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The Multiple Droughts During the Global Flood

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

Everyone knows what happens when a lake dries out.  The mud dries and cracks form. We find such things in the global flood.One of the things that is very difficult for the global flood advocates to explain is why, during a global, wet water catastrophe, there are so many places in the world which experienced drought.  These areas dried up and left mudcracks as evidence of the drying throughout the geologic column. Everyone is familiar with mudcracks and the fact that they take several days to several weeks of drought to dry out the sediments sufficiently to form.  When we find such things in the fossil record, young-earth creationists often claim that they are synaeresis cracks, which are dewatering structures.  This is a false claim as synaeresis cracks are easily distinguishable from genuine desiccation cracks. Consider what the experts say.
Simpson and Eriksson note that synaeresis cracks are discontinuous:
"Discontinuous dikelets are considered to be characteristic of synaeresis cracks that are of no
paleoenvironmental value (Donovan and Foster 1972; Anderton 1976; Soegaard and Eriksson 1985). Alternatively, the
discontinuity of the dikelets could be due to limited exposure in the tidal cycle that prevented muds from drying completely (cf. Allen 1983)." (Simpson and Eriksson, 1990, p. 94)

Reineck and Singh note that the cross-section of the crack is different in synaeresis cracks (dewatering):
"Such subaqueous shrinkage cracks differ from subaerial desiccation cracks in that they are not so well developed, the cracks are rather narrow, and they do not possess well developed V-shapes in transverse sections. In general, subaqueous shrinkage cracks are less regular in form and often incomplete." (Reineck and Singh, 1980, p. 60)

The young-earth creationist, Steve Austin, implies that all desiccation cracks are synaeresis cracks. He writes:

"Thick sedimentary rock sequences containing shrinkage cracks are frequently claimed to have required repeated wetting and drying of the sediment surface, thereby requiring a lot of time in what would normally appear to be a rapidly deposited sedimentary sequence. Plummer and Gostin urge caution when interpreting 'mudcracks' in rocks as evidence of drying.
        'Shrinkage cracks can form not only at the sediment-air interface by desiccation processes but also at the sediment-water interface or substratally by synaeresis processes.' (page 1147)" (Austin, 1984, p. 272-273)
But what Austin doesn't tell his readers is that Plummer and Gostin note that synaeresis cracks are easily distinguishable from desiccation cracks. Desiccation cracks exist on more than one layer, i.e. have more than one generation; synaeresis cracks are one time events. They write:
"Desiccation mudcracks are generally continuous, polygonal, and often of several generations with v- or u-shaped cross-sections that are infilled from above. Synaeresis cracks, on the other hand, are generally discontinuous, spindle, or sinuous in shape and of one generation only, with v-or u-shaped cross-sections that are infilled from either above or below." (Plummer and Gostin, 1981, p. 1153) 
The picture below shows what it is like to have more than one generation:

Clemmy notes that synaeresis cracks are randomly oriented and incomplete:
"Randomly oriented incomplete cracks, often having a characteristic bird's foot shape and formed during subaqueous
dewatering (possibly aided by salinity changes; Donovan & Foster, 1972) are termed synaeresis cracks. ...
○"Whilst they are not unique to lake sediments, syneresis cracks are particularly abundant in ancient lacustrine formations
(Devonian-Arcadian basin, Triassic - Lockatong Formation, Eocene - Green river Formation)."(Clemmey, 1978, p. 264)  

I am going to show a comparison of the most complete set of synaeresis cracks I have seen, which were made in a laboratory under carefully controlled conditions.  Even so, one can clearly see the difference between these synaeresis cracks (in which the crack doesn't cause a separation of the two sides of the crack).  The synaeresis crack is more like a fold or wrinkle than like a desiccation crack shown below it.

