June 30, 2017 | William Hoesch

Ten Evidences at Grand Canyon for a Global Flood

Geologist Bill Hoesch summarizes powerful geological evidences that support the Genesis account of a global flood.

On the occasion of Dr Andrew Snelling’s victory against discrimination by the National Park Service (see 5/11/17), we thought it would be worthwhile to learn about some of the evidence that convinces him and other creation geologists that the Grand Canyon cannot be millions of years old, but must have been carved rapidly by a catastrophic flood like the one described in Genesis. In this first contributed post by another creation geologist (who is currently leading a tour group at the canyon), William Hoesch lists ten arguments for a young canyon that he uses in presentations. Bill has been on many canyon expeditions since the 1980s. This list should not be considered exhaustive, but each point deserves thoughtful consideration, because visitors to Grand Canyon are never told about these evidences by the park rangers, park literature, and most tour guides. —Ed.

Grand Canyon from Yavapai Point, by David Coppedge

The Genesis Flood and Grand Canyon: Ten Geological Reasons to Believe

by Bill Hoesch

A world-destroying Flood must have left a mark on the earth.  The following ten truth-claims are brief generalizations that refer primarily to the 4,000-foot-thick section of strata in Grand Canyon, from the base of the Tapeats Sandstone to the top of the Kaibab Limestone.  Each is significant, but collectively they offer a compelling testimony for the Flood.  In Grand Canyon is:

  1. …a record of death, not life. Grand Canyon fossils are mostly a jumbled hash of broken and transported shellfish debris.  Evidence for in-situ “fossil communities” of organisms is not strong. Animal tracks and prints preserved as trace-fossils are no proof of “normal” life conditions but may have been marks left by creatures in the process of being buried alive if not in their final death throes.[1]  Dead animals are not entering the fossil record in any widespread fashion today; why was the past so different?     
  1. …a record of ocean above continent. Ocean-derived sediment of the Sauk mega-sequence[2] rests blanket-like on Grand Canyon basement rocks.  The buoyancy of continental crust relative to oceanic crust makes such flooding a difficult if not an extraordinary task,[3] yet it has clearly happened in the past.  Nothing comparable to the Sauk mega-sequence is found in the modern or recent sedimentary record.             
  1. …an extraordinarily widespread Sedimentary Record. Individual rock bodies such as the Tapeats Sandstone and Redwall Limestone are each hundreds of feet thick, water-deposited, and rich in marine fossils.  They extend as sheet-like deposits across most of North America and beyond.  In fact, they show only minor variation in texture, composition, and fossil content across major portions of other continents as well.[4]  Such a worldwide phenomenon demands a sufficiently global cause.
  1. …a catastrophic[5] sedimentary record. Rapid burial is indicated in the fossils, bedding, and sedimentology of Grand Canyon strata.  Exceptional fossil preservation, especially in the absence of obvious anoxic indicators, implies rapid burial.[6] Cross-laminated bedding in marine and non-marine strata alike implies rapid sand accumulation.[7]  Even in the “tranquil” Redwall Limestone there is at least one six-foot-thick bed with billions of nautiloids trapped in a (subsea) sandy debris flow of regional extent.[8]  Evidence demanding a “slow and gradual” origin for Grand Canyon strata is hard to find.[9] All appears catastrophic.
  1. …a singular record of global-scale erosion. At the base of the Tapeats Sandstone is an erosion-surface without parallel in the entire rock record.  Called the Great Unconformity, it also marks the advance of ocean on top of continent on a global scale.  An agent of tsunami-like intensity apparently scoured the earth to a flat surface before the marine Tapeats Sandstone came to rest on it.[10]

    Volunteer points to Great Unconformity, as Dr Andrew Snelling and Tom Vail look on. Photo by David Coppedge, June 2008

  1. …a record of long-distance sediment transport. The bulk of the sand comprising the upper 2,000 feet of Grand Canyon strata is derived from sources in the Appalachian region, implying trans-continental transport of tens-of-thousands of cubic miles of sand.[11]  This is completely without precedent in the modern world.
  1. …a timeless rock record. In Grand Canyon are multiple, dateable rock bodies that are ideally suited for testing of radioisotope dating techniques.  When rocks dated by different methods yield discordant age-dates, and when rocks of radically different relative-age yield numeric ages that are roughly comparable, skepticism is justified.  The question of whether any Grand Canyon rock has been successfully dated remains a valid one.[12]  A deliberate neglect of data is required to believe in “deep time.”
  1. …a record of relentless sedimentation. Breaks in sedimentation (unconformities) of enormous duration are interpreted not measured in the 4,000-foot-thick Paleozoic section of Grand Canyon.  Among the ten or more breaks that are each alleged to be a million or more years are some that are as flat as a billiard table for 270 miles.[13]  Why such meager relief on these surfaces?  Grand Canyon strata give every appearance of having accumulated in succession and without major interruption.
  1. …a singular sedimentary record. For the Cambrian Tapeats Sandstone to be bent vertically an alleged 400 million years after first being deposited suggests a less-than-fully lithified condition for the entire 4,000-foot-thick succession.[14]  This is incongruent with so long a timescale, yet would be expected if these strata were the product of a recent world-covering flood.
  1. …a remarkable linguistic record of a global flood. Native American tribes of the region, with few exceptions, have flood accounts as part of their cultural tradition.[15]  Is there a historical reason?

