June 25, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Geology and Anomaly Are Practically Synonyms

When formations don’t fit established consensus views, can secular geologists, indoctrinated into long ages and gradual change, think outside the box?

Geological “laws” are made to be broken. For any principle a geology student studies at the university, he can almost count on exceptions in the field, because anomalies abound. Dates of rocks can be re-assigned. Effects can be linked to different causes. And some formations are so baffling they defy any simple explanation. Since modern secular geology is closely linked to Darwinian evolution, changes in one field often ripple across to the other. In these articles, we share recent examples of geologists changing their stories.

Grand Canyon Dates Revised Again

Cambrian Sixtymile Formation of Grand Canyon yields new findings (Phys.org). The venerable Grand Canyon, that textbook example of geological principles and long ages, is up for revision again. Geologists at the University of New Mexico realize this will shock some people.

The Great Unconformity in Grand Canyon. In some locales, the Sixtymile Formation appears below the unconformity within the Chuar Group of inclined sedimentary layers. Creation geologist Steve Austin describes it as “composed of sedimentary breccia formed by rapid tectonic disruption and breakage of the underlying, poorly consolidated limestone and shales.” Photo by DFC.

The Grand Canyon is one of the supreme geologic laboratories on Earth and, after about 140 years of geologic investigation, one might think that its secrets have been mostly resolved. This is especially true of the flat-lying layered rocks that are so visible from both rims within Grand Canyon National Park.

Nearly five decades ago, in the late 1970s, was the last time a new formation was discovered and defined in the Grand Canyon with the discovery of the Surprise Canyon Formation. Now, a team of scientists, including The University of New Mexico’s Karl Karlstrom and Laura Crossey, have studied one of the last Grand Canyon strata to be dated – the Sixtymile Formation.

Their research paper, recently published in Nature Geoscience, titled “Cambrian Sauk transgression in the Grand Canyon region redefined by detrital zircons”, found the Sixtymile Formation sandstone to be much younger than previously thought.

In brief, the Sixtymile Formation has graduated from Precambrian to Cambrian. Once dated at 650 Ma (mill-annum, or million years), it is now 148 million years ‘younger’ than previously taught. The uncertainty figure, “508.6 ± 0.5 Ma,” seems ridiculous in light of such a drastic revision.  It’s like claiming your grade point average went from 3.95 to 2.43 ± 0.1. What’s with the 0.1? Was the GPA ever really 3.95 to begin with? The size of the revision swamps the uncertainty value.

A change like that does not occur in isolation; it reassigns fossils and surrounding strata as well. The evolutionary tale has been that a wave of slow-moving water swept over several continents 540 million Darwin Years ago, bringing marine fossils over the Great Unconformity. This wave, called the Sauk Transgression (not a sin, but a moving layer of sediment over land), now has to be re-assigned to a younger age, about 505 million years ago. Anomalous zircons are the cause for the revised date. In order to prevent too much change to the story of the overlying sediments, the geologists are speeding up the wave. Flood, anyone?

“Thus, flooding of the North American continent took place within a geologically short interval between 505 and 500 million years ago – more recently and much more rapidly than previously thought.

Trilobite mass death display, Wyoming Dinosaur Center (DFC)

Mention the Cambrian, and you are likely to hear about one of the most embarrassing facts for Darwinism in the fossil record, the Cambrian Explosion. The new dating scheme adds to the worries for evolutionists by removing a hypothesis that the Sauk Transgression might have triggered the explosion:

To this day, the Cambrian Period (541 to 485 million years ago) remains a geologic enigma: why did animal life become so globally diverse during this time; why were many continents flooded by advancing oceans in a way rarely seen before or after; and was there any relationship between these two unique features of Earth’s history?

Diverse animal life was present 635 million years ago, and trilobites were making hard shells about 521 million years ago such that the new timing data in this paper do not support earlier models that have suggested that marine transgression across the Great Unconformity was a trigger for the onset of the Cambrian “explosion” in the diversity of animal life.

Since the peak of the explosion is considered to be 530 to 525 million Darwin Years ago, an effect cannot precede its cause. It was a silly idea for a cause, anyway. Since when did a wave of moving sediment bring forth new animal body plans? Thinking so is the real Transgression.

