Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just So Stories: The White Cliffs of Albion

As a child growing up, one of my favorite sources of bedtime stories was certainly Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories (the edition linked is the one I had, and still have to this day, although there are other more complete editions -- this one has wonderful illustrations).

Of all these stories, one of my favorites was (and remains) the delightful story of "How the Whale got his Throat," which relates the tale of the shipwrecked Mariner (a man-of-infinite-resource-and-sagacity) who rather unkindly drags a grating (secured by suspenders) into the throat of the Whale as payback for swallowing him, and to prevent it from happening again.

During his sojourn inside the Whale, the shipwrecked Mariner convinces the cetacean (by means of stumping, jumping, bumping, thumping, and dancing hornpipes) to, as he puts it, "Take me to my natal-shore, and the white-cliffs-of-Albion."

By virtue of this detail, and the illustration in the volume I had as a child (which showed the Mariner debarking from the mouth of the Whale onto a beach very much like the one pictured above), I can never think of the white cliffs of Dover without thinking of the story of the Whale (Albion being a poetic name for England with its white cliffs).

The composition of these famous white cliffs, which are deeply meaningful for Englishmen, is chalk, calcium carbonate, which conventional geology informs us consists of several hundred feet of "coccolithophores, single-celled planktonic algae whose skeletal remains sank to the bottom of the ocean and, together with the remains of bottom-living creatures, formed sediments" (see this Wikipedia entry, which basically relates the well-known orthodox explanation).

On the surface, this explanation for the composition of the cliffs of Dover seems plausible (note that the same explanation is given for the geological origin of the cliffs of Normandy which are found on the other side of the Channel and are very similar in composition and size, and which include the famous Pointe du Hoc up which the US Army Rangers led by Colonel James Earl Rudder, Texas A&M Class of 1932, conducted one of the most daring and difficult assaults against the Nazis on D-Day in World War II).

Digging a little deeper, however, as West Point graduate Colonel Walt Brown does in his examination of the evidence supporting his hydroplate theory, reveals serious problems with the conventional explanation.

For one thing, these cliffs occasionally reach heights of 1,000 feet, and yet the conventional theory which posits that all or most of earth's limestone formations are the remains of slowly settling marine skeletons requires shallow seas for these organisms. How could organisms (primarily corals, which cannot grow at depths below about 160 feet) living in shallow seas produce limestone deposits 1,000 feet high (and probably higher, if these cliffs have been eroding for millions of years)?

To explain such a phenomenon, geologists must argue that the seafloor beneath these shallow seas continued to subside lower and lower, at a rate that was just right to allow continued deposits of calcium carbonate for the millions of years required to build up thousand-foot beds of limestone or chalk (limestone is another form of calcium carbonate). This is difficult to argue, especially since, as Dr. Brown argues in his section on the origin of limestone, "the seafloor cannot subside unless the rock below it gets out of the way. That rock would have nowhere to go" (8th ed. page 224).

We have previously discussed how the catastrophic flood described by Dr. Brown would have created the conditions for the slow sinking of the floor of the Pacific at rates that could allow the growth of the coral atolls found there, but these conditions would not have pertained in the vicinity of the Atlantic and the English Channel. Furthermore, massive calcium carbonate deposits are found all over the world, such as in the Grand Canyon (where the Redwall Limestone layer is 400 feet thick) and -- even more dramatically -- in the Bahamas, which consist of massive limestone banks up to six miles thick!

The fact is that there simply is too much limestone on earth to be explained by the marine skeleton theory so favored by conventional uniformitarian geologists. Further, this entire hypothetical mechanism for the creation of organic limestone begs the question of where the organisms got the ingredients for the limestone they created in the first place -- as Dr. Brown explains, the organisms needed inorganic ingredients precipitated in the oceans of the earth to create the limestone that did come from organic sources. In short, Dr. Brown explains that the vast majority of limestone deposits found around the world today come from inorganic sources, and even the organic limestone had its ultimate origins in the inorganic limestone that was dissolved in the sea which was then processed by the corals and other marine life to become organic limestone when their skeletons sank to the seafloor.

Dr. Brown explains, using clear chemical formulas, where this limestone originally came from and why it is found all over the world. He explains that water trapped under great pressure beneath the earth's surface prior to the flood event would have dissolved minerals in the floor and ceiling above and below them, and that rising temperatures prior to the flood event would have caused increasing amounts of limestone and salt to precipitate out of the solution. During the rupture and subsequent flood event, the escaping subterranean water would have swept this limestone to the earth's surface, distributing it widely in great volumes.

Immediately after the flood event, there would have been greater abundance of dissolved limestone in the oceans of the earth, which would have precipitated into the formations we see today. Limestone also forms the cement which bonds most sedimentary rocks in the geological strata worldwide.

In his book, Dr. Brown gives extensive scientific evidence for the conclusion that most limestone found on earth is inorganic and was not produced by marine organisms over millions of years. Further support for this theory comes from the high limestone content found in some meteorites which have hit the earth, which (as we have discussed previously here and here) probably originated from earth during the flood event in the first place, and have now fallen back to earth after some time in space. It is fairly clear that the limestone in these meteorites did not come from abundant marine life in shallow seas.

Based on the evidence, it appears that the conventional explanation for massive limestone and calcium carbonate formations, including the Bahamas Banks and the White Cliffs of Dover and Normandy, resembles a Just So Story, although not as charming as the Just So Stories of Rudyard Kipling.

As difficult as they are to maintain, however, geologists will often prefer their uniformitarian Just So Stories to the alternative of admitting the possibility of a global catastrophe such as the flood described in the hydroplate theory, because catastrophic explanations severely undermine the Darwinian theories which are built upon uniformitarian geology (for more extensive discussion of this connection, see here).

To read more of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories online, follow this link to a table of contents of the 1902 edition with 1902 illustrations (each title in the list is a link to the corresponding story).