August 27, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Geological Processes Can Be Rapid

For those trained to think in millions of years, these geological processes should sound surprising.

Why should geological change take a long time? We know from experience that some things don’t change during our lifetimes: mountain ranges we’ve seen that look the same since we grew up, beaches we have visited for decades, national parks and the like. Some earth formations have not changed since ancient times, we know from ruins and from written documents. This does not mean that the formation of these structures had to be slow and gradual. Every once in awhile, scientists report processes that are extremely rapid—some occurring within a day. Other processes are hard to imagine taking millions of years. Take a look at these examples:

UNDERWATER VOLCANO

Vast ‘pumice raft’ found drifting through Pacific Ocean (BBC News). Watch the video clip in this article. A couple sailing their boat from Australia to Fiji found themselves surrounded by rocks: floating pumice, enough to cover 20,000 football fields. They couldn’t even see the water. It “rocked” their boat, making a grinding sound. What happened? A volcano had erupted on the sea floor, releasing vast quantities of the stuff. It looked like the whole sea surface had turned to land. It didn’t, of course; the pumice will eventually disperse and sink.

On the bright side, if the pumice raft floats in the right direction, it might resupply the Great Barrier Reef with surface material on which new algae and coral can grow, Live Science says. Over the last 3 years, the famous reef has suffered the most catastrophic “bleaching” ever seen. Since pumice can carry barnacles and corals, it could “restock” the reef, scientists say.

Pumice rafts are formed when an underwater volcano erupts, releasing large chunks of lava that are full of holes and cavities,  making it easy for the raft to float, according to the Earth Observatory…

Pumice rafts are often teeming with sea life, such as new barnacles and corals, Scott Bryan, a professor of geology and geochemistry at Queensland University of Technology, told CNN. Bryan reported in a 2012 study that these rocky rafts can be a way to redistribute life across the ocean.

If Bryan is correct with this recent idea, sea life could be distributed worldwide in short order. It would not take millions of years, because underwater volcanoes are not that rare. A particularly large eruption was detected in 2018 (see 17 Jan 2018).

The Dead Sea has been shrinking about a meter per year. The shores now have deep gullies and sinkholes. Photo: DFC

THE DEAD SEA

Why Is It ‘Snowing’ Salt in the Dead Sea? (Live Science). Salt crystals are precipitating at a rapid rate in the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth (1,300 feet below sea level), and collecting on the bottom. Geologists have figured out what makes the salt “snow” downward in the vast salt lake. It’s a process unique to the Dead Sea. Mindy Waisberger explains:

A mysterious underwater “snowfall” of salt is falling and accumulating far below the surface of the Dead Sea.

For decades the already-salty Dead Sea has been slowly getting saltier as its fresh water steadily evaporates. And the behavior of some of this excess salt seems to defy the laws of physics. As expected, plenty of salt collects near the sea’s surface, buoyed up by cooler water below. But a steady supply of salt also inexplicably travels steadily downward, piling up at the sea bottom. 

Recently, scientists cracked this long-standing mystery. They found that almost undetectable disturbances in the upper layers of water create so-called salt fingers that extend into the cool water, carrying salt deeper than it would normally be expected to go.

One has to ask how long this process could go on. The Dead Sea has “been around for thousands of years,” the article mentions (interestingly, not “millions”). With evaporation increasing, why is it not a dry hard pan of salt by now?

“Together these small fingers generate a tremendous amount of salt flux,” lead study author Raphael Ouillon, a UCSB mechanical engineer, said in a statement.

Over decades, the salty snow in the Dead Sea has accumulated significantly, Meiburg said.

“These deposits are about 4 meters [13 feet] thick today, and their thickness is growing at a rate of about 10 centimeters [4 inches] per year,” he said in the email to Live Science.

A simple calculation shows the current salt layer could accumulate in just 400 years, although the rate of accumulation might not be linear. But even if it were 100 times slower, it would fall short of one million years, let alone billions. The article claims that other very thick salt deposits on earth might have been built this way. But without being able to observe those forming, that’s only a guess. Other hypotheses can explain vast salt deposits by different, more rapid processes than evaporation.

GEOTHERMAL REVISIONS

Yellowstone’s newest thermal area: An up-close and personal visit! (USGS). Geologists found a new thermal area emerging within one year. The backcountry thermal area killed trees and bleached the soil white. Some parts became so hot they turned the bottoms of fallen trees into charcoal.

There was no water discharging from the new thermal area, but there was an arch-shaped core of warm ground, 70-80°C at the surface, that was covered in fallen trees. This zone was surrounded by cooler ground that was also littered with recently fallen trees. Within the warmest area, there were steam emissions from several points, and sulfur crystals lined some of the steaming areas. The ground temperature in these fumaroles was 92°C (198°F)—the boiling temperature at that elevation (about 8000 feet or 2500 meters). Throughout this zone, just 5-10 cm below the surface, the temperatures were consistently boiling.

While the Yellowstone caldera is known for its dynamic changes, the scientists were a bit surprised: “These observations raise many questions about the formation and evolution of the thermal area,” they say. Some features, like the large geyser cones, were once thought to take tens of thousands of years or more to form. T. Scott Bryan, author of The Geysers of Yellowstone (4th ed. 2008), shows how a correction to that dating became necessary. Discussing Castle Geyser, which has one of the largest cones, he says,

Sign at Giant Geyser with its 12-foot cone says thousands of years, not millions. Photo by DFC, 2015.

Castle’s large cone suggests a great age, but that appearance might be deceiving. Age dating of the broad geyserite mound beneath the cone, using a dating process only recently developed in New Zealand, implies that the cone itself formed in not more than 10,400 years and likely in less than 8,800 years. (page 59)

That’s stated as an upper limit. It is certainly conceivable that the cone is actually younger. Heightened splashing activity after the last eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano could  be expected to have built the cone faster. That could also be true of the other large cones, like White Dome and Lone Star, which splash water above their rims frequently. One might even ask why there are so many frequently-erupting geysers with small cones if they have existed for tens or hundreds of thousands of years.

ROCKFALL

Hiker captures massive rockfall that injured three in Zion (KSTU, Salt Lake City). Last Saturday, a huge rockfall in Zion National Park was caught on video by someone a safe distance away. It injured three, almost covered a bus, and carpeted much of the valley with dust and sand. We reported another big one in Zion just three years ago (8 Nov 2016). Could the canyon walls endure hundreds of millions of years?

OTHER RAPID PROCESSES

In addition to those listed above, which surprised researchers, consider rapid changes that can occur through:

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Floods
  • Meteors
  • Kimberlites (see 19 Sept 2012)
  • Tectonic rifts (see 9 Dec 2005)

Indeed, the question of age could be inverted: given how quickly some formations have been observed to change, how could other formations be as old as claimed?

Don Batten at Creation Ministries International has put together a handy list, “Age of the earth: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe” at the convenient address, creation.com/age-of-the-earth. Scan over this list and be amazed at how much evidence, from fields as diverse as astronomy, geology, biology, genetics, and anthropology dispute the moyboy mindset. If even a tenth of those 101 evidences were proved indisputable by skeptics, it would bring Darwin’s long ages crashing down, along with the evolutionary story that needs the time. Batten sources each one with previous CMI articles that are referenced with mostly secular sources. People need some deprogramming from the myths evolutionists have taught in schools and national parks.

 

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