Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Strata and the Great Flood

The previous blog post cited an ancient Hindu text that correctly recorded the fact that the Vale of Kashmir was once a large lake or inland sea, as well as the fact that this inland sea housed a monster that ate people. The authors of the text either knew or correctly guessed that the Kashmir Valley had once held water, long before science confirmed the fact.

To even mention the possibility that such a creature, as well as the more famous creatures alleged to dwell in the inland lakes in the mountainous regions of Scotland (the lochs), could be descendents of ancient marine reptiles trapped inside large bodies of water is of course to invite scoffers and ridicule, but let's ask why such a possibility should invite ridicule. It invites ridicule not because nobody believes that enormous ancient reptiles ever existed: their existence in the past is fairly widely accepted. It invites ridicule because the last of the enormous ancient reptiles are assumed to have perished around 66 million years ago. Let's have a look at the foundation of this assumption.

The foundation of the assumption that this or that species became extinct x-number of million years ago rests upon the bedrock uniformitarian principle of the geologic column, or the stratigraphic column (or the science of "stratigraphy"). Stratigraphy is the process of naming the different layers of generally sedimentary material found around the world, and giving those layers dates based on a certain model of earth's ancient past.

The process of naming and dating these layers took place during the early 1800s, and continued through the rest of the nineteenth century. The model that is taught today has changed somewhat since then, and a few of the older names have been discarded and replaced with newer ones, but the major divisions and naming convention remains fairly consistent and should be at least casually familiar to most readers. It begins with the Pre-Cambrian period (supposedly stretching from 4.6 billion years ago all the way up to 542 million years ago) and proceeds as follows:
  • Cambrian period (542 million years ago to 488 million years ago)
  • Ordovician period (488 million years ago to 443 million years ago)
  • Silurian period (443 million years ago to 416 million years ago)
  • Devonian period (416 million years ago to 359 million years ago)
  • Carboniferous period (359 million years ago to 299 million years ago)
  • Permian period (299 million years ago to 251 million years ago)
  • Triassic period (251 million years ago to 200 million years ago)
  • Jurassic period (200 million years ago to 146 million years ago)
  • Cretaceous period (146 million years ago to 66 million years ago)
  • Cenozoic period (66 million years ago to present; formerly known as the Tertiary period with other subdivisions, it is now divided into other subdivisions such as the Paeogene and Neogene).
Many of these names come from localities in Europe, especially in England and the British Isles, where the first uniformitarians were active in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Strata corresponding to all of these periods are found nowhere in one place, but geologists identify the layers found in different places with various periods in this "geologic column." For example, the diagram at top shows a cutaway of the beautiful layering in the Grand Canyon, and is marked with numbers and letters to correspond to the named layers, which are as follows (from bottom to top):
  • 1a and 1b Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite (1.8 billion to 1.7 billion years ago -- Pre-Cambrian)
  • unlabeled striped layers above 1a and below 3a Grand Canyon Supergroup (1.2 billion to 740 million years ago -- also Pre-Cambrian)
  • 3a Tapeats Sandstone (in the Tonto Group, 525 to 505 million years ago -- Cambrian)
  • 3b Bright Angel Shale (also in the Tonto Group, see above)
  • 3c Muav Limestone (also in the Tonto Group, see above)
  • 4a Temple Butte Limestone (385 million years ago -- Devonian)
  • 4b Redwall Limestone (340 million years ago -- Carboniferous)
  • 4c Surprise Canyon Formation (320 million years ago -- also Carboniferous)
  • 5a through 5d Supai Group (315 to 285 million years ago -- Carboniferous and Permian)
  • 6a Hermit Shale (280 million years ago -- Permian)
  • 6b Coconino Sandstone (275 million years ago -- also Permian)
  • 6c Toroweap Formation (273 million years ago -- also Permian)
  • 6d Kaibab Limestone (270 million years ago -- also Permian)
However, all these dates are based upon theoretical models, which themselves are built largely upon the assumed ages of various fossils found within certain layers in certain places in the world. We have already seen that some of these ages are highly questionable, as evidenced by the recent findings of dinosaur bones supposedly 68 million years old but still containing soft tissues including red blood cells.

Another famous piece of evidence is the discovery in 1938 of the first modern coelacanth, a supposedly ancient fish whose fossils are found in strata dated to 70 million years ago (the Cretaceous period)(Brown 29). Since then, hundreds have been caught -- a casual search of the internet will reveal numerous photographs of smiling fishermen holding them. The image below shows a modern coelacanth on display in the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, a wonderful museum which I loved to visit as a child but which has now been entirely remodeled and absorbed into the California Academy of Sciences at a new location.

