Presentation on theme: "Grand Canyon. Theories Attempting to Explain the Grand Canyon."— Presentation transcript:
Theories Attempting to Explain the Grand Canyon
Hydroplate Theory Almost a mile thick layer of sediments (produced during the flood phase and sorted into distinct layers by liquefaction) settled through the flood waters, grain by grain. Consequently, about 20% of the flood water was trapped between those grains at the end of the flood. As that subsurface water escaped during the following years, much of today’s terrain was sculpted. Near the end of the flood, sliding, continental-size hydroplates, driven by gravity and lubricated below by water, accelerated away from the rising Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Atlantic floor. Within hours, the compression event crushed and buckled up earth’s major mountain ranges. To understand the origin of the Grand Canyon first requires recognizing and then explaining many strange aspects of major terrain features surrounding the Grand Canyon.
The Colorado Plateau Immediately after the flood, each mountain range began the slow process of settling into the upper mantle. (Mountains have roots that descend into the mantle, a fact known for over a century. The hydroplate theory explains the forces, energy, and mechanism that sank these roots and when it happened.) The mass pushed aside by a sinking mountain increased the mantle’s upward pressure next to that mountain range, forcing the weakest portion of the crust to break and rise. Thus, plateaus rose next to settling mountain ranges. Examples include the Columbia Plateau next to the Cascades, the Himalayan Plateau (the largest, highest plateau in the world) next to the Himalayan Mountains (the most massive and highest mountain range in the world), and the Colorado Plateau next to the Rocky mountains. These uplifts were accompanied by considerable faulting, frictional heating, melting, and volcanic activity within each plateau. Large blocks, when lifted, became cliffs and block-faulted mountains. North of the Grand Canyon are many examples: Utah’s Book Cliffs, Roan Cliffs, the Grand Staircase (Vermilion Cliffs, White Cliffs, Grey Cliffs, Pink Cliffs), and many others. Draining flood waters left every continental basin full of water, so right after the flood, the earth had many more lakes than today, some quite large.
The Funnel Imagine a postflood lake, the size of Lake Superior, at an elevation of 5,700 feet, high on the Colorado Plateau. We will call this lake Grand Lake. Below it to the southwest is the 2,000-foot-high Echo- Vermilion cliff system. The lake steadily gains water from rainfall, drainage from higher elevations, and spillage from higher lakes in the newly formed Rocky Mountains. Suddenly, Grand Lake breaches a point on its bank, spills over this cliff system, and catastrophically erodes the soft sediments, forming a steep, 18-mile-long channel shaped like a widening funnel. Because of the escaping water’s large volume and high velocity, the funnel at its far end erodes within weeks to a width of 12 miles and a depth of 3,000 feet.
Grand and Hopi Lakes The funnel region, carved by water suddenly released from Grand Lake, is marked by the red circle. This map lies in the southwest corner of the Colorado Plateau.
Funnel from Above This computer-generated picture resembles a photograph taken from 35,000 feet above the “barbed” side canyons feeding into the Colorado River. (Barbed canyons and their diagnostic importance will soon be explained.) The surface and subsurface water that carved the barbed canyons flowed (yellow arrows) in a direction opposite to the flow of the Colorado River today (red arrows). Notice that Vermilion Cliffs and Echo Cliffs nearly align. The funnel in the top right corner cut through a single cliff system, giving us these two cliffs today. A giant, high-pressure hose, squirting from the upper right corner in the direction of the red arrows, would carve the funnel nicely.
Marble Canyon The originally horizontal sedimentary layers below the floor of the funnel steadily arch upward as weight is removed by this downward erosion. Eventually, the funnel’s floor—hard, brittle Kaibab limestone—cracks in tension, splitting open the entire floor parallel to the funnel’s axis and forming Marble Canyon. Water tables (porous, water-saturated, sedimentary layers) cut by this deep crack begin rapidly spilling their waters into Marble Canyon. Subsurface drainage channels into Marble Canyon begin to form. (Initially, this underground flow is perpendicular to the canyon walls. These thick sedimentary layers will dip to the north, so the underground flow channels will primarily flow to the north, then “hook in” perpendicular to Marble Canyon.) Directly above these underground drainage channels, the earth sinks, forming valleys entering Marble Canyon. Instead of “sink holes,” we have hundreds of shallow “sink valleys.” These underground “pipes,” in effect, grow in diameter as subsurface water increasingly flows through them, so the larger “pipes” capture even more subsurface water. Eventually, only a few very large, subsurface drainage channels are spilling out at fairly even intervals along Marble Canyon. Also, surface water pouring out of the sides of the funnel spill into some sink valleys more than others, thereby eroding them from the earth’s surface down, allowing them to capture even more surface water.
Satellite Photograph of the Funnel and the “Backward” Barbed Canyons The dashed line shows approximately where the Echo- Vermilion Cliffs were connected before the funnel was cut.
