September 24, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Navajo Sandstone Dates Are Incoherent

Can concretions really be 190 million years younger than the rock in which they are embedded?

Travel throughout the Colorado Plateau, from Utah to Nevada, and you will likely see prominent outcrops of Navajo Sandstone.  This vast deposit, thickest in Zion National Park, is thought to have originated from sand in the Appalachian Mountains (9/15/03).  It varies in color from white to dark red, with shades of cream, pink, tan, and even yellow or purple.

Navajo sandstone at The Wave, Arizona

Navajo sandstone at The Wave, Arizona, by David Coppedge

Navajo sandstone is often accompanied by “moqui marbles” on its surface: rounded iron pebbles that have eroded out of the sandstone.  Known as concretions, these pebbles, secular geologists tell us, have a completely different history than the rock that encases them.  Becky Oskin on Live Science tells the tale:

Now, a new study reveals that the moqui marbles are no more than 25 million years old — a sharp contrast to the 190-million-year-old Navajo Sandstone. Marbles scattered on sandstone slopes in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are only 2 million to 5 million years old. And on Arizona’s Paria Plateau, the marbles’ iron oxide rind is as young as 300,000 years old, researchers report in the September 2014 issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin.

What led to such a strange conclusion?  In short, radiometric dating:

The moqui marbles’ precise ages come from a radioactive clock. The iron oxide minerals contain traces of radioactive uranium and thorium, and these decay by expelling helium. Tallying the elements reveals the time since the minerals formed. The innovative technique may help resolve different models of how the stone spheres formed. Scientists agree that the iron comes from the bone-white Navajo Sandstone layers, stripped bare of their mineral paint by percolating groundwater. A subtle film of hematite, or iron oxide, colors the iconic red cliffs and canyons.

Chemical reactions fused the moqui marbles with iron, but the details haven’t been settled…

The article tries to present a story about how the concretions could be so much younger than the rock.  Presumably—even though the parent rock was filled with iron, coloring much of it red with iron oxide—the concretions formed much later as groundwater saturated the sandstone at various times.  According to the quote above, the concretions date by tens of millions of years apart, depending on what part of the plateau they are found.  The groundwater saturated the sand grains with iron again, creating the seeds of concretions.  The article doesn’t explain how, but the water must have also brought the uranium and thorium for dating the concretions so vastly different from the rest of the formation.

Another geologist thinks that microbes created the concretions.  The article is cluttered with irrelevant details such as Indian beliefs about the spiritual power of the moqui marbles, and speculations about whether similar-looking concretions on Mars might be evidence of life.  The paper made the cover story of the Sept. 2014 GSA Bulletin.

Navajo sandstone in Valley of Fire, Nevada

Navajo sandstone in Valley of Fire, Nevada, by David Coppedge

Colorado surprise:  Another “astonishing” and “deeply perplexing” sandstone formation has just been discovered in Colorado’s front range, the GSA reported.  Called the Tava Formation, it appears unique: a sandstone intruded into granite, instead of the other way around.  Moreover, they’re saying this “utterly uncommon” formation dates from ~750 million years ago, “which was not known to be represented in the Colorado Rockies: the Cryogenian Period.”  Geologists appear curious how such a sandstone could have formed: “There is evidence that the process of formation involved very large earthquakes, or possibly another type of catastrophic event, causing liquefaction of sediment,” they surmise.  Some creation scientists like Dr. Walter Brown have pointed to liquefaction as a possible mechanism for rapid formation of certain geological features.

Do you see what outrageous things the standard geological dating system requires one to believe?  Secular geologists are so wedded to their column, with its millions-of-years dates, they refuse to reconsider it.  All anomalies must be fitted into the scheme, no matter how absurd.  So here’s the scheme: sand blew over from Appalachia, creating one of the largest sand fields in the world.  Then it hardened into stone.  165 million years pass by, and no change (except uplifts of 1.2 miles, etc.).  Think of how long that much time is!  No concretions till after that?  No groundwater?  Dinosaurs come and go, and mammals evolve from shrews to elephants, before the next step?  Then, water from somewhere starts percolating through the sandstone, bringing iron and uranium, which decays into thorium and lead.  Other parts of the formation have to wait another 20 to 25 million more years to get saturated.  The process occurs over vast regions, from Utah to Nevada.

If you live in the western United States, go out and look at the Navajo Sandstone.  It’s some of the most colorful and amazing rock in the country (see Editor’s photos).  Parts of Zion and the Paria Plateau have the most incredible examples of crossbedding, multiple unconformities and soft-sediment deformation to be found anywhere.  In some places, the rock erodes wafer thin.  Some parts of the strata have dinosaur tracks in them.  Moqui marbles are very common, sitting loosely on top of the sandstone.  The exact same features—concretions and all—can be found far to the west in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.  Did the same groundwater processes affect that large an area?  In many places, there are alternating red-and-white color stripes as bold as you see on an American flag.  State park signs admit that geologists can’t figure out how the colors were made.  There’s also major confusion at Valley of Fire about a far “older” formation lying on top of the Navajo sandstone (called Aztec sandstone in Nevada, but the same formation).

We bring you this story in hopes that some of you will “think outside the box” and not accept the experts’ say-so about how these rocks formed, and how old they are, even though the story is presented as “Live Science” with all the authority of the Geological Society of America behind it.  Some things just don’t make sense.  None of these geologists were there to watch 190 million years pass by.  Who are you going to believe: the “experts” or your own eyes?


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