Supervolcanoes of the Flood

Pinatubo: not to be sneezed at
In his June Acts & Facts article, Volcanoes of the Past, Dr John D. Morris argues for an exponential decay of the power of volcanoes since the flood. It should come as no surprise that this requires the cherry-picking of data in order to support his claims. But first, an introduction:

During the great Flood of Noah’s day, God unleashed His great power, exercising His righteous judgment on the wicked and violent civilization that had rejected Him. He promised not only to judge sinful man, but also to judge the earth (Genesis 6:13). All of Adam’s dominion (Genesis 1:26) came under the sin penalty because of his choice to reject God’s kingship over creation. By the time of Noah’s day, rebellion had increased so much that God finally enacted His just penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). He sent the worldwide Flood to punish the wicked world, purge the entire planet, and start over with the descendants of righteous Noah.

Don’t forget: Noah’s Flood was the genocidal cleansing of almost the entire population of the planet in retribution for their (unspecified) sins.

The Flood primarily involved hydraulic processes, with rainfall pummeling the earth for 150 days (Genesis 7:11-8:4). The “fountains of the great deep” also broke open, spewing onto the surface of the earth huge volumes of water, magma, and whatever else was beneath the earth’s crust. “Fountains” suggest tectonic activity as well, both on land and under water.

Morris repeats the 150 days claim. Once again, the 150 days was the time until the water abated (Gen 8:3) – the famous ‘forty days and forty nights’ constrains the actual raining to that, much shorter period. Now for those volcanoes:

Through an understanding of today’s volcanic eruptions, we can better comprehend those of the past. However, the rock record of the past suggests that yesterday’s volcanoes were evidently “supervolcanoes,” accomplishing geologic work hardly comparable to those we currently observe.

Amazing, innit?There were, however, plenty of more boring volcanoes as well, something which rather ruins his exponential decline idea. It’s analogous to the inch ruler on the right where an apparently exponential decline is spoiled by the lines that don’t go down so far.

If we plot the volume of ash and lava extruded by volcanoes throughout history—comparing Vesuvius (79 A.D.) and Krakatoa (1883) to more recent volcanoes, such as Mount St. Helens (1980) and Pinatubo (1991)—we come to the conclusion that the earth processes are quieting down. Then if we plot the materials blown out by volcanoes that erupted during the great Flood and soon thereafter (inferred only from the materials left behind), then we conclude an exponential decline in the power of earth’s volcanoes over time. Flood volcanoes were many times greater than those recently witnessed.

The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff
The Mesa Falls Tuff
The Lava Creek Tuff

What’s missing here? To begin with, the most powerful eruption in the last 5000 years was the Hatepe eruption of Taupo, in around 180-230 (dates given vary). And by far the most powerful eruption in many millions of years was Toba, which – due to the human fossils beneath the ash – cannot be construed to be anything other than post flood. This alone destroys the claim that “Flood volcanoes were many times greater than those recently witnessed,” for relevant values of ‘recently.’

Morris also provides a map of a number of Western US volcanic eruptions, and a diagram comparing the amount of material ejected. These are: the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, the Lava Creek Tuff, the Bishop Tuff, the Mazama Ash, and the “Mount St. Helens Ash” (presumably corresponding to the most famous eruption of 1980). These are cherry-picked so that the chronological order also shows a decrease in eruption volume. For example, the first two are from Yellowstone. Missing, however, between these is the other eruption, which produced the much smaller Mesa Falls Tuff: this alone ruins the progression. In addition, there will be many, many smaller eruptions omitted that muck things up, often from the same volcanoes which simply would not have the time to do so.

Earth underwent a complete tectonic restructuring during the great Flood, with supervolcanoes, mega-earthquakes, supercurrents of flowing water and mud, and hypercanes. All of these exhibit a similar exponential decline in intensity. Thankfully, we do not witness comparable events, and God promised we wouldn’t, but by studying the impact of the great Flood we can begin to understand how much God hates sin. Likewise, we can surmise the nature of the coming judgment, when the earth will pass away and be replaced by the new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13).

It is generally agreed that Yellowstone will erupt again. Just give it time…

The plan for the A&F stuff this month is to give each of the more science-related article its own post, and then post the rest as one. We’ll see how it goes.

5 thoughts on “Supervolcanoes of the Flood

  1. ‘We’ are expected to plot the volume of ash and lava extruded by volcanoes throughout history—comparing Vesuvius (79 A.D.) and Krakatoa (1883) to more recent volcanoes, such as Mount St. Helens (1980) and Pinatubo (1991); ‘we’ are given the dates, which are fairly close together, but no volumes. ‘We’ are then expected to add to our graph a single point representing the volume of stuff from all the volcanoes that erupted during the great Flood and soon thereafter (inferred only from the materials left behind); again no volume but I suppose we can estimate the date. ‘We’ are supposed to conclude an exponential decline in the power of earth’s volcanoes over time.