Potholes Here at almost the highest point on Echo Cliffs, at the point marked by the yellow dot, is a weathered pothole. (Partially seen in at the bottom left and right are two other similar potholes.) Potholes form when a whirling stone, caught in a vortex of a fast flowing stream, grinds down, carving a cylindrical depression. Why was water flowing so rapidly this high (6,654 feet) above sea level and at the edge of a 2,000 foot cliff? (In the extreme top left corner, you can see the edge of the cliff and far below.) When Grand Lake breached and began spilling over the Echo-Vermilion cliff system marked by the dashed, its south flowing water carved these potholes. Weeks later, the miles-wide funnel was carved to the west of the potholes. Had the funnel been a few feet wider at this location, the rock where a geologist acquaintance is standing would have been swept away. In carving the Grand Canyon that begins 30 miles to the south, a few thousand cubic miles of dirt were removed, causing northern Arizona to rise and tip slightly to the north. This is why the funnel’s floor (hard Kaibab limestone) rises more than a thousand feet as one proceeds southward along the top of Marble Canyon. Echo and Vermilion Cliffs—and these potholes—also rose by a like amount. All the layers exposed in these cliffs and in the walls of Marble Canyon show this tipping.
Where Marble Canyon Began Water from Grand Lake spilled out near the top right corner of this picture and flowed violently toward the bottom left corner, eroding this funnel-shaped region. As huge amounts of material were removed, the horizontal sedimentary layers below—no longer pressed down by so much weight— rose, arched upward, stretched, and cracked. Subsurface water then began spilling into this deep, minutes-old crack, called Marble Canyon. Notice the many small “sink valleys” and their tiny tributaries near the edge of Marble Canyon. Only a few were able to capture much of the water spilling out of Vermilion Cliffs (at the top of the picture) and Echo Cliffs (at the right side of the picture). Those that did, eroded downward, allowing them to capture even more water. They became barbed canyons. Can you see why they are fairly evenly spaced along Marble Canyon? Thirty miles to the south, this deep, relatively narrow slit—Marble Canyon—joins the Grand Canyon. Vermilion Cliffs and Echo Cliffs were previously joined, but today mark the funnel’s western and eastern boundaries. The layers in these boundaries clearly show the upward arching.
Grand Canyon The south flowing torrent of water from Grand Lake undercuts the northwestern corner of Hopi Lake (elevation 5,950 feet), releasing its waters as well. Their combined waters, now sweeping westward over northern Arizona, first remove approximately 1,000 feet of the soft sediments above the hard Kaibab limestone. As this weight is removed across almost 10,000 square miles south and west of the funnel, deeper sedimentary layers arch upward, stretching and in some places cracking open the hard Kaibab limestone above.
Near the point where Hopi Lake’s high shoreline is breached, a waterfall, greater than a hundred Niagara Falls, breaks loose. So much Kaibab limestone and overlying material is removed that the weaker, compressed layers below begin buckling upward to form the Kaibab Plateau. As the plateau rises, rushing water from both lakes is channeled through the lowest points, cutting its narrow path downward at the rate the land rises. This focuses the westward, erosive flow of these escaping waters.
The deeper the cascading water cuts below the high, postflood water table, the more high-pressure water is released from the flanks of the lengthening channel. Each sedimentary particle becomes a cutting tool carried by the rapidly flowing (and falling) water. In a few weeks, 1,000 cubic miles of sediments from the Kaibab limestone and below are removed, forming the Grand Canyon.
Although Marble Canyon adjoins the Grand Canyon, their shapes and widths are so different that the two canyons have different names. The differences are explained when one realizes that the changes begin where the northwest corner of Hopi Lake was undercut by the rushing waters from Grand Lake— where the Little Colorado River today joins the Colorado River. In other words, Marble Canyon was formed by the waters of Grand Lake, while the Grand Canyon was formed by the merged waters of both Grand and Hopi Lakes. Today, the basin that held Grand Lake is drained by the Colorado River and several of its tributaries, while the basin that held Hopi Lake is drained by the Little Colorado River. Both basins contain much evidence showing that they were once filled with silica-rich water that quickly escaped: mesas, buttes, spires, mounds, petrified forests, and canyons and hundreds of huge “pits” excavated by powerful, erupting springs.
A Very Deep Pit Along the eastern boundary of Grand Lake, just east of Rock Point, Arizona, are perhaps a hundred huge “pits.” (A 20-story building could be dropped in this pit.) None have any visible source of water that could have carved them, nor could the terrain direct much surface water to this spot. If surface water could not have eroded these pits, then subsurface water did. A camera is looking over the basin of Grand Lake. Behind, the land gradually rises to the east, reaching 9,200 feet, 23 miles away. When Grand Lake dumped, a gigantic reservoir of high water, trapped in the sand sediments along this portion of the lake’s boundary, quickly erupted as powerful springs into Grand Lake’s draining basin, excavating these pits.
Side Canyons of Marble and Grand Canyon Because Marble Canyon and Grand Canyon were rapidly cut far below the high water table, the water released from the flanks of Marble and Grand Canyons may have exceeded the water in both Grand and Hopi Lakes combined. Thus, dozens of large, previously unexplained side canyons were also cut and now enter Marble and Grand Canyons. Most of these side canyons have no appreciable water source today. A few are “backward.”