Here is a modern example of a desiccation cracks. Here you see the clear break in the 2 sides of the crack. It isn't merely a fold as above:

Picture served from here
The synaeresis cracks were generated by flocculating (rapidly depositing shale) and thus it is a phenomenon of shale, not of limestone which will become important below.
I note these differences up front so that no one can claim that the cracks I will show below are synaeresis in origin. One more piece of background information before looking at various age desiccation cracks.  The geologic column is in the order as follows:

Thus when we find Cambrian desiccation, it lies in rocks beneath the rest. And when we find Miocene cracks, they are above most of the rocks being beneath only the Recent, Pleistocene and Pliocene. One must remember that whatever one thinks about the geologic column, the order represents a relative time line--e.g. the Cambrian was deposited earlier than the Ordovician etc.
The global flood was supposed to have covered the entire earth with water and deposited the entire geologic column, according to most flood advocates. A moderate thickness of sedimentary rock of 15,000 feet would require the average deposition of 41 feet of sediment per day for 365 days to account for the strata. That is almost 2 feet per hour. Under these conditions, we should not expect to find lots and lots of desiccation cracks in the geologic column.  The plain fact is, desiccation cracks are quite abundant in the column.  Given that desiccation cracks can be found in each and every geologic period, the earth was never covered with water because it would be impossible for the sediments to dry out beneath thousands of feet of water.  Lets start with a set of desiccation cracks with an unknown age. This is from Peru and is along one of the roads.

The thing that is fascinating about this is that the layer used to be flat when the mud was soft and when it was drying out.  The drying would have taken some days. This alone would argue against the 2 feet per hour of flood deposition.  But after the cracks were formed and the rock dried out, the next layer of sediment came and deposited inside the cracks filling them with a slightly different material. (once again, more time). Then the rock was lithified (more time) and eventually the rock was upraised to a vertical position in the Andes. The entire sequence of events requires more time than the global flood advocates allow.
Drought in the Cambrian
Archibald Geikie, as long ago as 1903 noted that the Cambrian was full of desiccation cracks.:
"The rocks of the Cambrian system present considerable uniformity of lithological character over the globe.  They consist of grey and reddish grits or greywackes, quartzites, and conglomerates, with shales, slates, phyllites, or schists, and sometimes thick masses of limestone.  Their false bedding, ripple-marks, and sun-cracks indicate deposit in shallow water and occasional exposure of littoral surfaces to desiccation." (Geikie, 1903, p. 909.  
Occasionally the drying out in the Cambrian became so great that salt was deposited.
The salt crystals formed in the sediments beneath the sandstone, then dissolved and the sand filled in the crystals leaving the form of the crystal only now molded in sand.  This is a true drought in the Cambrian.
Drought in the Ordovician.

This is from the Ordovician of the Ozarks. Once again, another drought affected the global flood, drying out the earth's surface while it was all wet!  Yeah sure.
Ordovician mudcracks are found elsewhere as well:
"Sedimentary structures suggestive of deposition in a predominantly intertidal environment, possibly supratidal in parts, are common in the Gap Creek Formation.  They include desiccation cracks, algal laminae, intraclastic beds, small scale cross-bedding, fossil trails, erosional truncation, scour-and-fill, abundant vertical burrows, and some horizontal burrows." (McTavish and Legg, 1976, p.461)  
Drought Cracks in the Silurian

One can see the multiple generations of desiccation cracks on the upraised slab at the top right of the above outcrop.  This is something that synaeresis can not do. And this is a limestone, not a shale where synaeresis cracks form.
Drought in the Devonian
Another drought occurred during the Noahic flood in the Devonian.  Here are some desiccation cracks from

Drought in the Mississippian
As we move up the geologic column the global flood once again finds itself without water and the land drying out.  Here is a Mississippian example:

Like the case in Peru, this rock shows a similar sequence.  Mud deposited (takes some time); mud dries out (takes a few days); cracks infilled with more material (takes some time); mud lithified (takes some time); then uplifted to a vertical position (takes some time). These sequences argue against the view that 41 feet of sediment each and every day was being deposited on these rocks.
Drought in the Pennsylvanian
The  Pennsylvanian Minnelusa formation which contains three features which are incompatible with the flood. First there is a desiccated dolomite with desiccation cracks. Secondly, there are two anhydrite layers with a peculiar "chicken-wire" structure (Achauer, 1982, p. 195). Thirdly, the sands are cross-bedded in a fashion identical to modern desert dunes! The importance of these three features is that desiccation is not likely in a world wide flood, and "chicken-wire" anhydrite only forms above 35 degree C. and near the water table. (Hsu, 1972,p. 30). This type of anhydrite is deposited in the Persian Gulf area today. Fossils include brachiopods, cephalopods, gastropods, fish teeth, crinoids pelecypods. None of the Minnelusa beds are likely to be deposited under flood waters.
With all these droughts, one wonders where the global flood was!
Drought in the Permian
In western Pennsylvania, the Permian was a time of drought, as it was over much of the world. Salt was deposited in Kansas, West Texas, as well as in Europe. Dean notes
"By contrast, the evaporites in the Permian Zechstein basin are more than 600 m thick, with a total volume of more than 2 X 109 Km3and a NaCl:CaSO4 of about 5:1 (Borcher and Muir, 1964)." (Dean, 1978, p. 81)
In Texas the Castile formation was deposited. King relates that 928.5 x 10 15 cubic feet of water had to have been evaporated during this time (King, 1947, p. 475) The young-earther should note that complete evaporation is hard to accomplish when the world is covered with water.
 Below is a desiccation crack from the Permian. It is from an excellent web page tells about other items indicating drought.