Presumably, prior to 1938, if an analyst were to suggest that a Hindu legend was referring to a living coelacanth trapped in a lake during human memory, he would be laughed out of the room, because the presence of coelacanth fossils in Cretaceous layers (the same period in which Triceratops and Tyrannousaurus Rex fossils are found) which are declared to be 70 million years old means that they were ancient creatures. The fact that the coelacanths of today show no evolutionary change over a span of time that scientists declare was sufficient for dinosaurs to evolve into chickens poses yet another problem for the conventional paradigm.

The fact is that the conventional explanation for the origin and dating of the sedimentary layers of the geologic column is flawed. If it were an investment thesis for a stock in which you were going to invest a million dollars, and as many red flags as have already been mentioned above popped up during your due diligence, you would have to question whether you really wanted to commit a million dollars to that investment. And yet the conventional model of stratigraphy underlies almost all of modern geology and modern Darwinian theory.

As you might expect if you have been reading this blog for any period of time, the hydroplate theory of Walt Brown provides an alternative explanation for the origin of the strata, and one which is supported by the principles of physics. As we have mentioned before, the existence of fossils at all argues for unusual events that are not seen in normal conditions -- events such as rapid burial under some sort of sealant, such as saturated mud or soil, to prevent decomposition by scavengers and ultimately by bacteria (which eventually decomposes even bone).

Such conditions would have been present if the events suggested in the hydroplate theory took place -- the violent eruption of high-pressure water from beneath the crust would have eroded thousands of tons of sediments as it escaped, and this material would have covered the earth in the flood that followed. Dr. Brown explains that during the flood, a process known as liquefaction would have sorted the sediments into layers, leaving the record that we see around the world today.

Liquefaction refers to the process in which water rises through sediment particles due to a change in pressure. It can be caused by wave action in the ocean, as well as by earthquakes. Dr. Brown uses the example of a box full of rocks, so full that you cannot quite put the lid on it. If you shake the box, the rocks will settle into a denser arrangement, allowing you to close the lid. If the box were filled with water and shaken, the rocks would still settle and fall towards the bottom of the box, but as they fell, the water below them would have to get out of the way, and it would flow upwards. At the uppermost layers, the upward pressure of the water would be strong enough to float the rocks at the top that aren't heavy enough to counter the upward flow.

This process is seen in earthquakes, during which liquefaction can cause solid ground to become mush and buildings to fall over (see for example this YouTube video in which a burnt-orange model building falls over due to liquefaction, to the satisfaction of Texas Aggies everywhere). It was also evident during the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which piles of mush forced up to the surface by liquefaction littered streets and yards throughout the area. For a more frightening look at the action of liquefaction, see the YouTube video below taken during some of the powerful earthquakes that have been shaking Japan since the March 11 earthquake.

note: since publication of this post, that excellent video has been removed from YouTube for some reason. Here is a different one which contains some of the same footage.

In the ocean floor, liquefaction takes place due to wave action, as waves and then troughs pass over the sand particles beneath. Dr. Brown explains how liquefaction would have sorted the tons of sediments underneath the waters during a global flood event:
Water flowing up through a bed of sediments with enough velocity will lift and support each sedimentary particle with water pressure. Rather than thinking of water flowing up through the sediments, think of the sediments falling down through a very long column of water. Slight differences in density, size, or shape of adjacent particles will cause them to fall at slightly different speeds. Their relative positions will change until the water's velocity drops below a certain value or until nearly identical particles are adjacent to each other so they fall at the same speed. This sorting produces the layering so typical in sedimentary rocks. 141 (emphasis in original).
There is extensive geological evidence that this is what took place to create the layers we see today. Dr. Brown also explains how the same hydrodynamic forces would tend to sort fossils as well.

Obviously, the origin of layers is incredibly important to the conclusions one draws about virtually everything in geology. If the layers were created rapidly in a catastrophic flood, this fact undermines all kinds of assertions that are confidently handed out in textbooks, movies, and in displays at national parks.

We have already seen that there are good reasons to believe that the Grand Canyon itself was created rapidly as a result of catastrophic events. There are valid reasons to question whether the layers found in the Grand Canyon and elsewhere around the world were not created as a result of the same global event.