains, whose number per unit volume of sediment varies cyclically being greatest in the upper parts of the dark layers. The pollen grains of various genera are stratified systematically according to the season of blooming. Finally, diatoms are twice as abundant in the light-colored layers as in the dark. From this evidence it is concluded that the light layers represent summer seasons and the dark ones fall, winter and spring. Counts of the layers indicate a record that is valid through at least the last 7,000 years B. P. "
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý A cursory look at the layers in the figure above shows that they are not the same thing.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Carbon 14 and Varves:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Lake varves contain much organic material which can be dated by carbon 14. If the varves are yearly and the radiocarbon dating method works, then the radiocarbon dates should be just about equal to the varve count. Below [diagram omitted here] are the results of a study done by Alan Craig. He counted 10,200 varves and then radioactively dated the organic material in the core. Notice that the C-14 ages agree very well with the varve count. (Turekian, 1971, p. 61)
The main young-earth responses (as summarized by John Morris and Kurt Howard, which you can find in the links-page for age-science) are discussed below.
’Ä¢ Rebuttals of Creationist Claims
edited by Mark Isaak for Talk Origins ’Äî The whole page includes links & references.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Claim CD241: Varves (layers of silt that show seasonal differences) do not necessarily
form annually. Individual varves can form in less than a year. Thus,
claims that 10,000 varve layers represent 10,000 years are unwarranted.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Source: Garner, Paul, 1997. Green River blues. Creation 19(3) (June-Aug.): 18-19.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Response:
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 1. The seasonal nature of varves is sometimes indicated by the systematic variation of pollen from seasonal plants (Morton 2002; citing Flint 1971, 400).
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 2. There is at least one formation that contains twenty million varves. That represents more than 50,000 years even if you assume varves were formed at a rate of one per day. And the fineness of the silt precludes the possibility that they could have formed that rapidly.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 3. The 45,000-year varve record of Lake Suigetsu is consistent with other dating techniques, such as carbon-14 dating and the tree ring record (Kitagawa and van der Plicht 1998).
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 4. Non-annual fine-grained layers are recognizably different from varves. Layers that form rapidly tend to be much more irregular, reflecting the changes in the weather conditions that cause them (Morton 1998). Annual varves are observed forming today. They produce uniform layers seen also in the geologic record.
’Ä¢ Exploding Fish: Evidence for Rapid Burial ’Äî by John Whitmore (young earth)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The Green River Formation (GRF) of Wyoming (left) contains millions of exquisite fossil fish that are sought by collectors worldwide (Figure 2). Because so many beautiful specimens have been harvested from the GRF, few realize that many of the fish remains are far from perfect. In fact, many of the fish are disarticulated, their bony remains and scales scattered, no longer connected together as when they were alive (Figure 3). Studying fossils and the layers of rocks they are contained within can give us clues as to whether the fossils were formed during or shortly after the worldwide cataclysm popularly known as Noah’Äôs Flood. ...[3 sections in the page are omitted]...
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Rapid Burial:¬Ý Experiments and observations of dead fish in modern settings show that they decay within days or weeks after death. Perfectly preserved fossil fish that do not show any signs of decay must have been buried rapidly. Modern lakes normally do not contain fish remains because mud is not accumulating quickly enough within them to preserve the remains. Some fish in the fossil record do show signs of decay, but even those fish must have been buried soon after the decay began. In other words, rapid burial must have occurred in order to preserve their exploded remains in the fossil record.¬Ý /¬Ý Scientists have studied decay in fish, as well as many other groups of organisms. These experiments overwhelmingly show that rapid decay takes place in many types of organisms under many conditions.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Summary:¬Ý Rocks which contain fossils show that the rocks must have hardened quickly in order to preserve their fossil remains. When sedimentary rocks are examined, many of them contain exquisitely preserved fossils. Fish fossils and all other types of fossils demonstrate that rocks have accumulated quickly in the past and not over millions of years, as conventional geology teaches.
’Ä¢ Fossil Fish ’Äî by Brad Henke, from his Response to Jonathan Sarfati below
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The Green River Formation contains some beautifully preserved fish and other fossils.¬Ý 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.¬Ý 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.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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).
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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.¬Ý 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.¬Ý 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.
’Ä¢ Ideas about Layers
by Jonathan Sarfati (young-earth, in a rebuttal of Mark Isaak's Problems with a Global Flood)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Isaak [question]: “How can a single flood be responsible for such extensively detailed layering?”
