Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
First Published 2 September 2006
In an article in Technical Journal (TJ), young earth creation science meteorologist Michael Oard once again tries his hand at geology, with an article explaining why the Green River Formation (GRF) is a good argument for the global Flood of Noah.1 (The article was also featured as the daily feature on the Creation Ministries International website on 3 August 2006).
To explain why the GRF makes a good case for a young earth and a global flood, Oard lists nine points which he claims supports this conclusion.
Oard refers to Psalm 104:8, with the mountains rising, and the valleys sinking, to support his claim that tectonic uplifting and sinking of valleys or basins fits the global flood model. He claims that this tectonic scenario fits well with Flood tectonics during the recessional phase of the flood. The secular, old age scenario also requires tectonics for its model of formation for the GRF, so this argument cannot be seen as exclusively in favor of a young earth explanation. It is "age neutral."
Volume of Sediment
Oard claims that the vast amount of sediment, deposited rapidly, supports a young earth position. He says "It seems that only the global catastrophe of the Flood could account for so much sediment." Again, old earth geologists have no problems here, as we also have the same amount of sediment to account for, over vast ages of time. The volume of sediment is also a neutral argument.
He goes on to claim that there are many horizontal layers with little erosion in between (over 13 million layers in fact). This section is a little confusing, as at first reading he is arguing against his own theory. He says,
"If sedimentation were post-Flood from the surrounding mountains, one would expect immense, thick alluvial fans and landslides tapering basinward away from the mountains."
The answer is in the next section.
Oard notes that there has been a large amount of erosion in this area, hence this is why there are no thick alluvial fans present. He states that there are "erosional remnants", which are locations (mesas) not eroded away like the rest of the material. These mesas are up to 600 meters higher (Figure 10 in this article shows two in the distance). He claims that...
"slow erosion of sedimentary rocks over millions of years does not make sense, because these erosional remnants should have also been eroded away or reduced greatly in size, especially since precipitation and mass wasting is greater the higher the elevation and the steeper the slopes."
He fails to mention that these remnants, or mesas, are covered by a cap rock, which erodes at a much slower rate than the soft sediments of the GRF. Fortunately, I have a geologic map of Wyoming. The photo that he shows was taken from northwest of Boar's Tusk, which means the mesas in the distance are North Table Mountain and South Table Mountain, which are capped by igneous rocks of the same age as Boar's Tusk. Since these intrusive and extrusive igneous flows erode much slower, they cause these mesas. If there were no cap rocks to cause this weathering pattern, then Oard's statement would be true.
Oard also makes the following claim:
"Furthermore, sedimentation from higher areas should tend to fill up the valleys with fairly recent alluvium. The current amount of alluvium in low areas appears to be quite thin. The geomorphology of the area implies rapid erosion over a short period of time."
The first sentence is correct, and there is recent alluvium present. The rest of the argument makes no sense. Even if one would expect there to be much more alluvium, the young earth model also erodes the same amount of material, thus it should be present as well. If there is a problem with too little eroded material, it is also a problem for the young earth model.
Tropical and Subtropical Fossils
The GRF contains tropical fossils, such as crocodile fossils, and also tropical plant fossils, such as palms. As Oard points out, in the young earth model, this post-Flood environment is thought to be during an ice age, and there should be no tropical fossils in this location. To solve this dilemma, Oard proposes that the fossils were likely spread around the earth in strong Flood currents.
This is likely, if there was a global flood. However, this also fails to fit the evidence. If these tropical fossils were scattered by the currents, then we would expect to find tropical fossils in every locale on the planet. This is not the case. We find fossils buried in their own ecosystems, and not scattered randomly around the world. This argument is complete nonsense, even from a young earth perspective. Oard should have realized this problem.
Fossils Indicate Rapid Deposition
It is true that many fossils indicate that they were buried rapidly. Geologists recognize the role of rapid burial in fossil preservation. However, not all fossils fall in this category. The main complaint of young earth creationists is that fossils will rot quickly, unless they are buried rapidly. Oard mentions this, and says that they will even rot quickly on cold lake bottoms which are anoxic (no oxygen). This may be true, but these are only two of the variables that leads to rotting fish. Unfortunately, he relies upon research from John Whitmore, a fellow young earth creationist. I cannot be certain, but Whitmore is probably relying on the work of Garner (Creation Magazine, V. 19, Issue 3), who relied on the work of scientists at the Chicago Natural History Museum in 1963. The samples in this case were lowered into a marsh (not a lake). In a marsh, there is an abundance of organic materials. In a land-locked basin such as formed the GRF, there was no marsh-type environment. Other experiments and observations of actual decaying objects in modern lakes indicates that they can indeed be preserved through slow and gradual burial.2
Thick, Extensive Coal
Oard says that some of the basins of the Rocky Mountains have coal seams. He says they are difficult to explain within the young earth creationist model, but even more difficult in the old earth model.
Oard introduces a problem, offers no solution, and simply says the old earth model has trouble explaining it. How is this a good argument for a young earth?
Thick Volcanic Sediments in the Bridger Formation
This is another strange section, as he does not answer all the issues. The Bridger Formation overlies the GRF. Oard claims that it and the Washakie Formation (which overlies the Bridger) are mainly volcanic sediments. While they do contain volcanic sediments, I cannot say for certain that volcanics form the majority of their composition. However, the formations are not strictly volcanic in origin. They also contain other features such as marlstone and conglomerates.
Oard refers to a period of great volcanism, causing a volcanic winter. This of course fits in with his theory of their being an Ice Age after the global flood. However, as he points out, there are tropical fossils in the Bridger, which causes a problem.
He suggests that there were floating log mats which was the source of these tropical fossils. These are supposed to have floated into the area of the Bridger Formation, where they were buried. This model also has the same problem mentioned earlier concerning fossils. If there were floating log mats, these tropical fossil plants would appear in every locale on the planet. Instead, we find tropical plant fossils in tropical locations, and desert plants in desert locations, and so forth. The fossil evidence does not support Oard's theory.
He ends this section with an unanswered question.
Oard finally presents a laundry list of other arguments, with no supporting evidence. These items are the topic of other young earth arguments, and thus rebuttals for them will appear elsewhere.
Oard claims that the GRF was deposited during the Inundatory Stage of the Flood and eroded during the Recessive Stage. However, the evidence that Oard presented left me wondering why he even bothers writing geologic articles. He presents no valid evidence to support his position, and at times leaves more questions for the reader to consider, without attempting to answer them.
The standard geological explanation for the GRF is a much better fit with the evidence than the contrived young earth position, which has been cobbled together in bits and pieces. As a whole it is a very unconsolidated theory.
For More Reading
2 Cotton, Gerald E. et al, 1987, "Preservation of Human Tissue Immersed for Five Years in Fresh Water of Known Temperature," Journal of Forensic Sciences, 32:4:1125-1130
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