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On the weekend of November 6/09 large crowds came to hear Dr. Steven Austin, senior research scientist from Institute for Creation Research, discuss his work in geology. On the Friday evening, he described events surrounding the eruption of Mount St. Helens in May 1980. One result was pyroclastic (very hot) mud flows which deposited and quickly eroded a canyon similar in appearance to the Grand Canyon, only at a smaller scale (one twenty fifth the size). This miniature, but still impressive, canyon, demonstrates that obvious layering of sediment and erosion of these layers can happen very quickly. No long ages are required.

Another result of the eruption was a tidal wave from nearby Spirit Lake, which scrubbed all the trees off the nearby mountain slopes. These tree trunks floated in the newly located Spirit Lake. Tree parts continue to sink to the lake bottom: both bark and tree trunks, some in vertical position. The vertical trunks resemble the remains of so called “coal swamps” connected with coal deposits, but the Spirit Lake logs have sunk over a few years, not growing over millions of years, as many suppose to the case for the coal swamps. Other phenomena too, connected with this mountain, all suggest the passage of long ages, but we know that they all happened within the last few years.

The next morning Dr. Austin discussed where Darwin first went wrong. Apparently, when Darwin made his famous voyage in the HMS Beagle, his interests were in geology. At one time, even, he was secretary of the geological society of London. In that geology was his primary interest at that time, his first conclusions in this discipline are particularly relevant in revealing his approach to the study of nature. These errors contributed moreover to the later conclusions he made about biology, for which he is famous. In that Darwin’s initial conclusions were wrong, it is not surprising that his later conclusions were also wrong.

At three sites along the coast of South America, the Santa Cruz River valley in Argentina, the San Sebastian boulder deposit in Peru and the effects of the Concepcion earthquake and tsunami, which he actually experienced on February 20. 1835 in Chile, Darwin failed to see evidence of catastrophic processes.

In the Santa Cruz River valley, for example, there is a 60 m high boulder bar in the middle of the 7 km wide river valley. This bar is 8 km long and 5 km across and it consists of rounded boulders and cobbles. The only way such a structure could come about is from fast running water. The boulder bar is, in short, a primary sedimentary deposit. Also over the 120 m high basalt cliff along the river’s edge, there are rounded pebbles and cobbles of metamorphic rock. This rock originated in the core of the Andes Mountains, several hundred km farther west. Only a catastrophic flood could erode the valley, drop the boulder bar and strew foreign, but well rounded rocky debris on top of the cliff. As a practicing geologist, Darwin should have known that none of these phenomena can come about slowly, but his expectation was to observe evidence of slow processes and so these were his conclusions. The same thing happened at the other two sites. Thus his support for processes extending over long ages, was established early.

On Saturday afternoon, Dr. Austin discussed worldwide marks left by the global flood. Firstly he discussed strata (layers of rock) and processes of sedimentation. While many modern geologists concede that many sedimentary deposits occur quickly, they nevertheless insist that limestone was deposited slowly from placid lakes. Dr. Austin pointed out evidence contrary to this idea. The Redwall Limestone of the Grand Canyon, for example, is a deposit 120 m thick. About 30 m up from the base of this deposit is a 2 m thick layer which is widespread throughout the canyon and beyond, even extending 200 km from Marble Canyon to Los Vegas! In this layer of rock, throughout the region, are found arm length long nautiloid fossils. These organisms were like squid or octopus, but each lived in a cigar shaped shell. Most of the shell was gas filled, with the creature occupying an outer chamber so that it could extend its tentacles outward. These predators were apparently overcome and buried by an under water debris flow of limey material which must have been moving about 7 m per second to overtake these fast moving predators. Dr. Austin has observed 1000s of these animals in that layer of limestone rock, proof that limestone can be deposited quickly and catastrophically.

Dr. Austin next discussed catastrophic plate tectonics (continental sprint), a model for the onset and geological after effects of the global flood. In connection with this, he discussed sheet erosion and other effects of retreating flood waters rushing off the continents during the late stages of the flood. Another effect of these tectonic upheavals was extensive volcanism. In this connection he pointed to the Yellowstone supervolcano of the past which left 16,300 cubic km of sediment which is now called the Morrison Formation. Part of this deposit includes the 145 m thick Brushy Basin Member, which includes many dinosaurs including huge sauropods. The dinosaur bones found at Dinosaur National Monument are evidence of a gigantic slurry flow event connected to volcanic eruptions.

Lastly in this topic Dr. Austin discussed evidence for exponential decline in geologic events following the great flood. (An acronym for these points, arranged for easy recall, is STEVE!)

Later in the evening and for a change of pace, Dr. Austin discussed the search for Sodom and Gomorrah. It is the modern secular view that these cities never existed and that the Biblical account is entirely mythical. Dr. Austin however declared that a search in Israel and Jordan reveals interesting evidence concerning the real existence of these cities and of their fate.

With reference to ancient maps and other documents, Dr. Austin identified Babe dh dhra as the likely location of Sodom, and Wadi Numeri as Gomorrah. The scale of the destruction in both these communities, demonstrated from modern digs at these sites, suggests that an extremely strong earthquake was involved with associated electrical disturbances and flammable ignition of petroleum products such as asphalt and tar which issued from the fault. Zoar, a nearby city which remained intact, was located near the same fault, but it was on the west side. The destroyed communities were on the east side of the fault where blowing gas and burning debris could overcome the flattened remains. Apparently too, the largest shallow basin of hot lava is situated directly under the site of Sodom. These interesting insights may well create new interest in the sad history of these cities.

So ended a most stimulating weekend. This event, it is to be hoped, provided new or renewed interest in the many issues which were discussed.

Margaret Helder
February 2010

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