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Answer [by Sarfati]: Isaak is evidently ignorant of the Mt. St. Helens volcano and sedimentation evidence of Berthault, et al., published in the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. These show that the layers do not need to form slowly, one at a time, but can form simultaneously by a self-sorting mechanism as the differently-sized particles roll over each other. A recent Nature article on spontaneous multi-layer formation shows that the secular journals have finally caught up with the creationary scientists, who published evidence like this 10 years ago so much for the bigoted evolutionists’ claim that “creationists do no scientific research.” See the CENTJ article, Sedimentation experiments: Nature finally catches up”. Isaak also seems unaware that Mt. St. Helens laid down 7.6 metres (25 feet) of finely laminated sediments in a few hour. More recently, Iceland’s recent “mega-flood” (jökulhlaup) also laid down many finely laminated rhythmites.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Isaak [question]: “How do you explain the formation of varves? The Green River formation in Wyoming contains 20,000,000 annual layers, or varves, identical to those being laid down today in certain lakes. The sediments are so fine that each layer would have required over a month to settle.”
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Answer [by Sarfati]: The self-sorting mechanism described above explains that. It’s simply nonsense that the layers would have to form slowly, and/or one at a time. The evaporite mechanism fails to explain the variation in the number of layers between the same pair of volcanic ash layers. More importantly, it fails to explain why there are fish and other fossils many different layers. They would have decayed if they were on the bottom for thousands of years being slowly buried layer by layer (the varves are 0.1 mm thick in one of the fossil-bearing sections). This applies even if the water was low in oxygen.
’Ä¢ Ideas about Layers
by Brad Henke (in a response to Sarfati's rebuttal)
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Origins of Layered Sediments, including Varves
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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)!! [most of next paragraph has been cut]
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý J. Sarfati and YEC Snelling ... loudly proclaim that YEC Austin has made an important discovery at Mt. St. Helens; that is, laminar- and cross-beds can rapidly form.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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). [most of this paragraph is cut]
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Green River Formation
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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).¬Ý 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.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý The famous Green River Formation of Wyoming contains numerous laminae, some of which are varves.¬Ý 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.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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.¬Ý [some of page was cut]
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Now, scientists KNOW that NOT all of the layering in the Green River Formation are varves.¬Ý [some of page was cut]
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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.¬Ý So, how could Berthault's "self-sorting mechanism" speed up the deposition of silts and clays? ...[some of paragraph was cut]... 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.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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):
¬Ý¬Ý¬ÝCycle in Years*¬Ý ¬Ý¬Ý
¬Ý¬Ý¬ÝIn Green River Formation?¬Ý¬Ý¬Ý
ENSO (El Nino!!)
¬Ý¬Ý¬ÝLong eccentricity cycle¬Ý¬Ý¬Ý
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Notice
that the cause(s) of some of the cycles have not been explained.¬Ý Other expected cycles
were not detected in the research discussed in Fischer and Roberts (1991) and Ripepe et
al. (1991).¬Ý The cycles are real; there's no conspiracy here.¬Ý 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.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý 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.¬Ý Why?¬Ý Because these correlations utterly refute young-Earth creationism and YECs haven't been able to cook up any natural explanations to deal with them.¬Ý 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?¬Ý 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.¬Ý 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.¬Ý Quiet and stagnant water is needed to record these astronomical processes and slow climatic changes.¬Ý All YECs can do is invoke groundless miracles or ignore 70 years of research and just refuse to acknowledge the existence of the cycles.
FOSSIL PATTERNS in the Geological Record ’Äî Part 2
This section shows two young-earth responses to old-earth claims about fossil patterns.
’Ä¢ Fossil Patterns: A Classification and Evaluation
by Jim Gibson - young earth - Geoscience Research Institute, paper is from Origins 23(2):68-99 (1996).
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Summary
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý One of the most interesting challenges in understanding Earth history is explanation of the order in the fossil record. Identification and analysis of fossil patterns may provide one of the tools needed to reach a better understanding of the fossil record. Fossil patterns and fossil trends that extend through the fossil record imply that some processes acted throughout the production of that record. In this paper, 25 reported fossil patterns are classified into four categories: fossil diversity patterns; fossil morphological patterns; fossil ecological patterns; and depositional patterns. Possible creationist and evolutionary interpretations of these fossil patterns and trends are described. Some fossil patterns seem difficult to explain from a creationist viewpoint; others seem difficult to explain from an evolutionary viewpoint. Further research of fossil patterns and fossil trends may aid in our understanding of the processes that were responsible for producing the order in the fossil record.
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý Study of the fossil record has revealed much about the past. Our
knowledge has been developed through the study of such features as anatomical structures,
the degree of preservation, the types of fossils found together, and the nature of the
surrounding sediments. With the accumulation of such data, it is natural that comparative
studies would be undertaken to determine what patterns can be identified. Patterns in the
fossil record may provide valuable clues to identifying processes active during production
of the fossil record. This paper is intended to survey and classify the types of fossil
patterns that have been reported in the literature, and to comment on their possible
¬Ý ¬Ý ¬Ý ... [most of paper has been omitted] ...