Anyway, evolutionists have one less just-so story to tell. Don’t worry; when one just-so story dies, two more spring up to take its place.

Aerial view of Grand Canyon (DFC)

To scientists and non-scientists interested in Grand Canyon geology, the paper redefines Grand Canyon’s rock layers and clarifies the age, nature, and geologically abrupt timescale of flooding of continents by oceans that took place 505-500 million years ago (Tonto Group Sauk II transgression). It shows that this event was later than and hence not the cause for diversification of early animal life but it opens new questions about the causes for early trilobite radiations and extinctions and their punctuated evolution which could they [sic] have been driven by multi-stage Sauk I and II global sea level or ocean chemistry changes.

It was not for naught. The team had fun hiking in the Grand Canyon. Maybe they shared ideas for new just-so stories around the campfire.

“This research, which involved an amazing group of collaborators, and the support of many graduate students, provides a marked revision of classic Grand Canyon stratigraphy by showing that the Sixtymile Formation is not Precambrian, but is middle to late-Cambrian,” said Crossey. “The rapid transgression is interpreted to have been driven by subsidence along the rifted margin and consequent abrupt sea level rise across a subsiding continent.

And so now, despite being so very wrong for over 140 years, the experts tell us we can still trust them.

“None of us were there to witness the changes, but the rocks provide a record of the changes, once we learn how to read them,” added Karlstrom. “Once again, Grand Canyon’s well-exposed geologic laboratory provides breakthroughs of global importance for understanding the history of our planet and the evolution of life.”

They read them wrong the last time. They will probably continue to misread them. How’s that for “understanding the history of our planet and the evolution of life”?

The Oxygen Just-So Story

Speaking of the Cambrian Explosion, the Geological Society of America (GSA) put forth another silly idea in a news release: changing oxygen levels creates new animal body plans. That’s right: just add oxygen, and trilobites will pop into existence. Let the power of suggestion hypnotize you: “Did extreme fluctuations in oxygen, not a gradual rise, spark the Cambrian explosion?” In your imagination, did you see a spark appear, followed by a vision of a trilobite? Meditate again till it does.

Trilobites are the best-known animals from the Cambrian Explosion. Credit: Illustra Media

Ask yourself who went nuts in the story as it’s told:

Five hundred and forty million years ago, during the Cambrian period, life suddenly went nuts. “Blossomed” is far too mild a word: instead, geologists call this sudden diversification an “explosion.” But what exactly sparked the Cambrian explosion?

Now, a new study suggests that wild swings in oxygen levels may have sent life scrambling to adapt, leading to a major burst of diversity. That, says lead author Guangyi Wei of Yale University, challenges the long-held explanation that gradually rising oxygen simply reached a life-fueling tipping point. The study was just published online ahead of print in Geology.

The Dolomite Problem

Dolomite is a very common mineral, calcium magnesium carbonate, CaMg(CO3)2, occurring in crystals and in masses. Did you know it has a problem? Actually, geologists have a problem with it. A paper in PNAS tells you about it and offers hope: “Oxygen isotope composition of the Phanerozoic ocean and a possible solution to the dolomite problem.” If you thought the dolomite problem had been solved, it hadn’t.

Dolomite is abundant in pre-Cenozoic strata but mostly absent from Cenozoic strata. This observation was referred to as the “dolomite problem” and has been attributed to the experimental finding that uptake of Mg2+ by Ca-carbonate minerals is kinetically limited, with a rate that depends strongly on temperature, and is prohibitively slow at average modern Earth-surface temperatures. Because marine temperatures are believed to have been higher during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic compared with the Cenozoic, cooling of marine waters and sediments are hypothesized to have driven a decrease in dolomite formation rate. This interpretation views dolomitization as an early (i.e., shallow sediment column) diagenetic process that was rapid and widespread in pre-Cenozoic marine sediments and slow and rare in Cenozoic and modern settings. The Bahamas platform is an example of a rare modern setting where locally high temperatures and salinities overcome these kinetic barriers and allow dolomite formation.

