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River Channels Buried Deep in the Geologic Column

Copyright 2003 G.R. Morton  This can be freely distributed so long as no changes are made and no charges are made.

Note to the reader, this post is not exactly as laid out on the Theology Web. I put three other pictures of channels with the first one. Editorial corrections were also made.
River channels 1600 feet down
It seems that none of the YECs are trying to explain the geological data I am presenting. I have been told that young-earth creationism had the answers. Attached is a picture extracted from seismic of a river channel in Baylor county Texas. The following is from Foundation, Fall and Flood, (DMD Publishers, 1999), p. 46

"In recent years, three-dimensional seismic data has become very common in the oil industry. Much like a CAT scan of the earth, fine details of the earth's structure can now be viewed in three-dimensional form. Features like deltas and river channels are now clearly seen meandering across a seismic volume. Figure 10 is a drawing of a river channel found on a seismic survey buried 1,670 feet deep in Baylor County, Texas. When this feature is penetrated by oil wells it is found to be an isolated body of sand - exactly what is expected if it really is a river channel! For anyone interested in seeing the original picture, it is in the AAPG Explorer, June 1993 p. 14. Other articles show pictures taken from three-dimensional seismic volumes of reefs, oil fields, deltas and river channels."

"When showing this to one friend, he asked if the river could be a buried pre-flood river? It can't. Most young-earth creationists believe that all the fossils were formed during the flood. There are several thousand feet of fossiliferous sedimentary rocks beneath this river channel and 1,600 feet of fossiliferous sediment above the channel. If all the fossils were a result of the flood then the river channel must also have been deposited during that year. But there is no time. The reason that the river channel is so visible is that the channel is incised into a limestone bed. In other words, over 5,000 feet of sedimentary rock was deposited before the Breckenridge limestone bed was deposited. After its deposition the river eroded the channel into the limestone. Nor could the erosion have taken place under the ocean. To erode the limestone in the fashion that it is eroded would require fresh water. The ocean is close to being saturated with calcium carbonate (lime), and so seawater would not easily erode a channel into limestone. This channel must have been deposited above sea level."
"Bill Hoesch, the PR director of ICR, told a friend that meandering channels occur under water and therefore this river channel doesn't require subaerial erosion. It is true that meandering channels are found underwater, but they never cut into limestone as the buried river of Baylor County is doing. Rivers bring clastic sediments (sand and shale) to the oceans. The channels form at river mouths and distribute the sand to the deeper waters. The shale remains in suspension much longer and is distributed by the water. And it is the shale filled waters that ensure that these channels will not cut into limestone. The shale-clogged waters kill almost all limestone-depositing animals like coral. Without those lime-secreting organisms, there is no limestone for the river to cut into. So, the fact that there are channels underwater is irrelevant to the channel cut into limestone in Baylor County."

What does this have to do with the age of the earth? There are equations which relate the wavelength of the meander with the rate of flow in the channel. The length of the meander observed is quite similar to that which is seen in rivers today which are forming on the earth's surface. Additionally, we must consider the length of time it took for the river to erode the limestone? It could not have been an instantaneous event."

"When faced with such a clear picture of a buried river channel, what is the Christian geologist supposed to do? Should he reject what his eyes have seen? Is he supposed to lie? Isn't the scientist supposed to explain how what he sees came to be? For his efforts, he is denigrated by the young-earth creationists. "

end quote of Foundation Fall and Flood

Some have tried to say this is post flood sedimentation, we know that any post-flood sedimentation was finished by the time the pyramids were being built. This would be about 2600 BC.

But AiG claims that the flood was in 2304 BC ( After the pyramids were build on flood deposited sediment (how contradictory). So, But for the benefit of doubt, lets put the pyramids being built at 2200 BC. This gives David Tyler 100 years or so to have his post-flood extravaganza. The 40,000 feet of sediment beneath the Tigris and Euphrates River is all post Permian and thus would have to be deposited during that 100 year period at an average rate of 400 feet per year, or, 1 foot per day. If one foot of sediment were being deposited at my house every day, it would take about 12 days to cover my house. I think I would notice that and write something about it. But there is no mention of this amazing event by the writers who supposedly saw the post flood world. Thus, it is Biblical speculation designed to bolster a young-earth view which simply doesn't match any observational data.