Those who have hoped fossil patterns and trends would reveal a straightforward story of Earth history have met disappointment. Some features of the fossil record seem to suggest one view, while other features seem to suggest another. Persons with differing views of Earth history can point to selected features of the fossil record to support their views.
Regardless of the viewpoint, our understanding is incomplete. The challenge to creationists is to explain fossil trends as the result of the way in which the Flood eroded and buried the biota of various habitats. The creationist viewpoint considers ecological and depositional trends to be primary. Diversity trends and morphological series are considered to be secondary consequences of the primary trends.
From this viewpoint, ecological fossil trends are interpreted to reflect the expansion of Flood activity as additional habitats and additional geographic regions were swept away. This implies segregation of habitats in a highly structured pre-Flood ecology. The observed ecological fossil trends are trends by addition, not by replacement (see Appendix 3). Since relatively dense and immobile marine invertebrates are found in upper layers as well as in lower layers, there must have been additional source areas available for destruction at different stages in the Flood. This is why pre-Flood marine habitats are postulated to have occurred in different regions and at different elevations. This part of the explanation seems ad hoc, but a highly structured pre-Flood ecology seems to be an essential part of the theory.
Depositional trends are less frequently reported, but a few have been identified (see Appendix 3). The decrease in relative importance of limestone together with the increase in lake deposits can be linked to the expansion of the Flood beyond the main ocean bodies into the terrestrial environment. Habitat inferences based on depositional energy might alternatively be considered under depositional patterns. More study in this area is highly desirable. The relative geographic locations and stratigraphic positions of high energy and low energy deposits might provide helpful insights into the sequence and extent of various local or regional events during the Flood. The same could be said of patterns of storm deposits and lagerstˆ§tten. It would be interesting to determine if these patterns could be related to extraterrestrial impacts, plate arrangements, or paleocurrents. More information is also needed about possible trends in taphonomic processes.
Several diversity trends can be interpreted as the result of the expansion of Flood activity (see Appendix 1). Among these are coordinated appearances (e.g., the Cambrian Explosion), increasing diversity, disparity before diversity, and coordinated disappearances. The precise and consistent stratigraphic sorting of fossils into different strata is more problematic. A large-scale sorting mechanism is required to explain the consistency of the sorting over continent-sized geographic regions. The Flood may provide such a mechanism, but the details have yet to be worked with. The trend toward increasing provinciality also seems problematic for the Flood theory.
Morphological patterns provide a mixed bag for creationists. Most morphological patterns are consistent with creationist expectations (see Appendix 2). These include morphological stasis in fossil species, morphological gaps among species, systematic gaps among higher taxa, higher-taxon stasis, coordinated stasis, lack of ancestors, and ubiquitous morphological specialization. Many body-size trends may be expected in a flood, but further study is needed to clarify the processes involved. Increasing complexity may be a secondary effect of increasing terrestriality among vertebrates. The most significant challenges to creationism from the fossil record are probably the increasing similarity to modern species and stratigraphic sorting of species into morphological series. These trends are the most important fossil evidence for the alternative to the Flood theory, the theory of evolution. One of the major goals of creation scientists should be to provide alternative explanations for morphological series of fossils. Some morphological series have been linked to ecological rather than evolutionary causes, but much more study is needed in this area.
The fossil record is a record of destruction and death. Is it the record of undirected history, in which every species lives for a while, then becomes extinct? Does it trace an evolutionary history of common ancestry, natural selection and improvement? Or is it a record of worldwide catastrophic destruction, designed to serve as a reminder of the effects of sin? Science alone does not provide a satisfactory answer, but the Bible indicates the latter interpretation is the correct one. The details are not given, and no present theory adequately explains all the data. No one has been able to figure out how to put everything together. However, by comparing the Bible and the fossil record, we can find meaning in the geologic column. Catastrophic activity and global patterns, perhaps the two most important predictions of the Flood theory, are clearly seen in the fossil record. The sudden, abrupt appearance of morphological disparity among marine animals in the "Cambrian Explosion" speaks of the beginning of the Flood. The terrible destructive power of the Flood is seen in the many extinct fossil groups. The lack of ancestors in the Precambrian rocks indicates the separate creation of many different groups. The presence of morphological gaps among higher taxa throughout the fossil record further illustrates this point.
Not everyone will interpret the record in this way. But those who are willing to test their ideas by the Bible can see divine purpose in the fossil record. This evidence affirms the reality of divine purpose in the present, and in the future.
’Ä¢ Foraminifers in the Fossil Record: Implications for an Ecological Zonation Model
by Tammy Tosk - young earth - paper was in Origins 15(1):8-18 (1988).
