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Entire geological column doesn't exist (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Entire geological column doesn't exist (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 CD101:

The geological column is a fiction, existing on paper only. The entire geological column does not exist anywhere on the earth.


  • Huse, Scott, 1983. The Collapse of Evolution. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, p. 15.

CreationWiki response:

One difficulty is the fact that the geologic column so permeates the classification of rocks and fossils that checking to see how well it agrees with reality is nearly impossible. In many cases the labels are used without any reference to why the label is applied. One factor is that the depth in the geologic column has nothing to do with physical depth. So called "deep fossils", such as those labeled Cambrian, can be found at as little as five feet, while not quite so deep ones can be found physically deeper.

(Talk Origins quotes in blue)

1. The existence of the entire column at one spot is irrelevant. All of the parts of the geological column exist in many places, and there is more than enough overlap that the full column can be reconstructed from those parts.

It is relevant when discussing alternatives to uniformitarian geology. For example, flood geology only needs to explain how fossils are actually found; it does not need to make its explanation compatible with some theoretical construct of uniformitarian geology. Talk Origins is taking this claim out of context. The assembly of the geologic column [1] assumes a time equivalence between rocks containing certain fossils, whereas, if you go by physical depth, some Cambrian fossils may have been deposited after Cretaceous ones. Furthermore, it assumes a vertical deposition of sediment.

However stratification experiments show that in moving water sediment is deposited horizontally.

Vertical deposition Horizontal deposition



The point is that assembling the geologic column from different areas requires assuming a particular form of deposition, whereas deposition often (nearly always?) occurs in a different manner. That makes the geologic column a purely theoretical construct.

  • Breaks in the geological column at any spot are entirely consistent with an old earth history. The column is deposited only in sedimentary environments, where conditions favor the accumulation of sediments. Climatic and geological changes over time would be expected to change areas back and forth between sedimentary and erosional environments.

This is a straw man. No one claims that such breaks are inconsistent with an old earth. The point is that flood geology or any other alternative to uniformitarian geology does not need to explain the entire theoretical geologic column, only what is actually found at any given location.

2. There are several places around the world where strata from all geological eras do exist at a single spot -- for example, the Bonaparte Basin of Australia (Trendall et al. 1990, 382, 396) and the Williston Basin of North Dakota (Morton 2001).

Translation: There are several places around the world where strata have been labeled as from all geological eras.

Actually the use of the term "era" is somewhat deceptive since there are only three above the Precambrian. That means that only three fossils need to be used to make such a claim. They seem to have deliberately chosen the broadest category they could get away with, since each era above the Precambrian is divided into periods and some periods are divided into epochs. So having all three eras would have a fairly high statistical probability.

First of all, even having strata labeled as from all geological periods does not make the entire theoretical geologic column present. The entire geologic column would require layers of sediment about 100 miles thick and there is no place on Earth where this occurs. In fact this is more than twice the maximum thickness of the Earth crust.

Furthermore, none of these locations have all 34 types of index fossils and neither of the two locations above have all of the geological periods represented by index fossils. The rock layers have been given their respective labels on the basis of a comparison with rocks in other locations and the assumptions of uniformitarian geology.

Actually there is only one location in the world (southern Turkey) with all of the geological periods represented by index fossils, but even this location has only half of the 34 types of index fossils; as such it can be considered just a statistical occurrence.

The result is that the entire theoretical geologic column remains a purely theoretical construct, whose credibility depends on the assumptions of uniformitarian geology.