[1] The case for subaqueous vertebrate “escape tracks” in the Coconino Sandstone remains formidable: L.R. Brand & T. Tang, “Fossil vertebrate footprints in the Coconino Sandstone (Permian) of northern Arizona: evidence for underwater origin” (Geology 19:1201-1204, 1991).

[2] The Sauk mega-sequence is the first of three major pulses of sediment represented in these Grand Canyon strata. L.L. Sloss, “Sequences in the cratonic interior of North America” (Geol Soc. America Bull., v. 74, p. 93-114, 1963).

Space Shuttle view of Grand Canyon

[3] Average density of oceanic crust is 3.0 g/cc; continental crust is much less: 2.85 g/cc.

[4] D.V. Ager, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record (John Wiley, New York), 1973.

[5] A geologic catastrophe is defined as an event of high energy and short duration.

[6] Crinoid fossils in the Redwall Limestone include some “exceptionally well-preserved external molds of calyces,” which demand extremely rapid burial.  History of the Redwall Limestone in Northern Arizona, E.D. McKee and R.G. Gutschick (Geol. Soc. Am. Memoir 114, Boulder, Colorado, 1969, p. 49) and “Echinoderm taphonomy, taphofacies, and lagerstatten,” C.E. Brett, et al. (Paleontological Society Papers, 3: 147-190, 1997).

[7] Large scale cross-bedding of sand-to-pebble-sized bioclastic debris is found in two of the four Redwall Limestone members. Strong underwater currents are implied, yet these bear striking resemblance to cross-beds in other Grand Canyon strata that are claimed to be of terrestrial origin: McKee & Gutschick, History of the Redwall Limestone (p. 111), and G.H. Billingsley, Geologic Map of the Grand Canyon 30’ x 60’ Quadrangle, Coconino and Mohave Counties, Northwestern Arizona, (U.S. Geological Survey I-2688, Reston, VA).

[8] S.A. Austin and K.P. Wise, “Regionally extensive mass kill of large orthocone nautiloids, Redwall Limestone (Lower Mississippian), Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona” (Geological Society of America—2002 Annual Meeting, Paper no. 187-4.), and S.A. Austin, “Nautiloid Mass Kill and Burial Event, Redwall Limestone (Lower Mississippian), Grand Canyon Region, Arizona and Nevada” in R.L. Ivey (ed.) Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, 2003), pp. 55–99.

[9] This is a kind of slowness that strains even uniformitarian models; after major unconformities are accounted for an average rate of sedimentation is estimated in the hundredths of a millimeter per year.

[10] The Great Unconformity is a worldwide erosion surface and in Grand Canyon it separates the layered Tapeats Sandstone (base of the Sauk mega-sequence) from the non-layered Precambrian rocks beneath.

[11] G.E. Gehrels, et al., “Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology of Paleozoic strata in the Grand Canyon, Arizona

(Lithosphere 3:183-200, 2011).

[12] A good skeptical review of radioisotope techniques including problems in dating Grand Canyon rocks is found in A.A. Snelling, Earth’s Catastrophic Past, Volume 2 (Institute for Creation Research: Dallas, p. 797-864).

[13] Maximum relief on any of these erosion surfaces is 400 feet.  Compare this to 29,000 feet in the modern world.


Examples of folded strata at various points in Grand Canyon. Photos by David Coppedge.

Fractures, minor faults, and apparent flexural slip reported in these tight folds does nothing to preclude a soft-strata origin.  The Tapeats Sandstone is quartzitic in part, which means it withstands bending about as well as a ceramic pot endures a hammer blow: evidence for grain breakage ought to be everywhere.  The existing brittle failure indicators have not been shown to be so volumetrically abundant as to account for the tight fold geometry, and may be incidental or even post-date (in part) the folding event.  Flexural slippage, if confirmed, demands that folded units differ in shear strength, not that they be fully lithified.  Ductile thickening by 25% of the Redwall Limestone is documented in other Grand Canyon folds, and implies flowage of material over hundreds of meters distance: “Development of monoclines: Part I. Structure of the Palisades Creek branch of the East Kaibab monocline, Grand Canyon, Arizona,” Ze’ev Reches (Geological Society of America Memoir 151, p. 235-270, 1977).

[15]  A Hualapai flood-story depicts a world-destroying flood, 45 days of rain, a bird with grass in its mouth, and a dispersion of peoples that followed: Paul Talieje, “Wikahme,” in Leanne Hinton and Lucille Watahomogie (eds) Spirit Mountain: An Anthology of Yuman Story and Song (University of Arizona Press: Tucson, 1984, p. 15–42).

Bill Hoesch is a geologist, speaker and tour guide working with Logos Research Associates. See his Author Profile.


Grand Canyon from Mather Point, by David Coppedge

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