Barbed Canyons With all this weight quickly removed from northern Arizona, the rock layers below rose, tipping layers under the funnel and elsewhere down a degree or so to the north. Thus the subsurface flow (and the “sink valleys” above) began flowing toward the north. Water spilling out of the funnel walls—Vermilion Cliffs on the west and Echo Cliffs on the east—flowed into and deepened the north flowing “sink valleys,” giving them the shape of the barbs in barbed wire. Tributaries almost always enter rivers at acute angles. However, the barbed canyons are oriented at obtuse angles to the Colorado River; they are “backward.” Some barbed canyons are huge—a mile wide and 1,700 feet deep where they enter Marble Canyon.
North Canyon Notice the unusual curved layers bending up the sides of this barbed canyon. They may be unique to North Canyon, which enters Marble Canyon one mile behind. How did these layers form? Rapid erosion of the funnel stretched and cracked open the ground where Marble Canyon is today. Underground water, once several hundred feet beneath where we are walking, then began draining through water-saturated limestone into the crack (Marble Canyon) with rapidly increasing ease. Some of the thick limestone along the drainage path dissolved, causing the layers above to sink, forming a “sink valley.” Torrents of surface water entered this sink valley, eroded it deeper, and carved, from the surface down, most of this barbed canyon in weeks. The other barbed canyons formed in a similar way.
Side Canyons into Grand and Hopi Basins The water table surrounding Grand and Hopi Lakes, in effect, rose hundreds of feet after those lakes suddenly emptied. Several Great-Lakes worth of high-pressure, subsurface water were suddenly seeking underground escape routes into those basins. Weak spots and tiny channels were exploited by the ground water. Underground channels that opened up became destinations for even more ground water trying to escape. The more water that flowed through these channels and their tributaries, the larger those channels became. In this way, hundreds of canyons formed that today enter the basins of the former Grand and Hopi Lakes.
Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly Five side canyons (not shown) converge on this 800-foot spire: from the north, northeast, east, southeast, and south. It is hard to imagine surface terrain that would allow five streams to flow toward the same point from such different directions. However, subsurface flow, which is directed by subsurface porosity more than surface topography, could easily produce this effect. Obviously, Spider Rock was completely cemented before the water that carved these canyons swept through this location.
One of the most picturesque is Canyon de Chelly (dee SHAY), a group of canyons up to 25 miles in length that radiate to the east of Chinle, Arizona. Canyon de Chelly enters Grand Lake’s basin from the east, near its most southern location in Arizona. Streams and rivers produce canyons with V-shaped cross sections, but most of Canyon de Chelly has a U- shaped cross section. U-shaped cross sections are produced by glaciers or by ground water flowing out from and undercutting canyon walls. Because no other glacial characteristics are found within 800 miles, subsurface flow probably carved Canyon de Chelly.
Also, Canyon de Chelly has an abundance of rock debris at the base of the upstream walls but little debris at the downstream end. This is because the water flowing out from the walls all along the canyon flowed through the downstream end and cleaned out most of that debris. However, relatively little water passed through the upstream portions of the canyon. Subsurface flow is also seen from “Tunnel Overlook.” There, the upstream end of one side canyon begins at a ridge line, where there is no possibility of a source of much surface water.
Mesas, Buttes, and Spires Perhaps no land features symbolize the American southwest more than mesas, buttes, and spires. A mesa, which means table in Spanish, is a flat- topped feature which rises above the surrounding terrain. Its height is less than its width. A butte is similar, except its height is greater than its width. A very slender butte is a spire. The towering walls of these formations are strikingly vertical. How and when did they form?
Was it over millions of years or in several weeks? Why are buttes and spires concentrated in the basin of Grand Lake? Adjacent buttes contain corresponding horizontal layers, showing that they were once connected. What removed the huge volume of sediments between them? Where did the sediments go? The perimeters of buttes are not streamlined, but scalloped and irregular, so horizontally flowing streams did not carve them. (Besides, rivers and streams do not meander enough or flow in circles—a necessary first step if rivers carved buttes.) Nor did wind carve these features, because large sand dunes are missing. What happened?
Mesas, Buttes, and Spires Monument Valley, on the Arizona-Utah border, is the most famous location in the world for mesas, buttes, and spires. These features, also abundant for thousands of square miles surrounding Monument Valley, are inside the basin that held the former Grand Lake, a lake that probably existed for a few centuries after the flood. The long mesa spanning the horizon marks a small part of Grand Lake’s boundary. As Grand Lake dumped and began carving the Grand Canyon, 100–250 miles to the southwest of Monument Valley, deep water surged up through the lower portions of the lake floor and carried off the material that once connected these magnificent land forms. All were carved in a few weeks. Piles of dirt at the base of each mesa, butte, and spire were deposited by weathering after Grand Lake drained a few thousand years ago. Because buttes and spires were formed largely by nearby subsurface water, they are somewhat evenly spaced.