    Having insulted our intelligence once, he then gives us a diagram giving volumes but no dates for a few eruptions, restricted to the US, so presumably of recent date or of dates obtained by the scientific dating methods that the author despises.

    He is then back to his ‘exponential’ decline with supervolcanoes, mega-earthquakes, supercurrents of flowing water and mud, and hypercanes. ‘Intoxicated by the exuberance of his own verbosity’ comes to mind.

    This A&F is pathetic; just something thrown together to fill the space.

    • Looking at how it appears in the pdf, it most likely is a filler. The next one I’ve got lined up quite definitely is not, but I think you’ll find it’s no less pathetic…

  2. I recently emailed Creation Ministries International about their 2011 claim from Russell Humphreys (not yet fully online) that argon dating and argon diffusion rates deep below ground near the Valles Caldera supervolcano (last known eruption 1.1 million years’ ago) reveals that Earth is ‘around 5,100’ years old.

    Here it is, should you be interested:
    (1) Response to Gary Loechelt in Journal of Creation 24(3) concerning
    helium 4 diffusion at Fenton Hill, New Mexico – see the pdf for pages

    As well as saying nothing about increased pressure at depth affecting
    diffusion rates, the author seeks to argue that temperatures at depth
    in the comparatively recent past were higher than suggested in past
    science papers (thus meaning faster diffusion should have happened).

    “Instead, the authors (and Loechelt) appear to believe that the
    temperature at 3 km depth was
    around 87C for almost the entire age of the basement rock, an alleged
    1.5 Ga”…”Clear observational data trump theoretical models any day of
    the week. Sasada’s observation-based graph (my figure 4) provides an
    accurate overall picture of past temperatures in the borehole”.

    But Humphreys seeks to argue that – after the last eruption of the
    nearby Valles Caldera ‘supervolcano’ around the claimed 1.1 million
    years’ ago – the temperature never fell below 170C. Even though
    Sasada’s graph suggested that it fell lower than that (to an
    undetermined temperature). Humphreys writes: “Temperatures rose to a
    broad maximum, say about 250C, about 0.9 million years ago, declining
    slowly to a minimum of about 170C twenty thousand years ago, then
    rising rapidly to today’s 197C”. And then offers a ‘best uniformitarian
    “The broad maximum of 250C, lasting for hundreds of millennia, would
    wipe out most of the helium that might have accumulated in the previous
    1.5 Ga” and “The whole estimated temperature history would leave less
    than 0.002% of the helium. That is far lower than the observed 17%

    Humphreys concludes (as previously):
    “Model 1 shows that if the volcano erupted the alleged one million
    years ago, essentially no helium would remain” and “The helium data
    still strongly support the biblical timescale of 6,000 years”.

    (2) New paper in Journal of Creation 25(2): the article ‘Argon
    diffusion data support RATE’s 6,000-year helium age of the Earth’ is
    unlikely to be made available on the internet until August 2012, but I
    have a copy of the magazine. Note that this paper – published August 2011 – contains a NEW YEC claim to have discovered a 6,000 year old Earth as a result of
    argon diffusion rates (the paper has since been referred to on the CMI
    and ICR websites).

    On the basis of a 1986 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research
    ‘Constraints on age of heating at the Fenton Hill site, Valles Caldera,
    New Mexico’, and some rather daunting equations, Humphreys argues that
    a feldspar sample from a depth of 4.56 km is approximately 5,100 years’
    old – and this corresponds with the true age of the EARTH.

    Yet the Abstract of the 1986 paper clearly states: “The maximum
    estimates of peak heating duration during this recent thermal event are
    between 3 and 60 ka” and “Model studies indicate the age of the shallow
    thermal disturbance to be about 10 ka. With reasonable constraints on
    the source of the deep thermal disturbance, it must lie within a few
    kilometers of the site, and its maximum age is estimated to be less
    than about 40 ka. Thus heating at the Fenton Hill site appears to be
    much younger than the main caldera event at about 1 Ma and is probably
    related to a magmatic and/or hydrothermal event very close to Fenton
    Hill during the last few tens of thousands of years”.

    Humphreys writes: “Since their assumed ‘transient’ heating episode
    lasts until the present, the ‘heating durations’ above are really age
    estimates”. WHY? Is he suggested that the moment when the feldspar
    crystallised (and wasn’t molten) represents the moment Earth was
    created? On what basis?

