Geological Formations/Genesis Flood

© 1996 Frank Steiger; permission granted for retransmission.

Creation Position

All geological formations and fossil deposits were laid down during the Genesis flood as the result of water erosion and deposition, volcanic activity, and tectonic activity. Although it is generally true that different geological strata can be characterized by the fossils they contain, this can be explained by hydraulic sorting and the relative mobility of different species in escaping the rising flood waters. For example, dinosaurs, being slow moving, were among the first to perish and and be covered by flood deposits. It is for that reason that dinosaur fossils are found in lower elevation strata than mammals, which are faster moving and more intelligent.

The earth's coal and petroleum deposits were laid down during the flood period. Coal deposits were created as the result of large numbers of uprooted trees being "rafted" by the flood waters and deposited in a particular location.

This same rafting phenomenon is responsible for the multiple layers of petrified trees in the Specimen Ridge formation of Yellowstone National Park. This rafting deposition mechanism is based on the assumption that the trees were uprooted from their original locations by the violent action of flood waters, yet kept enough soil in their roots to generally maintain them in an upright position until washed ashore on a sea level land mass, covering large areas with upright, uprooted trees. After each occurrence, the whole area was covered by volcanic ash, whereupon either the land mass sank, or the sea rose, to maintain the surface at or near sea level. This process repeated itself 18 times in the course of the one year flood period to form a deposit 2000 feet thick.

The evolution position that geological strata form a consistent sequence is contradicted by the fact that geological formations are often found that are not in the order predicted by their fossil content!

Evolution Position

Creationism assumes, with no justification whatever, that tectonic changes like mountain formation, continental drift, and ocean trench formation took place with extreme rapidity, even though all the evidence shows that these kinds of changes take place very slowly. The Book of Genesis says nothing whatever concerning catastrophic changes like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, seismic waves, and high winds. It merely says the waters prevailed and then receded. The creationist model is based neither on the Bible nor on observable natural processes.

A typical North American erosion formation will consist of layers of rock strata as deep as a mile or more and covering an area of hundreds of square miles. Layers of limestone which were clearly formed by the slow deposition of microscopic marine animals are interspersed with sandstone strata which were clearly formed on dry land, as evidenced by fossilized footprints of land animals, and other land animal fossils. Because of erosion, these strata sometimes exist in the form of columns of strata stacked up like pancakes in the same unvarying sequence for each column, as shown in the following photograph:

Flood water, no matter how catastrophic, never carves out vertical walls from solid rock! It is simply not possible that these kinds of formations could have been formed during a one-year period of catastrophic events!

Creationists teach that a gigantic surge of water carved out the Grand Canyon, in a short period of time, from a vast mud deposit which subsequently hardened into layers of stone. This argument does not hold up because:
(1) The Grand Canyon is immense; it is inconceivable that all that material could be removed in a short period of time.
(2) Recently exposed mud deposits have essentially no vertical stability; a trench more than 5 feet deep must be shored to keep it from collapsing. The Grand Canyon is a mile deep and has vertical walls of over a thousand feet in height.
(3) The Grand Canyon formation is cut down into an almost horizontal plateau. How could a surge of water on a horizontal surface attain the velocity to remove all that material? Answer: it could not; it would simply spread out over the plateau.
(4) There is no way that a huge deposit of mud could be transformed into the existing system of dozens of different kinds of rock strata extending in a consistent sequence over hundreds of square miles.

All the evidence indicates that the Grand Canyon was formed over a vast period of time by gradual erosion, with the detritus washed down into the bottom, where it was carried out to a delta by the Colorado River.

The Specimen Ridge formation in Yellowstone National Park consists of a stratigraphic section of 2000 feet in depth which reveals 18 successive layers of petrified forests. In general, each layer is characterized by large numbers of upright tree stumps with embedded root systems. Many of the tree stumps have trunks of considerable height. It is clear that each forest grew to maturity before it was destroyed by volcanic eruption and covered with volcanic material. The cumulative time for each of these 18 forests to grow to maturity could not be less than hundreds of years. This formation could not have been formed as the result of catastrophic changes taking place in a single year!

Many very tall mountains are composed of sedimentary rock. The summit of Mount Everest is composed of marine limestone containing fossils of ocean bottom dwelling crinoids. Angular unconformities are common: one set of layers of sediments is greatly tilted, the exposed surface eroded flat, and a second set of layers deposited on top. Creationism provides no reasonable explanation of how all of these formations could have been deposited by turbulent flood waters in a single year, as claimed.

The flood scenario does not explain why some mountains, like the Appalachians, display extensive erosion, while others, like the Sierra Nevada range, do not. The creationism assertion that all geological strata were formed during the one year flood period does not provide any reasonable explanation for the formation of deposits of deep layers of solid salt interbedded with layers of solid rock.

Although it is true that strata are occasionally found that are out of sequence, the physical evidence is unmistakable that this is the result of older strata being overthrust over younger strata, or being folded over younger strata.

The Genesis account states that the Ark was waterproofed with hydrocarbon pitch, yet creationism claims that petroleum deposits were not in existence at that time, being formed during the flood process.

The creationist position that the fossil record sequence can be explained by the relative agility of different species in escaping the rising flood waters does not stand up to critical thinking. Not all dinosaurs were clumsy and slow moving. Many, if not most, were swift runners. Many were aquatic, the reptilian counterparts of dolphins and seals. Some had the ability to fly. On the other hand, some mammals, such as tree sloths, are very slow moving. Since the fossils of flowering plants are never found in deeper strata, how did they manage to escape the rising flood waters?

When typhoons strike low-lying areas, people and cattle are often killed by the thousands, yet creationists postulate that cattle and human beings all managed to escape to higher ground during a catastrophic event far surpassing anything the world has ever experienced during the past two thousand years!

The fossil record consistently shows marine invertebrate animals and non-flowering plants near the bottom of the strata sequence, followed by marine vertebrates, followed by amphibians, followed by reptiles, followed by birds, then mammals, and finally primates. There is a consistent and unvarying correlation between strata sequence and fossil content. We never find the fossils of mammals and flowering plants at the bottom of the geological sequence. We never find the fossils of trilobytes and dinosaurs at the top of the geological column. It is impossible to explain this factual information on the basis of hydraulic sorting: many extinct plants and animals have sizes and densities comparable to modern plants and animals.

The only reasonable explanation is that strata were not deposited during a one year period, but rather deposited in succession over a very long period of time, and that the fossils they contain represent the organisms that lived at the time of deposition. From this we can conclude that either God constantly created new creatures ex-nihilo over a period of millions of years; or, that new creatures evolved from primitive ancestors. Evolution concludes that the latter scenario is the most likely.

Biblical chronology places the Genesis flood at around 2250 B.C. The Egyptian written record goes back to 3000 B.C. The great pyramids of Giza were constructed around 2600 B.C. The records from that time on were extensive and detailed. There is no mention at all in the written record of a universal flood, and no evidence that it had ever occurred.

Additional information is available in faq: Problems with a Global Flood