Beneath the basin of Grand Lake today is a 1,400-foot layer of sandstone. When Grand Lake was present, that sand was uncemented and saturated with water. Sand grains are hard and somewhat rounded, so water-saturated sand layers contain 38–46% water by volume. The relatively large channels between these grains allowed water under Grand Lake to flow up fairly easily. (The sedimentary layers under Hopi Lake contain less porous sediments, such as shale, so water escaping upward eroded only parts of the lake bottom. As Grand Lake breached and rapidly emptied, a tremendous amount of high-pressure water below the lake was forced upward through the lowest portions of the lake bottom—the easiest routes of escape. With those upward torrents of high-pressure water came swirling sand and dirt that was quickly swept out of Grand Lake and down through the forming Grand Canyon, 100–250 miles to the southwest. The highest portions of the lake bottom, including islands, offered the greatest resistance to the upward surging flow; consequently, these high regions remained intact. Mesas (along some of the lake boundaries) and buttes (internal to the lake) began to take shape.
Imagine sitting on the bottom of a shallow swimming pool. Your head barely sticks out of the water and, therefore, is an island. You exert little pressure on the bottom of the pool, because your body is buoyed up by the surrounding water pressure. (Such buoyancy is commonly called Archimedes' principle.) In other words, you almost float. Suddenly, someone pulls the plug, and the pool rapidly drains; now your entire weight presses against the floor of the pool. Had you been a newly forming butte sitting on the floor of the rapidly draining Grand Lake, you would quickly press down on 1,400 feet of water- saturated sediments. It would be as if, over a period of a few weeks, a 250,000,000-ton rock with an area of 1/4th of a square mile settled down on a water-saturated, 1,400-foot-thick sponge. Water would surge up around the base of the rock. This water erosion would cause the butte to become very slender, its perimeter scalloped, and its walls vertical. The banks of Grand Lake, now quite high, would also increase the pressure on the 1,400 feet of water directly below. If that water could escape upward, a bank segment would become a mesa. (Elsewhere, and under special conditions, a relatively few mesas and buttes formed earlier, as the flood water drained from the earth.)
It should be no surprise that the unexcelled Grand Canyon and the water in the huge, postflood lakes that formed the Grand Canyon should all be related to the best known mesa, butte, and spire region in the world. Conversely, if mesas, buttes, and spires were formed over millions of years by meandering streams—the “textbook” explanation—then mesas, buttes, and spires should be equally abundant worldwide. They are not.
Floor of Hopi Lake Southeast of Tuba City, Arizona, several hundred square miles were torn up, pulverized, and removed by subsurface water escaping upward through the floor of Hopi Lake as it dumped. No source of surface water exists today to do this excavation. The geologist at the extreme right gives the scale at one of these many ripped-up areas that stretch in some directions as far as the eye can see. The region’s predominately shale sediments, which contain a thin layer of coal and petrified wood, are much less porous than the water-saturated sand that lay 1,400 feet under Grand Lake. Therefore, as Hopi Lake discharged, high-pressure water, hundreds of feet below the floor, flowed violently up through a relatively small portion of the floor, then transported that material through the Grand Canyon that was forming 50–200 miles to the west.
Tourists gawk and geologists attempt to describe these “strange,” magnificent, and massive land forms, including the canyons, mounds, and “pits” of the region. Seldom understood is (1) how these features relate to each other, (2) the stupendous forces, energy, and mechanisms that made them, and (3) the event behind it all.
Question 1: Question 1: When did Grand Lake breach its natural dam?
After the flood, several time- consuming processes had to first occur.
a. The Rocky Mountains had to sink sufficiently into the mantle in order to lift the Colorado Plateau. b. The Colorado Plateau had to rise almost a mile to give the waters on the plateau enough energy to (1) erode about 1,000 feet of soft sediments over almost 10,000 square miles, and then (2) erode another 1,000 cubic miles to form the Grand Canyon. c. Enough time had to pass to cement—and prevent the collapse of—large sandstone objects now exposed in the basins that once held Grand and Hopi Lakes. These objects include giant caves in near vertical cliffs and the tall, vertical surfaces of spires. d. Sufficient time had to pass for the 300-foot-thick Kaibab limestone to harden across much of northern Arizona. (Hardening made the limestone brittle, so it cracked. Hardening also allowed the limestone to resist the torrent of water that swept over northern Arizona.)
e. Enough time had to pass for Hopi Lake to cool and its silica-rich waters to soak in and petrify floating logs. The world-famous Petrified Forest is in the basin that held Hopi Lake. f. Although not as time consuming, lava had to be produced, then erupt and solidify over a few isolated parts of northern Arizona to keep those regions from being eroded when Grand and Hopi Lakes breached. For example, Red Butte, 16 miles south of Grand Canyon Village, rises 1,000 feet. It was already capped by hardened lava. g. A waterfall has greater eroding power if it falls directly onto rock below, instead of into a pool of water covering that rock. Likewise, the released waters from Grand and Hopi Lakes had greater eroding power because the flood waters had already drained into our present oceans. This draining took a considerable amount of time. h. Time was required for animal migration to the Grand Canyon region. Some squirrels may have completed their migration before the canyon formed. i. Humans may have also lived in the region when the Grand Canyon formed. Two legends, while largely fictional, contain surprising elements consistent with the scientific evidence.
