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Polystrate fossils indicate massive sudden deposition (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Polystrate fossils indicate massive sudden deposition (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC331:

Polystrate fossil trees show tree trunks passing through many layers and several meters of sediments. Obviously, the sediments must have been laid down suddenly, not at the gradual rates proposed by uniformitarian geology.


CreationWiki response:

A polystrate fossil is one that crosses more than one layer of stratified rock. Fossilized trees, for example, are frequently found in upright positions passing through two or more layers. These kinds of fossils offer clear evidence against a uniformitarian view of the earth's fossiliferous strata.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Sudden deposition is not a problem for uniformitarian geology. Single floods can deposit sediments up to several feet thick. Furthermore, trees buried in such sediments do not die and decay immediately; the trunks can remain there for years or even decades.

Talk.Origins agrees that polystrate fossil trees show that the layers containing buried trees were laid down quickly. Their only point of disagreement is whether or not they are a problem for uniformitarian geology.

Polystrate fossils are a problem for uniformitarian geology because they often go through layers of different types of rock, and even coal seams. There are even a number of cases where they go through two or more coal seams. Without the polystrate fossils uniformitarian geology would say that many of the layers these they go through took millions of years to be laid down, and that is why such fossils are a problem for uniformitarian geology.

Within the Joggins formation specifically, the polystrate lycopods are sometimes rooted in coal, sometimes rooted in shale, sometimes rooted in sandstone, and sometimes have no roots at all! It is ad-hoc to suggest that yes, the lycopods were buried rapidly in a flash flood but the sediments in between them took long periods of time. There is not one shred of difference between the layers that are cut through by polystrate fossils and the ones that are not.

It's especially interesting that Talk.Origins shows a drawing by William Dawson which clearly shows the roots and rootlets are missing from the stump, while simultaneously citing this as evidence that the stump was buried where it grew.

In addition, in the paper cited below on the Underclays of Joggins, the author provides the data for the underclays, understones, and shales of Coal Groups 1-12 of the Joggins strata. His conclusion is quoted below:

"Therefore, out of 44 possible soils, only 3 contain both roots and rootlets that are also situated beneath a coal. When we take into account Dawson's eagerness to prove that the coals were formed in place, it is fairly safe to say that if any of these "soils" contained roots with attached rootlets, he would have eagerly said so. However, since he didn't, then to say that such beds represent in situ growth of multiple "forests" is highly questionable."

Related References

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See Also