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Geological column is sometimes out of order (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Geological column is sometimes out of order (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 CD102:

Strata in the geological column are sometimes out of order. The mechanisms geophysicists use to account for them are problematic. Thrust faulting would have produced great amounts of debris, which geologists don't see; folding would require great forces which geophysicists have trouble accounting for.


  • Whitcomb, J. C. and H. M. Morris, 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., pp. 180-211.
  • Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 120.

CreationWiki response:

Here are some examples

Name Location Out of place layers Description
Qilian Shan North / West China Ordovician over Pliocene

505 million - 5.1 million

Ordovician strata is over Pliocene gravel with a valley filled with Pleistocene gravel.
Lewis Overthrust Montana, USA Precambrian over Cretaceous

644 million - 144 million

350 miles and 15-30 miles wide and goes from Glacier National Park to Alberta, Canada. However there is a fault line.
Franklin Mountains Near El Paso, Texas, at West Crazy Cat Canyon Ordovician over Cretaceous

450 million - 130 million

No physical evidence of an overthrust.
The Glarus Overthrust Near Schwanden, Switzerland Permian - Jurassic - Eocene

supposed to be

Eocene - Jurassic - Permian

21 miles long. An overthrust is assumed because the fossils are out of place
Empire Mountains Southern Arizona, USA Permian over Cretaceous

286 million - 144 million

Contact is like gear meshing. Sliding would grind off lower formation's projections.
Mythen Peak The Alps Cretaceous over Eocene

200 million - 60 million

Older rock allegedly pushed all the way from africa
Heart Mountain Wyoming, USA Paleozoic - Jurassic - Tertiary - Paleozoic

supposed to be

Tertiary - Jurassic -Paleozoic

Fossils in the "wrong" order Big Time
Matterhorn The Alps Eocene - Triassic - Jurassic - Cretaceous

supposed to be

Triassic - Jurassic - Cretaceous - Eocene

Alleged to have been thrust 60 miles

The main significance of such locations is not as evidence against uniformitarianism but as evidence that the Flood did not need to lay down fossils in perfect agreement with the geologic column.

Qilian Shan is interesting since the upper stratum is over gravel. At first glance this would seem like a perfect example of an overthrust but the implication is that all of the underlying Pliocene and Pleistocene material is gravel. An overthrust would grind the rock at the contact point, not have two whole rock layers pushing one aside and going over the other. If the Pliocene and Pleistocene material were gravel to start with, both would have tended to be pushed aside. The top layer is partly broken up but that does not prove it is an overthrust. They seem to have been laid down together, with gravel under solid rock.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Folds account for out-of-order strata with sequences such as A-B-C-B-A. Faults create sequences such as B-C-A-B-C. The evidence is so overwhelming that these conclusions should be obvious. In many cases, the folds and faults can easily be seen in cross-sections of the strata.

And creationists fully recognize the fact that there are folds and faults, and yes they do account for some examples, but not all. All this really shows is that uniformitarian geologists can explain it away, so the most it does is eliminate out-of-order fossils as evidence against the geologic column. They are still useful in showing that the order of fossils depicted by the geologic column is not absolute.

In other cases, further geological mapping verifies the presence of the fold or fault. Features such as ripple marks and mud cracks show that the strata were originally horizontal.

Nearly all of the above examples are horizontal. Furthermore, there is no reason why expansion cracks and ripple marks cannot occur at a significant angle. Expansion cracks can occur subsurface and particularly in flood geology it would be possible for ripples to form at an angle. So this conclusion is just a result of uniformitarian interpretation.

2. "Great forces" are not a problem in geophysics. First, great forces exist. Earthquakes can move many miles of crust by several feet at a time. Second, the forces act over a long period of time. Rocks which would fracture if bent suddenly will deform gradually under hundreds of millions of years of heat and constant pressure.

Talk.Origins clearly misunderstands what is meant by "have trouble accounting for." In many of these cases there is simply no evidence of a source for that constant pressure in the location in question. For example, there are rock layers in mountains with no adjacent rocks to apply the pressure. The intent is not to say that uniformitarian geology has no source for the forces needed in the general case, but that in specific cases there is no evidence as to how the force was applied.

The claim that rocks will deform gradually under millions of years of heat and constant pressure is an ad hoc explanation necessary to retain uniformitarianism, not something that has been observed.

  • Faults do, in fact, produce a layer of debris along the fault line. Sometimes this layer is fairly thin. There is no reason to expect "great amounts" of debris along all faults.

Translation: Even where there is no evidence for an overthrust, uniformitarian geologists are free to assume there is one.

3. The geologic column is never out of order in areas which have not been greatly disturbed.

That's odd since several of the above examples have no evidence of being disturbed. Besides this statement is made with no support.

However under Talk.Origins' uniformitarian mindset, any out-of-order fossils probably would by definition be "greatly disturbed."