To begin our week comes Ancient Forest Frozen in Time by Volcano. The geological period is the Permian, the place is Inner Mongolia, and the age is 298 Ma. The paper, Permian vegetational Pompeii from Inner Mongolia and its implications for landscape paleoecology and paleobiogeography of Cathaysia from PNAS, is available as open access here.
With that out of the way, what is Thomas going to do with the finds? He begins with the following paragraphs:
The area surrounding what is now Wuda, Inner Mongolia, once teemed with tropical plants before a tremendous ancient volcanic explosion overwhelmed it. The ash-entombed forest, buried between coal layers, left such remarkably preserved fossilized plants that artists and paleontologists have been able to reconstruct the former wet-forest landscape.
Scientists took advantage of this rare opportunity to investigate, in unprecedented detail, discrete segments of a whole fossilized forest. A nearby coal mining operation removed a tough crust and exposed the well-preserved fossils, which were found over a very large area.
Interesting – they were between coal layers, you say? So how does that fit with the Flood? (He never tells us.) We’ll be back here, at any rate. Skipping ahead:
The majority of plant fossils, such as those found in coal, were washed in from elsewhere, sorted, and compacted. But these plants look as though they were buried in place, preserving their original spacing along an ancient forest floor.
This half paragraph – as well as the other half, as it happens – is misleading. It’s not that the majority of these fossils are from elsewhere, but that finds such as this are not overly common. I’m not actually sure where he got the “washed in from elsewhere [and] sorted” idea from, and I suspect he made it up. “Look as though” seems to be an understatement, also.
Most of the plants were relatively short tree ferns. Dwarf shrubs, cycads, and clusters of ferns also grew, and much taller trees dotted the ancient scene. The study authors wrote, “It is likely that the same type of vegetation would have covered the very extensive mire in all directions and to the horizon.”
This seems to be a fairly typical forest scene – large trees tend to be less common but still able to to form a canopy. What’s atypical from our point of view is the lack of flowering plants, which today are so dominant. Why are there no flowers, Brian? (He doesn’t address that either.)
But they did not mention the possibility that the entire forest may have been transported like a giant sheet. Although the tall trees had been toppled, the collective root mass appeared intact. Perhaps it originally was a floating forest.
They didn’t mention the possibility that the forest was grazed by unicorns either, you know. I think B.T.’s failure-to-mentions are more crippling than the paper’s.
If you’re wondering where you’ve seen this crazy idea of a floating forest before it’s probably from the Highlights post from this time last month. That included a brief going-over of a Thomas article Louisiana’s Floating Marshes Echo Pre-Flood Ecosystem. I concluded, with reference to a similar find from New York, that in situ forests would be quite hard to make float and that the whole thing was probably bullshit. That earlier DpSU is the ‘reference’ Brian gives for his floating forest line here, btw.
This forest, what with sitting on top of one coal layer and below another, I would claim to be even harder to explain. So, the thick peatforest got buried, and a new one grew on top and also became coal? Was this also during the Flood? What about everything on top and below? I think there is even limestone a way under this part of the world, though I could be wrong.
Evolution maintains that these Permian plants existed 240 million years ago. But ironically, according to that same evolutionary timeframe, their fossils should no longer exist. The fossils and all of China should have completely eroded about 14 million years after they were deposited, assuming the evolutionary paradigm and known erosion rates. The study authors wrote, “Excavation was necessary to secure the stunning specimens of this flora because weathering occurs rapidly and destroys the fossils.” So, did China’s landscape experience no weathering for over 200 million years?
Using this study to generalise over the entire earth is extremely questionable. They analyse readings taken from outcrops and basins across the world done by other researchers. You will note that they measure erosion in meters per million years. Numbers vary wildly…
And so on. Note also that the study being discussed there used radioactive decay to determine its measurements, while we had only been told a few days previously that radioactive decay was unreliable.
As for the second half of that paragraph, remember how Brian said at the beginning that a “nearby coal mining operation removed a tough crust and exposed the well-preserved fossils”? Only once you expose fossils to the surface are they really in danger of being weathered away so fast you have to excavate them. China experienced weathering, yes, but here evidently there was more deposition than there was erosion.
In contrast, biblical history easily explains these “catastrophically preserved floras.” The extraordinarily cataclysmic conditions of Noah’s Flood—so violent that Scripture records that it totally destroyed the earth’s surface—provided the tremendous energy required to wash plant matter into mats that would later turn to coal, to dislodge and transport a whole forest, and to unleash volcanic explosions that covered vast regions.
Where “Scripture records that it totally destroyed the earth’s surface” is an oft-quoted Peter verse, 2 Peter 3:5-6, which reads:
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
It tends to be exaggerated by creationists to this end. What about the verse referring to the ‘four corners of the Earth’? What can we make of that? Certainly, this has got nothing to do with volcanic eruptions, so why bring it up?
You can see here that Brian is placing the eruption as happening during the flood, which removes his possible out when it comes to the higher coal layer(s) – that the later layers were formed during the flood and the other events happened prior. And I have no idea why he is fixated on the idea that the forest would be “dislodge[d] and transport[ed],” so don’t ask.