    Whilst it is mentioned early on, this paper also appears largely to
    IGNORE (when it comes to argon instead of helium diffusion) the Sasada
    DATA that the 2010 response to Loechelt appeared to value – see the
    quotation above. Humphreys takes the temperature as being a constant
    313C or so during the diffusion history of the sample.

    Humphreys is claiming TOO MUCH argon for a billion year old Earth, and
    says that if you assume both (greatly) accelerated nuclear decay in the
    past and also an ‘accelerated cooling mechanism’ you can assign an age
    of around 5,100 years – which supports ‘the biblical youth of the
    world’. The statement “the observed high argon retentions conflict
    severely with the uniformitarian-assumed long ages” is not fully
    justified or explained, although a couple of footnotes earlier in the
    same paragraph refer both to a 2005 RATE paper ‘Young helium diffusion
    age of zircons supports accelerated nuclear decay’ and the ‘best
    uniformitarian estimate’ at the end of the 2010 response to Gary

    Finally, I quote from ‘Radiometric Dating: a Christian Perspective’ by
    non-YEC Roger Wiens:
    “Whenever rock is melted to become magma or lava, the argon tends to
    escape. Once the molten material hardens, it begins to trap the new
    argon produced since the hardening took place. In this way the
    potassium-argon clock is clearly reset when an igneous rock is formed”;
    “However, in reality there is often a small amount of argon remaining
    in a rock when it hardens. This is usually trapped in the form of very
    tiny air bubbles in the rock. One percent of the air we breathe is
    argon. Any extra argon from air bubbles may need to be taken into
    account if it is significant relative to the amount of radiogenic argon
    (that is, argon produced by radioactive decays). This would most likely
    be the case in either young rocks that have not had time to produce
    much radiogenic argon, or in rocks that are low in the parent
    potassium. One must have a way to determine how much air-argon is in
    the rock. This is rather easily done because air-argon has a couple of
    other isotopes, the most abundant of which is argon-36. The ratio of
    argon-40 to argon-36 in air is well known, at 295. Thus, if one
    measures argon-36 as well as argon-40, one can calculate and subtract
    off the air-argon-40 to get an accurate age”;
    “Although potassium-argon is one of the simplest dating methods, there
    are still some cases where it does not agree with other methods. When
    this does happen, it is usually because the gas within bubbles in the
    rock is from deep underground rather than from the air. This gas can
    have a higher concentration of argon-40 escaping from the melting of
    older rocks. This is called parentless argon-40 because its parent
    potassium is not in the rock being dated, and is also not from the air.
    In these slightly unusual cases, the date given by the normal potassium-
    argon method is too old. However, scientists in the mid-1960s came up
    with a way around this problem, the argon-argon method”.

    • I admire your tenacity in dealing with these people but you are arguing with a fanatic, writing in a journal for fanatics, to be read by fanatics. His replies are not addressed to you, they are addressed to his fellow fanatics.

      Thus his reply to your objection starts with a Biblical quotation (a cynic would suggest that this is a case of, ‘Weak point, thump pulpit, quote scripture’) and then goes on to say that he is publishing in a ‘scientific journal’.

      It is rather amusing that having made a point about having silenced his critics, now that someone has raised another criticism, he now claims that, even after five years old-earthers are still worried.

      I went back to Humphreys et al’s original paper and saw something that I had not noticed before – the results were rushed out to meet the deadline for publication in time for a creationist conference.

      The whole paper gives no confidence that this is a properly conducted scientific investigation. Looking in the TalkOrigins Archive, the paper is well and truly shredded. Another thing that came back to me was the way that he fudged Magomedov’s (1970) results – I remember thinking at the time that he could have attempted to contact Magomedov – he would probably be working at, or have retired from, some Russian university and it should not have been difficult to find out if he was still alive. But then he did not have the least reason for wanting to contact him. Why let facts get in the way of a good (creationist) story?

      The really big problem with Humphreys’ argument is that we are expected to accept that his age is right, the conventional measurement of the age is wrong, every other scientific measurement of the age of anything over 6000 years is wrong, that radioactive decay was somehow accelerated in the past, and that the heat that should have been produced by the decay just did not happen. A rather deeper problem is that if Humphreys is right, it should be obvious to normal mortals without all this complication.

    • Nobody – except me (a ‘nobody’) – has yet attempted to debunk publicly eg online the 2011 claim that a ‘young’ Earth is revealed by not only helium diffusion at the New Mexico site but also by argon diffusion! I did copy my email – sent on 30 May – to Reasons to Believe (old Earth creationists).


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