Drought in the Triassic
The Triassic also was a time of worldwide drought. Red beds, salt (Zechstein of Europe). And once again, in the middle of a global flood, we find the world running out of water and everything drying out. Here is a Triassic desiccation crack.

During the formation of this rock, the 41 feet of deposition per day ceased so that a dinosaur could take a stroll on the mudcracked and drying rocks.  Doesn't look like a global flood to me, but several of my YEC friends claim that if I only had the right framework I could interpret this as due to a global flood. Unfortunately, they never seem to give me their explanation for these features.
Drought in the Jurassic
Below is from St. George, Utah.  The Jurassic there holds dinosaur tracks but they also, like the Triassic above, have multiple layers of desiccation cracks.  Once again,  there must have been several months when the flood waters and sedimentation ceased to have any effect.  Once again, the global flood was stopped by a drought.

You can learn more about this site at
Here is a dino track and on the left you can see the desiccation cracks:

Drought in the Cretaceous
The Cretaceous example comes from South Texas where on a field trip along Pipe Creek.  There are 6 ledges along the creek, each having a carbonate hardground with burrows and desiccation cracks filled with evaporitic minerals.  

The celstite is an evaporitic mineral which fills the desiccation crack.  Once again, the Cretaceous seems to be short on water for the global flood.  And the six ledges with all of this clearly shows that 41 feet per day were not being deposited here.  There is about 15,000 feet of sediment below these rocks and used to be a lot of sediment above them prior to the erosion which has dumps lots of this sediment out in the Gulf of Mexico.
Drought in the Tertiary
From France:
"Periodically, desiccation of the basin produced mud-cracked horizons locally with bird and mammal footprints.  At the end of this arid period, an extensive development of algal mats covered the whole area of the basin."  (Truc, 1978, p. 189-190)   
And here is a picture of mudcracks from the Eocene of the Tertiary from the Green River formation, which YECs often claim is due to a global flood. At least parts of that deposit were lacking waters of the global flood.:

What we have seen here is that the entire geologic column lacks evidence of a global flood. The world was drying out during the time the YECs claim that the world was underwater. Global flood advocates will most assuredly not have a rational explanation for all these desiccation cracks up and down the entire column.  And this is why no one pays any attention to YEC in the geological sciences.  They can't explain anything.
When discussing desiccation cracks, one man on TheologyWeb suggested "The "geologic age" idea is probably flawed. Now if you could show the same thing at one vertical location that would be far more compelling."
I replied:
Ok, I will do it. This is a well from the Williston Basin. It has rocks from all ages there in vertical succession. There are 8 layers of desiccation cracks vertically above one another. (you should be careful what you ask for)

Here is the depths from a well in Montana in the deepest part of the basin. I have interspersed the comments from my web page and other sources. My web page is The footage is the depth the formation is found in the W. H. Hunt Larsen #1 well in Montana:

Tertiary Ft. Union Fm ..........................100 feet
Cretaceous Greenhorn Fm .......................4910 feet
Cretaceous Mowry Fm........................... 5370 feet
Cretaceous Inyan Kara Fm.......................5790 feet
Jurassic Rierdon Fm............................6690 feet
Triassic Spearfish Fm..........................7325 feet
"A continental mode of deposition is suggested by the red color of the sediments. This color suggests oxidation, possibly resulting from periodic wetting and drying (Barchyn, 1982, 1984). This is further substantiated by desiccation <cracks in the shaly interbeds. The anhydritic nature of the sediments also suggests periodic emergence of the depositional surface."Richard D. Le Fever, Julie A. Le Fever, "Newburg and South Westhope Fields--U.S.A. Williston Basin, North Dakota" in TR: Stratigraphic Traps II, 1991, AAPG, p. 177