Do the sequence and diversity of foraminifers in the fossil record represent
evolutionary development, or are there alternative explanations? The fossils in the geologic column have been thought to be a record,
although certainly not a complete record, of the development of life on Earth. Because the
prevailing paradigm assumes that the current processes operated at current rates in the
past, the fossil record is assumed to have been formed slowly as evolving plants and
animals lived, died and were buried, as we observe today.
Scientists working under that paradigm look for different kinds of information than do those who assume that the fossil record is the result of a major catastrophe. Because they think that fossils buried low in the geologic column must be much older than and ancestral to those buried in the upper parts of the column, they look for similarities and differences indicating evolutionary relationships.
Many scientists also assume that the fossils lived in the area where they were buried and fossilized, only being transported before burial in ways similar to those observed today. Fossils would thus give information about the environment of the area where they lived and died.
If a major catastrophe such as the Noachian flood was involved, the fossil distribution would be the result of factors other than just time and evolutionary change. A scientist looking at the fossil record under a flood paradigm would assume that most of the fossilized plants and animals had been living contemporaneously, and this scientist would look for characteristics of the fossils that would explain their order of burial during a major catastrophe. Some of the information needed for such an interpretation is often included in the reports generally published, but much is not.
Species descriptions give information about the shape and structure of the fossil, but may not give differences in size, thickness and weight that would be significant in studies of their buoyancy and other transport characteristics. Differences in preservation, which could be indicative of extensive transportation, are generally only mentioned as problems for their identification. Stratigraphic occurrences (the vertical range of the fossil in the geologic column) and geographic occurrences (the locations where the species has been found) are generally given when known. However, only a small fraction of the sedimentary rock in the crust of the earth has been examined for fossils, so their true distribution and abundance can only be estimated.
Another problem with using published descriptions and stratigraphic data is that fossils are often placed in different taxa, even in different superfamilies, if they are found at different levels, even though they might be placed in the same genus or species if found together. It is therefore difficult to recognize potentially equivalent species in the geologic column.
Several questions must, however, be asked of the fossil record to determine if its formation could have taken place within a short period of time. To show the plausibility of a model in which a significant part of the geologic column was deposited during a one-year, world-wide flood and its aftermath, one must show that all the fossils in flood deposits could have been deposited or reworked during the flood events into the observed biostratigraphy, and that similar organisms living after the flood would have a biogeographic distribution and genetic variability consistent with the loss of most of their population during the flood events.
To fully answer all these questions for all the fossil groups would require many lifetimes of research. This paper will explore only the group with which I am most familiar the microfossils called foraminifers.
Significance of Foraminifers
Protozoans of the Order Foraminiferida have been used extensively for relative dating of marine sedimentary rocks. They are small, generally less than a millimeter in length, and often found in such abundance that hundreds of specimens can be recovered from a mudstone sample with only a few hours of work. Because they are easily recovered from drilling chips, they are used to correlate strata in oil wells. An extensive literature of taxonomy and stratigraphic occurrences has therefore been developed for economic as well as academic reasons.
Foraminifers have more architectural diversity than any other fossil group. Many forms are long-ranging, being found through major segments of the fossil record. Other more specialized forms have very restricted ranges, and so are useful as index fossils. Foraminifers can therefore be used to correlate most marine sedimentary deposits.
... [most of the paper has been cut] ...
The abundance, diversity and distribution of foraminifers in the fossil record exemplify many of the problems of fitting the fossil record into a short chronology, such as the multitude of species, large numbers of organisms, and apparent evolutionary sequences of simple to complex forms. Living species of foraminifers exhibit diverse morphological forms under varying environmental conditions, raising the possibility that many of the nominal species in the fossil record are actually ecophenotypes. In this case, a long time for evolution to take place would not be required. Presumed evolutionary sequences could then represent populations living in different environments or in the changing conditions during the flood and as it subsided.
Foraminifers are sparsely represented in the fossil record up through the Triassic, with most specimens found in small fossiliferous deposits. [?? 12 October 2001] With this in mind, and the fact that foraminifers can multiply rapidly, it seems plausible that the number of organisms found in the geologic column could have been produced in the time since creation.
The distribution of foraminifers in the fossil record seems to bear some resemblance to their ecological distribution in the oceans today. Fossil benthic species are found in most Phanerozoic strata, and similar forms are found living in ecological zones ranging from the deep sea to brackish estuaries. Fossil planktonic species are found only in Jurassic and younger strata, while living planktonic species are found floating in the upper parts of the water column. These distributions seem consistent with an ecological zonation model. The extinct large fusulinids in the Upper Paleozoic are anomalous, however. They are interpreted to have had symbiotic algae, so must have lived in shallow environments, perhaps in the upper ecologic zones of a low elevation sea.