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Oceans haven't enough dissolved minerals for an old earth (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Oceans haven't enough dissolved minerals for an old earth (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 CD221:

An upper limit for the age of the oceans is obtained by dividing the amount of an element dissolved in the sea by the amount added each year by rivers. These calculations yield the following figures:
Element Years to Accumulate
sodium 260,000,000
magnesium 45,000,000
silicon 8,000
potassium 11,000,000
copper 50,000
gold 560,000
silver 2,100,000
mercury 42,000
lead 2,000
tin 100,000
nickel 18,000
uranium 500,000

Source: Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 153-155.


CreationWiki response:

Actually Talk.Origins is not accurately representing Morris' point. He is not saying that these are all maximum ages for the ocean, but simply that these accumulation times are more consistent with a young Earth than an old one. Also, these are not Morris' own figures; he is actually quoting them from Chemical Oceanography vol. 1 p. 164.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. The numbers in the table are residence times, or the average time that a small amount of an element stays in the sea water before being removed. They are not times that it takes the element to accumulate, and individual atoms may stay much briefer or longer than those times.

Actually the numbers represent both residence times and accumulation time. The calculations are the same for both cases (present amount / rate of influx) so the values are the same.

Elements in the ocean are in approximate equilibrium between sources adding them and mechanisms removing them.

And this conclusion is based on what? This is argument by assertion. Talk.Origins seems to be simply assuming that they all are in approximate equilibrium.

Morris does not ignore this but he deals with it. He recognizes that some elements are in equilibrium but simply shows that the case cannot be made that they are all in equilibrium. Because of the age of this book this argument could be out of date, but Talk.Origins does not provide any evidence for their alleged equilibrium. Instead, they simply state it as fact without supporting data. This suggests that the conclusion is not based on evidence, but on the presupposition that the Earth is billions of years old.

A detailed analysis of sodium, for example, shows that, within measurement error, the amount of sodium added matches the amount removed.

This statement is based on a calculation error. Talk.Origins used the minimum theoretically possible influx rate, not the actual influx rate.

2. Morris left aluminum off the list. It would show (according to Morris's reasoning) that the earth is only 100 years old.

Morris stated that he was only quoting some of the figures from his source, yet did include a reference to aluminum's 100-year accumulation time right after the list. In addition, he included lead with an accumulation time of only 2,000 years. The list is intended to represent typical accumulation times and aluminum is untypically small.

Morris was pointing out that uniformitarian dates do not support the uniformitarian claim for the age of the oceans. Given that the figures he listed ranged from 260 million years to 2000 years and less, he was clearly not claiming that the calculations accurately provided the actual age. Thus the 100 years of aluminum—which he didn't ignore—are no problem to a young-Earth view.