River channel 10,000 feet down in Western Oklahoma.
 There are some creationists who believe that the flood ended with the deposition of the Permian strata. But this, too fails. Below is a Pennsylvanian channel from Western Oklahoma. I had posted on the Theology web the following:
Several creationists have held that various parts of the geologic column were post flood and deposited by post flood catastrophism.
"Therefore, we tentatively place the Flood/post-Flood boundary at approximately the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary."  (Steven Austin, John Baumgardner, Russell Humphreys, Andrew Snelling, Larry Vardiman and Kurt Wise, Catastrophic Plate Tectonics," Thired International conference on Creationism, (Pittsburgh,: Creation Science Fellowship, 1994), p. 614)
David Tyler, a British creationist has also argued that much of the geologic column is post flood.  At one time he claimed that the end of the flood was the end of the Permian.  Today, he has moved it back to the end of the Ordovician, meaning that most of the geologic column is post flood (which creates all sorts of problems in and of itself). For those who   thinks the flood deposited Cambrian thru Permian, I would like an explanation of the Pennsylvanian river channel seen below. We wouldn't really expect gently flowing rivers in the deposits of that time. But, in western Oklahoma, from 10,000 feet deep, we find the following river channel set on seismic. This is from the Pennsylvanian Red Fork formation. And I have a picture of a Devonian channel. Why do we find such things when the world was supposedly in great turbulence and in a global flood?

OK, for any  of you who believe that the post Permian rocks were post flood, what are river channels doing in the middle of your flood? Here it is:

But this isn't the end of channels seen on seismic. Even stratigraphically lower, in the Devonian, there are channels. The rightmost arrows shows where the channels are eating into the underlying strata.

Indonesian Channels
Channels in the geologic column present some real problems to the global flood advocate. The picture is a detail (slightly modified) off of the January, 2004 AAPG Bulletin. It shows an Indonesian Pleistocene channel buried in the subsurface. This channel was deposited subaqueously and connects a delta (not shown, with a basin floor fan(also not shown).  The data (blue arrows shows that the meandering channel was created over time You can see where older channels used to be)
If you look at the yellow arrow, you will see to the left, a channel coming towards the arrow and diverging around a barrier which existed at the time the channel was formed.
In the center of the picture is the very clear meanders of a channel. We will come back to those meanders and what they say for the flood. The green arrow marks the edge of channel basin.
The red arrow below marks another channel within the broader channel. If you follow this, looking closely, you can see that this smaller channel meanders within the broader flood plain.
One thing the YEC leaders don�t tell their people is that post flood catastrophism can�t work because there is a speed limit on the speed of water on land. Water on earth simply doesn�t move faster than about 15-20 mph.
�The highest velocity known to have been recorded with a current meter by the U.S. Geological Survey was 22.4 feet per second in a rockbound section of the Potomac River at Chain Bridge near Washington, D.C., on May 14, 1932. Velocities of 30 feet per second (20 miles per hour) have been reported but were not measured by current meter. No greater values are known."
Luna B. Leopold, A View of the River, (London, England: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 33

This limits the amount of sediment which can be carried and limits how rapidly it can be carried.
The wavelength of the meanders is related to the width of the river, the depth of the river and the velocity. Scheidegger, Theoretical Geopmorphology, (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1961), p. 188, gives the relationship between the wavelength and the flow as
L = 2b v/sqrt(gamma^2 * g* h � v^2)
Where L is the wavelength, b is the width of the river, v is the velocity of the water, gamma is a constant less than or equal to 1 (depending on the load of silt), and g is the acceleration due to gravity.
Meanders only occur when v < gamma * sqrt (g * h).
This limits the amount of sediment post-flood rivers can carry in post flood catastrophism. And if you limit that, then theories like those advocated by post-flood catastrophists, like David Tyler and Austin et al,  will have major problems moving 75,000 feet of sediment into the Gulf of Mexico in a 2,000 year periods like those offered by David Tyler.  Tyler has the flood ending when the Ordovician strata are deposited (see
There are 24,146,780,800,000,000 cubic meters of sediment in the northern half of the Gulf of Mexico forming a pile of sediment 75,000 feet thick.  But the Mississippi River and other northern rim rivers can carry only about 175,000,000 cubic meters per year. This means that it would take 138 million years to deposit all the sediment we observe by using post flood rates of deposition. (see
To conclude, it is absolutely impossible to explain the existence of river channels in flood sediments and it is impossible to have channels and explain the post flood deposition many young-earth creationists advocate.  Of course, none of these issues make it to the pages of AIG's Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, Acts & Facts, or the Creation Research Society Quarterly.  Any idea why these issues don't receive the attention they deserve?

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