September 14, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Did a Global Flood Move Rocks Across Continents?  No, uh…

Paper View Sept 14, 2010 — Geologists were baffled.  Something moved rocks up to 3,000 miles across whole continents.  They found evidence in Asia and also in America.  How on earth could that happen?  Their list of explanations omitted one possibility: the transporting power of water.  Maybe it’s because it would have implied a global flood like the world had never seen.
    An international team publishing in the GSA Bulletin wrote about “Extraordinary transport and mixing of sediment across Himalayan central Gondwana during the Cambrian�Ordovician.”1  They found similar detrital zircon samples across a wide swath of the Himalayan foothills, covering “great distances” of at least 3000 km and perhaps as much as 5000 km.  They used assumptions to rule out time as a factor, suggesting that this “extraordinary” transport of material occurred at one time.  What does it imply?  “In any case, by examining samples within a small window of well-constrained depositional ages from across the length of the Himalayan range, our data not only indicate extraordinary transport distances, but a high degree of sediment mixing and homogenization.”  They emphasized it again: “In this regard, both transport distances and sediment mixing within early Gondwana are extraordinary for the geologic record.”  It likely applies to “much, if not the whole of Gondwana” (the hypothetical supercontinent that broke up into today’s continents).
    The Himalayas are not the only location.  They referred to evidence published earlier that assigns the origin of many of the Grand Canyon sediments to the Appalachian mountains thousands of kilometers to the east (09/15/2003).  Again, extraordinary long-distance transport mechanisms must have been in operation.  What could possibly do it?  Their short list of possible mechanisms omits one that creation geologists would probably be saying is intuitively obvious: a global flood.

The causes of such a pattern might be unique to time and place, and may include a combination of (1) lack of continental vegetation, (2) clustering of continents near the equator, (3) increased continental weathering rates, (4) widespread uplift and erosion associated with regionally extensive and relatively synchronous orogenesis [mountain-building] recording supercontinental amalgamation, and (5) production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems.

A closer look reveals that none of those mechanisms contradicts a global flood; in fact, they would each appear to be consequences of one.  What else would produce any one or a combination of those causes?


1.  Myrow, Hughes et al, “Extraordinary transport and mixing of sediment across Himalayan central Gondwana during the Cambrian�Ordovician,” Geological Society of America Bulletin Sept. 2010, v. 122 no. 9-10 p. 1660-1670, doi: 10.1130/B30123.1.

Composite explanations are generally avoided in science because of Ockham’s Razor: “plurality should not be posited without necessity.”  If a scientist explains the yard being wet by saying, “It might have rained, or the sprinklers might have come on, or a water-spraying truck drove by,” the power of the explanation is decreased.  Here, the scientists admitted that something extraordinary – something possibly unique in the geologic record – occurred to move sediments so far at one time.  (Notice, incidentally, this amounts to a rejection of uniformitarianism.)  Nothing like that is seen happening today.  Special pleading is also to be avoided when explaining things scientifically, but isn’t that what they just did?  They did not explain with reference to natural law and observable, repeatable processes.  They said, essentially, that an extraordinary one-time effect might have been caused by five things or any combination of them.  On the surface of it, the explanation sounds weak.
    A scientific explanation is strengthened when a single cause explains multiple effects.  Suppose your yard is wet, some objects are knocked over and a swath of wetness covers several homes in a line.  Which explanation is better?  (A) House #1 turned the sprinklers on, house #2 had a watering truck drive by, house #3 got rained on and house #4 had an above-ground pool that leaked, and the houses just happened to be in a line.  (B) There was a brush fire nearby and a water-dropping plane doused the area.
    A global flood would produce all 5 effects that the geologists listed as causes: (1) a lack of continental vegetation, because it had been stripped away at the onset of the flood; (2) clustering of continents near the equator, because creationists generally agree the continents split apart as the fountains of the great deep opened; (3) weathering rates increased dramatically (well, duh); (4) widespread uplift and erosion associated with regionally extensive and synchronous mountain building occurred (because the mountain ranges formed as a consequence of the dividing continents, and erosion was intense); and (5) production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems, because the new mountains caused dramatic runoff as the waters receded, transporting soft sediments over vast distances.  One more for good measure: a global flood would explain the “high degree of sediment mixing and homogenization” of sediments they observed.
    Notice that the secular geology explanation cannot account for increased weathering rates, widespread erosion, homogenization, synchronous mountain building and large-scale river systems (cf. 04/30/2009, “Are Secular Geologists Ready to Consider a Global Flood?”).  In the current example, the composite, special-pleading scenario in the paper leaves much to be desired as a scientific explanation.  Biblical creationists can point to a single cause that explains all the effects.  They have eyewitness testimony, too: Yes, uh… Noah.

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Categories: Bible and Theology

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