Permian Opeche Fm..............................7740 feet
"The products of the desiccation stage are desiccation <cracks> in halite and red sediment, microcrystalline salt crust, intergranular and pipe-filling halite cement, and displacive halite and anhydrite crystals. "Kathleen Counter Benison (1), Robert H. Goldstein, "Sedimentology of Ancient Saline Pans: An Example from the Permian Opeche> Shale, Williston Basin, North Dakota, U.S.A." Journal of Sedimentary Research, Section A: Sedimentary Petrology and Processes Vol. 70 (2000), No. 1. (January), Pages 159-169
, p. 166

Pennsylvanian Amsden Fm........................7990 feet
Pennsylvanian Tyler Fm.........................8245 feet
Mississippian Otter Fm.........................8440 feet
Mississippian Kibbey Lm........................8780 feet
Mississippian Charles Fm.......................8945 feet
Mississippian Mission Canyon Fm................9775 feet
Mississippian Lodgepole Fm....................10255 feet
Devonian Bakken Fm............................11085 feet
Devonian Birdbear Fm..........................11340 feet
"Birdbear formation with desiccation, caliche development (caliche is widespread in west Texas- a dry area) and burrows. (Ehrets and Kissling, 1983, p. 1336; Halabura, 1983, p. 121) " my web page


"Devonian events include early cementation of desiccation structures and intergranular spaces, localized vuggy and moldic porosity development, and dolomitization and formation of intercrystalline porosity." Gerald C. Blount, "Stratigraphy, Depositional Environments, and Diagenesis Related to Porosity Development and Destruction in Jefferson Formation, Northwestern Montana: ABSTRACT" AAPG, Aug.1986, p. 1032

Devonian Duperow Fm...........................11422 feet
Devonian Souris River Fm......................11832 feet
Devonian Dawson Bay Fm........................12089 feet
"This study shows that the mudstone was deposited in environments that ranged from saline- and dry-mudflat to distal alluvial-eolian plain, and that the dolostone formed in a Coorong-like environment. New evidence shows that the lower Burr Member was deposited in an oxygen-restricted environment. Data indicate that the environment in central Saskatchewan was more oxygen- restricted. From base to top, the depositional environment of the Neely Member changed from relatively deep, offshore settings, through higher energy, shallower water conditions represented by domical stromatoporoids, to intertidal and supratidal conditions. The Hubbard Evaporite Member was deposited in salt pan to saline mudflat environment, and the overlying First Red Bed formed in environments that ranged from saline mudflat, dry mudflat to distal floodplain. " C. Gu, Ph.D. thesis, 1998; DISS. ABSTR. INT., SECT. B v.59, no.6, p.2633-B, Dec. 1998.

Devonian Prairie Fm...........................12180 feet
Devonian Winnipegosis Grp.....................12310 feet
"The lower Devonian is the Winnepegosis formation and it consists of a bioclastic (meaning made up of the shells of dead carbonate producing animals) limestone, and the upper part is interbedded carbonate with anhydrite. Mud cracks are also found as are burrows.(Perrin, 1983, p. 54, 57.) There is no sand, no shale so it is hard to see how this could be the flood deposits. Anhydrite is an evaporitic mineral and not compatible with a global flood." My web page

Silurian Interlaken Fm.........................12539 feet
"This formation consists of carbonates, anhydrite, salt, with minor amounts of sand. Layers throughout this deposit are also burrows and mudcracks from drying out of the layers (Lobue, 1983, p. 36,37). There are also intact corals of a totally different type than are alive today. The Paleozoic corals are belong to one of three groups - only one of which is found in Mesozoic rocks; the other two became extinct at the end of the Paleozoic. The four-sided corals are only found in the Paleozoic. Modern corals of the 6-sided or 8-sided kind are not found until the Triassic. " my web page

