The Tiny Tranquil Flood

Callan Bentley is an American geologist who runs the blog known as Mountain Beltway on the American Geophysical Union’s network. If, for some strange reason, you don’t follow him there you may well at least know of him as the scientist who pointedly refused the use of one of his photos in the Discovery Institute’s book Darwin’s Doubt.*

At some point in February he and Alan Pitts were apparently looking at sediment exposed by a some road cuts in the Appalachian mountains. Specifically they were looking at what they thought was the Hampshire Formation, which is supposed to be terrestrial in origin (i.e. rivers rather than oceans). But within the outcrop they found a few metres of black marine sediment, containing bands of limestone and a variety of fossils. Bentley wrote: Continue reading

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Tim Clarey’s Better Explanation

About a week ago at his blog Naturalis Historia Joel Duff discussed the recent discovery in Argentina of the 240 million year old fossilised remains of a communal dinosaur latrine [EDIT: silly me, they’re not dinosaurs but Dinodontosaurs]. I suggest you go there for the details, but the most important point is that we have a number of sites of ~900 square metres in area and containining tens of thousands of individual coprolites (fossil poop). When originally reading his post I thought to myself that if I ended up writing my own piece on the subject it would be called “giant steaming piles of dinosaur shit” – while I have clearly changed my mind since this will still do for a subtitle, for reasons that will become clear.

Duff asked: “how [do] young earth creationists (YECs) interpret this fossil find?” Timothy L. Clarey, in Digging Into a Fossil Outhouse, provides an answer. He opens his article:

A group of paleontologists reported the discovery of concentrated fields of fossilized dung, called coprolite, in northwest Argentina. The closely-spaced dung piles are seen as evidence of gregarious behavior from large herbivores. However, does the great Flood provide a better explanation? Continue reading

Hot, But Not Enough

A mid ocean ridgeHere’s something that I intended to write back in August when the Acts & Facts article it comments on was new, but haven’t until now.

For me, one of the most interesting parts of what I do here is compare the description published by the ICR of a piece of “secular” research with the research itself and the other things that have been written about it. Even when I don’t write my own post on the ICR article – whether through a lack of time, or through boredom – I often take a look at the background to see how well the reality matches that which is presented by the ICR. One example has stuck with me for the last couple of months: Tim Clarey’s August Acts & Facts article, Hot Mantle Initiated Ocean and Flood Beginnings.

Thin, dense oceanic crust is formed at mid ocean ridges and destroyed a subduction zones. Around 130 million years ago the super-continent of Pangaea rifted apart, beginning the formation of the Atlantic ocean. Elsewhere over the same period pretty much all of the ocean floor has been replaced at least the once by the same process. Young Earth creationists obviously don’t believe that 130 million years has passed, but the reality of plate tectonics and its components continental drift and sea-floor spreading is so overwhelming that even they cannot deny it (though some do still insist that it is not happening today – here’s John Baumgardner countering some of Michael Oard’s claims to that extent). Indeed, they now incorporate the concept into their models of the flood in the form of “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics,” which posits that the last 100 million years plus of tectonic movements actually happened during the single Flood year.

The problems with this massive increase in the rate of geologic processes are legion, but not the topic of this post. Instead, we’re looking at what Clarey thinks a paper published online in March in Nature Geoscience means for the beginning of the Flood: Continue reading

Not Quite Jurassic Park

Culiseta annulataWe return once more to “soft tissues” (and other organic molecules) with Brian Thomas’ new article, Bloody Mosquito Fossil Supports Recent Creation. You’ve probably heard of this already: a fossil mosquito, found in an oil shale deposit (and not amber, as you might have expected), appears to contain blood. Or something like that, anyway. Thomas opens his article:

Scientists recently found blood remnants in a mosquito fossil trapped in a supposed 46-million-year-old rock. Could blood really last that long?

Already, we have a problem. We’re not talking about “blood” here, but “remnants” thereof. This is a key difference: the soft tissue argument put most simply is the claim that various organic molecules and/or structures found in fossils would have turned to dust if they really were as old as claimed (so therefore they are much younger). You cannot very well make this argument if what you are pointing to is the selfsame dust that you claim should be there if the fossils were old. The key issue then is what is actually in this fossil, and we should avoid being distracted by how long we think liquid, cell-containing red blood could last. Continue reading

The Faint Young Sun Paradox: 3 Solutions?

The snow surface at Dome C Station, AntarcticaFor the Wednesday news article Tim Clarey writes Sun Paradox Challenges Old Earth Theory.