The findings presented here challenge this model, as they indicate that pre-Cenozoic dolomites mostly formed at temperatures significantly higher than plausible Phanerozoic ocean water or shallow sediment column conditions and commonly grew from isotopically evolved basinal fluids rather than unmodified seawater.

So on they go with a new theory. Since Murphy says that “Every solution breeds new problems,” these geologists have to tackle new questions raised by their proposal: e.g., “An open question is how Mg2+ enters these rocks in the first place.” They also have to get the rocks to undergo deep burial for a protracted time (as far as two kilometers), and then raise them up to mountain heights, like the famous Dolomites in Italy that are almost 11,000 feet high. Good luck doing that in slow-and-gradual ways. Why, then, is dolomite rare in the Cenozoic? “This finding suggests that dolomite is sparse in Cenozoic sediments not because of any peculiarity in their depositional conditions or compositions but simply because they have not yet undergone burial to deep diagenetic settings.” That hasn’t happened for 66 million Darwin Years? Sounds like special pleading to get their hypothesis to work.

Anomalous Navajo Sandstone in Arizona (DFC). Secular uniformitarians say these are petrified sand dunes. Creationists see turbulent flood action. Both have the same data, but view the evidence from different worldview assumptions.

People should know that geology is as full of just-so stories as Darwinism. Most people only hear about modern geology in the confident-looking displays in national parks. If the story of the greatest laboratory on earth, the Grand Canyon, is still being revised, how much more uncertain are theories about other locations? Unless we can see a process taking place before our eyes (e.g., volcanoes, floods, earthquakes) to use as analogues, the past will always be uncertain. Geologists can only piece together ideas and rule out other ideas, but they weren’t there to know. They can invent hypotheses and test some of them with lab tools like flumes, but one never knows if a model covers all the pertinent factors. That’s the advantage of having an eyewitness account. We have eyewitnesses for Creation and The Flood. We don’t have all the details, but those two “golden spikes” can prevent a lot of wasted effort. Read II Peter 3:3-6. Certainly the Biblical explanations make more sense than the “just add oxygen” idea for obtaining over 20 complex animal body plans.

One-sided propaganda on Yavapai Trail

Geology experienced The Great Turning Point in the 1830s, when scientists wanted to ditch the Pentateuch and go for more secular ideas. Charles Lyell led them astray with visions of slow-and-gradual processes explaining everything. His vision of the slow accumulation of small changes over millions of years, which he called uniformitarianism, profoundly influenced Darwin, his friend. Lyell became one of Darwin’s “Four Musketeers” to popularize evolution (even though Lyell had problems with natural selection’s atheistic baggage). Charlie & Charlie led geology and biology astray ever since, and only brave mavericks like Derek Ager have had the courage to doubt uniformitarianism (ICR). Nobody in the secular crowd has the courage to doubt millions of years, though, because their bosom buddies, the Darwinians, need all the time they can get.

Creation geologists, loosed from the shackles of millions-of-years in the geologic column, are free to think outside Lyell’s box and entertain catastrophic processes. They publish, too, but on a separate track in their own peer-reviewed journals, like the Journal of Creation and Creation Research Society Quarterly, not because they don’t have the credentials (several have PhD’s in geology or geophysics), but because the totalitarian secular materialists refuse to publish anything that doesn’t pay homage to the Darwin idol. At least you have a choice over the same old Charlie & Charlie fare. One place where you can listen to lectures by Snelling, Austin and other creation geologists is at IsGenesisHistory.com. Check it out. See what you’re missing.


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  • tlewis3348 says:

    Thank you for this! It seems that most believers in biblical creation conflate uniformitarianism with evolutionism and the work of Lyell with the work of Darwin. As a result, they seem to think that if we disprove evolution, them we will have also disproved the millions of years hypothesis. But today we see the evolution hypothesis completely bereft of evidence at this point, and although there are some who are willing to about that the evolutionary theory has serious problems, it is extraordinary rare for someone to question the millions of years theory. Furthermore, there are many Christian organizations who are willing to question evolution, but few question the naturalistic timeline put forward by the scientific establishment.

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