Creation Science

Creation Science Rebuttals

Institute for Creation Research

Supervolcanoes as Evidence of a Young Earth?

 

By Greg Neyman

© 2010, Old Earth Ministries

First Published 4 May 2010

 

     In a recent article in the Acts & Facts newsletter by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Steven Austin attempts to provide evidence for a young earth with claims regarding Mount St. Helens.  The ICR and Austin are using the 30 year anniversary of this volcanic eruption to explain to ICR readers that supervolcanoes support the young earth theory.1 

     As is typical of young earth arguments, Austin makes several claims, yet he fails to provide any proof to back up his claims.  For example, he states,

 

For example, Ice Age supervolcanoes, such as Long Valley of California and Yellowstone in Wyoming, exploded just after the Flood.

 

      This matter of fact statement is given, with no supporting evidence that these two supervolcanoes erupted just after the supposed young earth flood, about 4,300 years ago.  In reality, the Long Valley Caldera formed from a massive eruption 760,000 years ago, and there have been smaller eruptions since, at 200,000 year intervals.2  The Yellowstone Caldera is actually a conglomeration of calderas from three separate eruption events, dated at 2.1 million years, 1.3 million years, and 640,000 years ago.  The YellowstoneYellowstone Hotspot volcano is caused by a hotspot in the earth’s crust (click link for an explanation).  In the case of the Yellowstone hotspot, a trail of calderas formed from eruptions over the past 15 million years.3 Although Austin addresses the Yellowstone Caldera, he fails to address the older calderas that formed from the Yellowstone hotspot. (click image for larger view.)

 

     Austin then makes this claim,

 

In northwestern Italy, a 16-mile-thick succession of rock was turned sideways by the late Flood catastrophic plate collision between Europe and Africa.

 

     His reference for this claim is a research article in the journal Geology, titled "Magmatic plumbing of a large Permian caldera exposed to a depth of 25 km."4  I checked out this article, and it does not claim any such thing.  While it refers to the rock units that Austin is talking about, the article is written by a team of geologists who clearly believe that the earth is old, and no mention is given of Noah's Flood at all.  Once again, Austin is merely making a claim with no scientific proof.

     The next claim is that the Independence DIke Swarm was caused by catastrophic plate tectonics (late in the Flood).  However, the dike swarm is Late Jurassic in age (approximately 148 million years old).5  Again, he presents no data to dispute the 148 Ma date.  He does reference another young earth article that discusses the dike swarm, but this article does not present any scientific data either.  It only presents an alternative young earth explanation.  He concludes this paragraph with the statement "Within theBrushy Basin Member Brushy Basin ash are sandstone beds that represent the gigantic mudflows that swept up and buried dinosaurs" (supposedly by the Flood).  Let's examine the Brushy Basin Member in one location, at Emery County in Utah (image from here).  While there are possible units in the Brushy Basin Member that could represent a mudflow made mostly of sand, (the yellow lenses in the image at right), they are not the dominant feature.  And while one could say these are mudflows, the rest of the formation, represented by green, consists of ordinary green mudstone, not deposited in a mudflow scenario, but in a slow and gradual process.  As you can see, the Brushy Basin Member at this location could possibly have consisted of intervals of normal deposition, followed by occasional sandy mudflows.  Thus it could represent  a series of minor flood events, but not a massive, single flood such as a worldwide flood.  It is also interesting to note the scale.  The thickest of these sandstone units is only about 12 feet...not exactly what one would expect from a massive mudflow that killed the dinosaurs. (NOTE:  the yellow lenses are interpreted by geologists as riverbed sandstones, from a meandering river, and not a sandy mudflow.6  As for age, the Brushy Basin Member is about 147 million years.7)

     Finally, Austin refers to lava flows that he suggests were associated with Noah's Flood.  The Columbia River Basalts of eastern Washington and Oregon, the majority of which were deposited between 17 and 14 million years ago,8 and the Nikolai Greenstone from Alaska, which actually dates to late Triassic in age (the late Triassic is from 228 - 203.6 million years ago).9  Austin provides no scientific data to back up his claim that these occurred about 4,300 years ago.

    

Conclusion

 

     The author is merely using the position of an 'authority figure' to give a baseless argument for a young earth interpretation.  In this type of argument, a supposed "young earth expert" gives his opinion, and most young earth readers blindly accept the "authority figure's" statement as the truth.  However, when you look at the facts, you see that the claim has absolutely no basis in scientific fact. 

         


 

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NOTES:

 

1  Steven A. Austin, Supervolcanoes and the Mt Saint Helens Eruption, ICR Acts & Facts, 13 April 2010.

 

2  Long Valley Caldera

 

3  Yellowstone Hotspot

 

4  J.E. Quick, S. Sinigoi, G. Peressini, G. Demarchi, J.L. Wooden, and A. Sbisà
Magmatic plumbing of a large Permian caldera exposed to a depth of 25 km, Geology 2009 37: 603-606. (Abstract)

 

5  B.S. Carl, A.F. Glazner, J.M. Bartley, D.A. Dinter, D.S. Coleman, Independence Dikes and Mafic Rocks of the Eastern Sierra, 1998 Geological Society of America Cordilleran Section Field Guidebook (Draft 20 Jan 1998)

 

6  Kenneth Gerard Galli, "Sedimentology and petrology of the Brushy Basin member, Morrison Formation (Late Jurassic), western Colorado" (January 1, 2003). Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst. Paper AAI3078684. (Abstract available online)

7  Kowallis, Bart J., and others, "The Age of the Morrison Formation, Brigham Young University, 4 Apr 97.  (Online)

 

8  Carson, Robert J. and Pogue, Kevin R. (1996). Flood Basalts and Glacier Floods:Roadside Geology of Parts of Walla Walla, Franklin, and Columbia Counties, Washington. Washington State Department of Natural Resources (Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 90).

 

9  Sanger, E.A., and others, "GRAVITY AND MAGNETIC MODELING OF THE NIKOLAI GREENSTONE IN THE AMPHITHEATER SYNCLINE, MT HAYES QUADRANGLE, ALASKA," presentation given at Geological Society of America Cordillarian Meeting, May 2002.  (Abstract)

 

 


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