For these reasons, the Grand Canyon probably formed several centuries after the flood.
Question 2: Why do we not see clear shorelines around the boundaries of the former Grand and Hopi Lakes?
Scattered shorelines can be seen around several extinct lakes, such as Lake Bonneville and Lake Missoula, but the situations of these lower lakes were quite different. They probably breached centuries after Grand and Hopi Lakes, so Lake Bonneville and Lake Missoula had more time to etch their shorelines, while the empty basins of Grand and Hopi Lakes—subjected to frequent thunderstorms—had more time to erode and erase their shoreline markings. With higher, water-saturated terrain surrounding Grand and Hopi Lakes, more surface and subsurface water flowed faster and over a longer time, removing shorelines and deposits typical of lower breached lakes. After the flood, the Colorado Plateau slowly lifted Grand and Hopi Lakes about one mile. No doubt this altered the shapes of their basins—and shifted their shorelines. (Shifting shorelines have less time to leave permanent etchings in the rocks at each level.) Even the slightest tipping of the rising plateau and the frequent faulting and volcanism, whose results we see today, greatly changed shorelines. Also, Grand and Hopi Lakes received and lost water at higher than normal rates, because of heavy post-flood rainfall and increased evaporation on the high plateau. Drainage from higher elevations and the breaching of higher lakes no doubt added water to Grand and Hopi Lakes and raised their shorelines.
As Grand and Hopi Lakes emptied, subsurface water surrounding the lake basins quickly became relatively high water with large hydrodynamic heads. Powerful springs were released into the draining basins. That water sometimes undercut and steepened the basins’ slopes, forming cliffs around these lakes and their islands. (Shorelines became mesas, and islands became buttes. Where water continued to pour out of these cliffs, mesas were destroyed and buttes were scalloped and narrowed.) Consequently, many shorelines of Grand and Hopi Lakes are marked—not by small shelves as with Lake Bonneville and Lake Missoula—but by cliffs. Supporting this is Edmond W. Holroyd’s detailed study showing that a remarkable number of cliffs lie on the proposed boundaries of Grand and Hopi Lakes.
Visitors driving through or flying over the basins of Grand and Hopi Lakes see a land that differs from adjacent terrain. The basins have a smoother texture, lighter color, and sparser vegetation. A frequent comment is, “It looks like a lake bottom.”
Question 3: Where did all the dirt go?
One thousand cubic miles of sediments from inside the Grand Canyon were spread downstream from the Canyon, a hundred or so miles on either side of the present Colorado River. Today, these sediments, composed of rounded boulders mixed with clay, are exposed where streams have cut channels 100–200 feet deep. The rounded boulders show that they were transported by high-velocity water. The unsorted mixture of clay and boulders indicate that the turbulent water suddenly slowed, depositing the unsorted mixture.
The Origin of Limestone
White Cliffs An extensive layer of limestone is exposed on both sides of the English Channel: in the cliffs of Normandy, France (Left top) and the White Cliffs of Dover, England (Left bottom). This 600–1,000-foot layer extends under the Channel and into England and France. Was this region, and others like it, a shallow sea that slowly accumulated limestone or did the limestone come from subterranean water chambers? Answering this question will provide insight on the geologic history of the entire earth.
SUMMARY: Too much limestone exists on earth to have been formed, as evolutionists claim, by present processes such as from shelled creatures and corals. Most limestone was deposited as the subterranean water violently escaped to the earth’s surface during the flood. Simultaneously, fresh carbon, needed to rapidly reestablish plant life buried during the flood, was released into the biosphere.
Limestone, sometimes called calcium carbonate (CaCO3), accounts for 10–15% of all sedimentary rock. Any satisfactory explanation for sedimentary layers and the world’s fossils they contain must also explain the enclosed limestone layers and limestone cement.
1 ) What is the origin of the earth’s limestone? Remarkably, earth’s limestone holds a thousand times more calcium and carbon than today’s atmosphere, oceans, coal, oil, and living matter combined. A simple, visual examination of limestone grains shows that few are ground-up sea shells or corals, as some believe. 2 ) How were sediments cemented to form rocks? Specifically, how were large quantities of cementing agents (usually limestone and silica) produced, transported, and deposited, often quite uniformly, between sedimentary grains worldwide? This requires answering two questions—rarely asked and perhaps never before answered.
Answering these questions in the context of the hydroplate theory will answer another question: What was the source of the carbon dioxide (CO2) needed to reestablish vegetation after the flood? Remember, preflood vegetation was buried during the flood, most of it becoming our coal, oil, and methane deposits.
Limestone Chemistry Limestone, often difficult to identify by sight, is quickly identified with the “acid test.” If a drop of any acid, such as vinegar, is placed on limestone or a rock containing limestone, it will fizz. The acid combines with the limestone to release fizzing bubbles of CO2 gas. As you will see, limestone and CO2 gas are intimately related. Another common chemical reaction involving limestone begins when CO2 dissolves in water, forming a weak acid (carbonic acid). If that slightly acidic solution seeps through ground containing limestone, limestone will dissolve until the excess CO2 is consumed. If that solution then seeps into a cave, evaporation and loss of CO2 will reverse the reaction and precipitate limestone, often forming spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.