To recap, the faint young Sun paradox comes from an apparent contradiction between observations in the fields of astronomy and geology. On the one had we know that many stars on the “main sequence” get hotter and brighter as they age: the Sun appears to be on the main sequence, and so a couple of billion years ago in the Archean it would have only around 75%-80% if its present output. Reduce the Sun to that level now and Earth would freeze over.

On the other hand the geological record of the Archean is sketchy at best, but evidence from fossil cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and raindrop imprints show that there was at least some liquid water somewhere on the planet at this time. There were some glaciations at the end of the period, but clearly not throughout.

A paradox then, and one that creationists are predictably fond of. Continue reading

Dinosaurs for Everyone

As you’ve probably heard, Ken Ham’s Creation Museum has recently acquired it’s very own Allosaurus skeleton. Ham boasts that it “is believed to have one of the four best-preserved Allosaurus skulls ever discovered.” He elaborates:

The new allosaur, as today’s news release states, “probably stood 10-feet high and 30-feet long. It stands out for a few reasons. It was found with its bones arranged in their correct anatomical positions relative to each other rather than in a scattered assortment of bones as is often the case. Also, much of the spine and 97% of the skull were found. Lastly, the skull is much larger than the famous ‘Big Al’ dinosaur at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana.”

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Mauritia: Another Ancient Microcontinent

India and Madagascar, Late CretaceousClaims of new “lost microcontinents” – often associated in the media with Atlantis – seem to be everywhere lately. For instance we have the recent Brazilian discovery of potentially continental rocks in the Atlantic ocean. Today ICR geologist Timothy L. Clarey has a beef with “Mauritia,” an Indian Ocean microcontinent under what is now Mauritius whose existence was proposed back in Febuary – he writes Outlandish Claims for Missing ‘Continent’.

A group of European scientists have announced the “discovery” of a small continent in the middle of the Indian Ocean that doesn’t exist on any known map. What is this proclamation based on? It’s based on the age estimates of some beach sand and a belief that the “absolute dates” the researchers determined are reliable and factual.

Clarey is not fond of this claim at all. Continue reading

Swimming with Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs left plenty of bones, but some also created another type of fossil: preserved track marks. A handful of these tracks were made from swimming dinosaurs, and a new paper in the Chinese Science BulletinA new Early Cretaceous dinosaur track assemblage and the first definite non-avian theropod swim trackway from China (open access) – reports on the discovery of one such find.

Timothy L. Clarey’s new article on these tracks is called Dinosaurs Swimming out of Necessity, but the “necessity” conclusion is entirely his own. His article is quite similar to one from Brian Thomas published in January which we looked at in Stampede? For instance both Thomas and Clarey chose to claim in their opening paragraphs that, in the present day, it is very difficult to form footprints that will eventually be preserved as fossils – here’s Clarey’s opener:

What’s so fascinating about dinosaur tracks? Maybe it’s because their many mysteries beg for solutions. For instance, because tracks in mud are so short-lived today, how did dinosaur tracks ever preserve in the first place? Newly described prints bolster biblical creation’s explanation of dinosaur footprints.

It may be true that it’s hard to preserve footprints in mud, but it’s not so improbable once you consider the shear number of footprints that would have been made over the more than 180 million years of the Mesozoic Era. Clarey never does explain, meanwhile, how “biblical creation” suddenly makes preservation so much easier – not even a “footprints need to be preserved rapidly” claim (which is false, by the way). Continue reading

Insta-Gold

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Striking It Rich with ‘Instant Gold’ (17 April 2013) Timothy L. Clarey points us to a Nature Geoscience paper called “Flash vaporization during earthquakes evidenced by gold deposits.” The gist is as follows:

The two scientists found that faulting events are key to gold deposit formation, where rocks split apart and quickly slip past one another, causing earthquakes. Faults through solid rock are never straight. Instead, they follow zigzag patterns that look like chain lightening and create small voids—openings in the rocks called “jogs.” Fast-forming jogs create instantaneous drops in pressure during movement, causing superheated deep waters to almost instantly “flash vaporize,” leaving behind thin coatings of gold and quartz.

Repeated earthquakes could build up the gold to levels that would be economical to mine. Continue reading

Dinosaurs! (Flood Part #2)

Arguably the most entertaining part of any creationist Global Flood model is where the dinosaurs come in to it. Indeed, as John Morris himself asks for our introductory article, How Do The Dinosaurs Fit In? Let’s find out…

Velociraptor mongoliensis

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