Ordovician Stonewall Fm.......................13250 feet
Ordovician Red River Dolomite.................13630 feet
"Dense dolomites are present well down in the Red River, and in the outcrop area immediately to the north abundant mud cracks (desiccation cracks?) and ripple marks in the Red River dolomites were reported by Byers (1957, p. 27) and Byers and Dahlstrom (1954, p. 70). " J. W. Porter, J. G. C. M. Fuller, "Lower Paleozoic Rocks of Northern Williston Basin and Adjacent Areas" AAPG Bulletin, Jan. 1959, p. 154

Ordovician Winnipeg Grp.......................14210 feet
Ordovician Black Island Fm....................14355 feet
Cambrian Deadwood Fm..........................14445 feet
Precambrian...................................14945 feet

So,name deleted, can you explain this? At least 8 levels of desiccation cracks in the Williston basin all vertically in one place. How does this happen in the flood?

There are lots and lots more of these examples.

Achauer, C. W., 1982. "Sabkha Anhydrite: The Supratidal Facies of Cyclic Deposition in the Upper Minnelusa Formation (Permian) Rozet Fields Area, Powder River Basin, Wyoming," in _Depositional and Diagenetic Spectra of Evaporites_, SEPM Core Workshop No. 3 Calgary Canada, June 26-27, 1982. pp 193-209.
Austin, Steven A., 1984. Catastrophes in Earth History,  ICR Technical Monograph 13, (El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research).
Clemmey, Harry 1978. " A Proterozoic Lacustrine Interlude from the Zambian Copperbelt" in Modern and Ancient Lake Sediments, ed. by Albert Matter and Maurice E. Tucker (London: Blackwell Scientific Publications 1978) 
Dean, Walter E. 1978. "Theoretical Versus Observed Successions From Evaporation of Seawater,"   Marine Evaporites, SEPM Short Course #4.
Fouch, T. E. and W. E. Dean,1982. "Lacustrine and Associated Clastic Depostional Environments,"in Peter A. Scholle and Darwin Spearing, editors Sandstone Depositional Environments, (Tulsa: AAPG)
Geikie,Archibald, 1903. TextBook of Geology, Vol. II, (London: MacMillan & Co.)
Hsu, Kenneth, 1972. When the Mediterranean Dried Up," Scientific American, Dec. 1972, pp 26-36.
King, Ralph H. 1947. "Sedimentation in Permian Castile Sea", Bulletin American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 37:3, 
Kuenen, Ph. H. 1965. "Value of Experiments in Geology," Geol. Mijnbouw, 44:22-36.
Lockley, Martin and Adrian Hunt, 1995. Dinosaur Tracks, (New York: Columbia University Press).
Longwell, Chester R., Richard Foster Flint and John E. Sanders, 1969. Physical Geology, (New York: John Wiley and Sones, Inc.)
Mctavish, R. A. and D. P. Legg, 1976. "The Ordovician of the Canning Basin, Western Australia", in M. G. Bassett, editor, The Ordovician System, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press)
Nilsen, T. H., 1982. "Alluvial Fan Deposits," in Peter A. Scholle and Darwin Spearing, editors Sandstone Depositional Environments,(Tulsa: AAPG)
Plummer P. S., and V. A. Gostin, 1981.  "Shrinkage Cracks: Desiccation or Synaeresis?  Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, Vol. 51:4,  Dec 1981.  
Reineck, H. E. and  J. B. Singh  1980. Depositional Sedimentary Environments (New York: Springer-Verlag )
Schrock, Robert R. 1948.  Sequence in Layered Rocks, (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.)
Schuchert, Charles and Carl O. Dunbar, 1933. A Textbook of Geology, 3rd ed. Pt. II, (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.,)
Simpson, Edward L.and  Kenneth A. Eriksson,  1990. "Early Cambrian Progradational and Transgressive Sedimentation Patterns in Virginia: An Example of the Early History of a Passive Margin," Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 60(1990):1:84-100.
Truc, G. 1978. "Lacustrine Sedimentation in an Evaporitic Environment: the Ludian (Palaeogene) of the Mormoiron Basin, Southeastern France",  in Modern and Ancient Lake Sediments ed. by Albert Matter and Maurice E. Tucker (London: Blackwell Scientific Publications)

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