A third example of this basic reaction is “acid rain.” With the increase in atmospheric CO2 in recent decades, especially downwind from coal-burning power plants, CO2 dissolves in rain forming “acid rain.” Acid rain can harm vegetation and a region’s ecology if not neutralized, for example by coming in contact with limestone. Finally, limestone sometimes precipitates along the coasts of some eastern Caribbean islands, making their normally clear coastal waters suddenly cloudy white. Studies of this phenomenon have shown that limestone precipitates when CO2 suddenly escapes from carbonate-saturated ground water near the beach.
These four examples are summarized by the following reversible chemical reaction.
To summarize, when liquid water [H2O (l)] containing dissolved (or aqueous) CO2 [CO2(aq)] comes in contact with solid limestone [CaCO3(s)], the limestone dissolves and the chemical reaction moves to the right. Conversely, for every 44 grams of CO2 that escape the solution, 100 grams of limestone precipitate and the reaction moves back to the left. Little temperature change occurs with either reaction.
A Scenario Let’s suppose that before the flood the subterranean chamber contained some CO2 and a large amount of limestone, perhaps lining the chamber’s walls. Any gaseous CO2 was quickly “squeezed” into solution by the great pressure from the weight of the crust above the chamber. The subterranean water therefore was acidic, and some of the solid limestone dissolved until the available CO2 was consumed in the reaction written above. As this subterranean water escaped to the earth’s surface during the flood, the water’s pressure dropped drastically, so CO2 gas and microscopic, milky-white particles of limestone came out of solution. The escaping water scoured out the relatively soft limestone. Considerable CO2 entered the atmosphere, and tiny limestone particles spread throughout the flood waters.
Superimposed on this general pressure decrease were extreme pressure fluctuations from waves and water-hammer action. Within each tiny volume of liquid, limestone could precipitate as the pressure dropped. An instant later, a nearby pressure jump dissolved even solid chunks of limestone brought up from the subterranean chamber. The turbulent conditions caused carbon to jump back and forth from one side of the above equation to the other. Therefore, fine particles of limestone were precipitated throughout the escaping flood waters.
Limestone’s solubility in the escaping water also decreased, because the water’s pressure dropped enormously. Therefore, some limestone precipitated without releasing CO2. Later, liquefaction sorted all precipitated particles into more uniform layers of limestone. Surface waters, especially oceans, are huge reservoirs of CO2. Oceans, lakes, rivers, and ground water hold 50 times more CO2 than our atmosphere. Any excess CO2 entering the atmosphere eventually causes CO2 elsewhere to dissolve in surface waters. In other words, a steady-state equilibrium (i.e., an approximate balance) exists between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and in surface waters.
Sediments, eroded during the initial stages of the flood, settled through the flood waters all over the earth. After most of these waters drained into the newly formed ocean basins, limy (alkaline) water filled and slowly migrated through pore spaces between sedimentary particles. Plentiful amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere after the flood provided the necessary “food” to help reestablish earth’s plants, including forests. As plants grew and removed CO2 from the atmosphere, surface waters released additional CO2, thereby precipitating more limestone. Limestone that precipitated between loose sedimentary grains cemented them together into rocks.
Tiny particles of precipitated limestone are excellent cementing agents when near- saturation conditions exist. Smaller and more irregular particles of limestone readily dissolve; larger particles grow, sealing cracks and gaps. Precipitation within a closely packed bed of sediments (cementation) occurs more readily than precipitation outside the bed.
Nine observations explained by this scenario:
1. Volcanic Gases Approximately 20% of all volcanic gases, by volume, is CO2, and 70% is steam. This water and CO2 are probably remnants of the subterranean water. If not, what could possibly be the source of the carbon? Carbon is rarely found in basement or igneous rocks.
2. Carbon Distribution Could today’s surface waters have always been at the earth’s surface while the earth’s limestone slowly precipitated? Not based on the surprising distribution of carbon on earth.
Here is the problem. The chemical equation shows that for every carbon atom precipitated in limestone, a carbon atom is released in CO2. Had all limestone slowly precipitated in surface waters, as much carbon would have been released into the atmosphere as CO2 as was precipitated as limestone. Limestone contains more than 60,000,000 x 1015 grams of carbon. That amount of carbon in the atmosphere and seas would have made them toxic thousand of times over. Today, the atmosphere and seas contain only ( ,400) x 1015 grams of carbon.
How did all of today’s limestone get here? As each molecule of CO2 was released into the escaping flood waters, a molecule of limestone precipitated. That CO2 molecule, driven by large, rapid pressure fluctuations, cycled many times between dissolving and precipitating limestone. Much of the solid limestone in the subterranean chamber before the flood was dissolved and precipitated as the water escaped. In the end, the atmosphere gained enough CO2 to bring the total carbon in the biosphere up to today’s level of ( , ,400) x 1015 grams.
Some limestone must also have come from shallow, pre-flood sea bottoms, because today limestone deposits often contain abundant fossils of corals, crinoids, bryozoans, and foraminifers. These shallow-water animals must have lived before the flood in the presence of limestone. During the flood, that limestone was eroded, transported, and deposited with those animals entombed.
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico “... one of the most controversial points is how long it takes for a cave such as S.P. [Kartchner Caverns in Arizona] to form. What geologists used to believe was fact, in terms of dating a cave, now is speculation, [cave expert, Jerry] Trout says.... From 1924 to 1988, there was a visitor’s sign above the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns that said Carlsbad was at least 260 million years old.... In 1988, the sign was changed to read 7 to 10 million years old. Then, for a little while, the sign read that it was 2 million years old. Now the sign is gone. In short, he says, geologists don’t know how long cave development takes. And, while some believe that cave decorations such as S.P.’s beautiful icicle-looking stalactites take years to form, Trout says that through photo- monitoring, he has watched a stalactite grow several inches in a matter of days.”
3. Rapid Stalactite and Stalagmite Formation Frequently the claim is made that stalactites and stalagmites required millions of years to form. More and more people recognize that this conclusion assumes these limestone formations always grew at today’s extremely slow rate. Under favorable physical and chemical conditions common after the flood, huge stalactites and stalagmites can grow rapidly. Acidic ground water, more plentiful than ever in the centuries after the flood, frequently seeped into cracks in limestone rocks, dissolved limestone, and formed underground caverns. As ventilation in caverns improved and plant growth removed CO2 from the atmosphere, CO2 escaped from this ground water. Large quantities of limestone precipitated, rapidly forming stalactites and stalagmites worldwide.
4. Organic Limestone Shallow-water organisms, such as corals, shelled creatures, and some types of algae, remove dissolved limestone from seawater to build hard body parts. (The more abundant the dissolved limestone, the faster the growth rates. Thus, coral growth rates were much higher after the flood.) Because some organisms produce limestone, evolutionists conclude that almost all limestone came from organisms, and hundreds of millions of years are needed to explain thick deposits of limestone. Instead, organic limestone is a result of inorganic limestone, not its cause. Inorganic limestone precipitated rapidly from the subterranean water released during the flood. Surface waters could not have held the 60,000,000 x 1015 grams of carbon needed to produce today’s limestone without making them hundreds of times too toxic for sea life to exist.
We can reject in two other ways the common belief that most limestone has an organic origin. Wave action and predators can fragment shells and other hard parts of marine organisms. However, as fragments become smaller, it is more difficult to break them into smaller pieces. With increasingly smaller pieces, the forces required to break them again become unreasonably large before the pieces reach the size of typical limestone grains.
Finally, organic limestone is structurally different and more intricate than inorganic limestone. Organic limestone crystals are more uniformly sized, oriented, and packaged— characteristics now detectable with high magnification. Earth’s vast limestone layers are overwhelmingly inorganic.
In summary, immense amounts of limestone precipitated rapidly during the flood. Seawater contains dissolved inorganic limestone. Corals and shelled creatures take in these dissolved chemicals and produce intricate organic limestone.
Redwall Limestone Exposed in and around the Grand Canyon Stained red from iron oxide impurities, the 400-foot- thick Redwall Limestone extends over most of northern Arizona. If it formed in a shallow sea (25–50 feet deep), how did such great thicknesses develop? How could another famous limestone formation, the 6- mile-thick Bahamas Bank, form?
5. Thick Limestone Banks Scattered off the east coast of the United States are thick limestone deposits. Most dramatic is the Bahamas Bank, an area 250 by 800 miles, where “seismic evidence suggests that carbonate strata may extend down as far as 10 kilometers [6 miles].” If limestone formed organically in shallow seas (the prevailing view), why would the seafloor slowly subside almost 6 miles to allow these accumulations? Subsidence rates would have to be just right for the millions of years needed for organisms to grow and accumulate to such depths. Besides, the seafloor cannot subside unless the rock below it gets out of the way. That rock would have nowhere to go.
Apparently, the flood waters escaping from under the eastern edge of the North American hydroplate dumped limestone there. Similarly, waters escaping from under the western edge of the European hydroplate may have dumped the soft, fine-grained type of limestone known as chalk. Most famous are the exposed layers in England’s White Cliffs of Dover and France’s coast of Normandy. While chalk contains a few organic remains, most of it is inorganic.
6. Dolomite If a microscopic limestone crystal grows in a magnesium-rich solution, magnesium ions will, under certain conditions, occupy or replace exactly half the calcium ion locations in limestone, forming a common mineral called dolomite. Geologists frequently refer to “the dolomite problem.” Why is it a problem? Dolomite is not secreted by any known organism. If organisms deposited almost all limestone over hundreds of millions of years, how did dolomite form?
Dolomite is frequently found in contact with limestone and is strangely distributed on earth. It has hardly ever formed in recent times. Therefore, magnesium-rich solutions must have been much more abundant when older rocks were deposited.
Some geologists reject precipitation of dolomite, because of “the great thicknesses of dolomite rock that are found in the geologic record.” Others say that a lot of magnesium-rich water trickled through limestone, but that raises even more problems. How did it trickle so uniformly through such great depths? Why would this “trickling” happen so often near limestone—and primarily in the ancient past? What was the source of the magnesium?
Magnesium ions may have been in the subterranean water, or dolomite and other minerals containing magnesium may have been in the subterranean chamber. Another possibility is that the magnesium came from the chamber floor itself, because basalt contains large amounts of magnesium. In any of these cases, the presence of dolomite near limestone and the even distribution of magnesium throughout what would otherwise be limestone becomes easily understood.
7. Worldwide Cement Evolutionists believe that most limestone was produced organically in shallow seas, because corals and shelled creatures live in shallow seas, which are generally warmer and have higher evaporation rates. With greater evaporation, the remaining solution is more likely to reach concentrations whereby organisms can produce shells and other forms of limestone. Organic limestone is primarily produced within 30 degrees of the equator. However, limestone layers and cement are not concentrated near the equator. Rocks are just as likely to be held together with limestone cement at all latitudes. Obviously, whatever produced limestone was global in scope.
8. Silica After limestone, silica (SiO2) is the second most common cementing agent in rocks. Derived from quartz, silica dissolves only 6 parts per million in pure water at 77°F (25°C). As temperatures rise, more silica goes into solution. At 300°F (150°C), silica concentrations reach 140 parts per million. If a silica-rich solution occupied the pore space between sand grains, silica would precipitate on their solid surfaces as the water cooled, cementing loose grains into rocks.
Only under high pressure can water reach such high temperatures. The hydroplate theory shows how both high temperature and pressure conditions existed at various locations and times during the flood. Frictional sliding of deep rock surfaces generated enormous heat which melted rock, forming magma. These hot surfaces heated deep, high-pressure water containing abundant quartz grains.
Sediments often fell through silica-rich water. Therefore, the cementing solution was frequently in place between deposited sedimentary particles. It is difficult to imagine another scenario in which so much superheated liquid water could dissolve silica, distribute silica-rich solutions worldwide, and then, before they cooled, force them down into sediments where cementing could occur.
Broken Logs in Arizona’s Petrified Forest How could a petrified log break this way? To petrify, a log must be saturated with silica-rich solutions, probably in a large lake. For a log to snap this cleanly, it must have been petrified before it broke. Being petrified and dense, it would have rested on the lake floor before it broke. For the log to break into many pieces that later reorient themselves, a sharp, powerful blow must have acted on the entire log. A heavy, petrified log lying on a lake floor seems unlikely to break into many pieces that are later reoriented. However, if the boundary of a large lake were breached, like the collapse of a dam, the lake’s waters would rush out in a torrent, carrying even sunken petrified logs for some distance. As a rapidly moving petrified (brittle) log “crashed” back onto the lake bottom, it would break up, much as an aircraft crashing in a field.
9. Petrified Forests As the flood waters drained off the continents, continental basins became lakes. Trees floating in warm post-flood lakes sometimes became saturated with silica-rich solutions. Petrification occurred as the water cooled and silica precipitated on cellulose surfaces. Petrification has been duplicated in the laboratory when silica concentrations reach 140 parts per million. Arizona’s famous Petrified Forest lies in the center of what was Hopi Lake, while the petrified logs in Utah’s Escalante Petrified Forest and along the Green River both lie in what was Grand Lake. (The sudden emptying of both lakes eroded the Grand Canyon.)
Final Thoughts We have seen the consequences of the flood at the earth’s surface and below. In this discussion, we saw that earth’s vast limestone deposits are not adequately explained by evolutionary scenarios, but are best explained by the hydroplate theory.
In another discussion, we will look far above and see in many ways that the fountains of the great deep—powerful beyond description—expelled muddy water and rocks far into outer space. Some of those rocks, called meteorites, have since fallen back to earth. Those that were in contact with the subterranean water before the flood contain traces of the substances dissolved in that water. Some even contain small quantities of the liquid water and limestone.
Up until the last few years, meteorites were mishandled in the laboratory, so these traces were lost. Sadly, meteorites were cut open using saws lubricated and cooled by water. The water redissolved the chemical traces in the meteorite and carried them down the drain.
In 2000, a meteorite was discovered containing traces of many salts found in our oceans. As one authority stated, “The salts we found mimic the salts in Earth’s ocean fairly closely.” Actually, there was one big difference; limestone traces were a hundred times more abundant than expected. Again, this shows that most limestone came from the subterranean water chamber.
Incidentally, some claim this meteorite was from Mars. Before you accept that assertion, please read “Are Some Meteorites from Mars?”. The so-called “Martian meteorites” all “show evidence of being subjected to liquid water containing carbonate, sulfate, and chloride...” Therefore, rather than coming from Mars, they may have been part of the rock in direct contact with the subterranean water before the flood. Communications with Dr. C. Stuart Patterson (Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus) have been extremely helpful in developing many ideas in this discussion.
Special Thanks to: ICR – Institute For Creation Research Center For Scientific Creation Dr. Ray Bohlin, Probe Ministries Dr. Tim Standish, University Professor AIG – Answers In Genesis Origins Resource Association Northwest Creation Network CRSEF – Creation Research, Science Education Foundation