Subject: a short course in flood geology [I am posting this for my husband, (Steve Watson)

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From: Seanna Watson 1333884 Subject: a short course in flood geology [I am posting this for my husband, (Steve Watson) who used to contribute to this group when he had a job and a Sun and usenet access. Neither he nor I agree with the views of Dr. Brown as detailed below, but Steve gets a perverse pleasure from attending creationist seminars.] This is a long post, but there's a joke at the end :). On Friday 18 October, 1991, at Carleton University, Dr. Walter Brown, director of the Center for Scientific Creation gave a talk entitled "New Departures in the Origins Debate for the 90's". His appearance, sponsored by Citizens for Origins Research and Education (CORE), was basically a promotion for his all-day seminar "In the Beginning", which is coming here in a couple of weeks. The question and answer period afterwards was moderated by Dr. Paul Merkley of the Carleton history dept. I note that Dr. Brown's degree (and most of his work experience) is in mechanical engineering: isn't it remarkable how many engineers are on the cutting edge of pseudo-science (creationism, crop circles)? I have some speculations about why this should be, which might make an interesting thread on the appropriate group (BTW, I am an engineer, so I have a right to kvetch about this). My wife was annoyed to learn that Brown is a fellow MIT alumnus. On the whole, though, he managed to sound considerably more intelligent than did Duane Gish last February. First, Dr. Brown explained what Creationists (well, at least some) want: 1) No religious doctrines or writings should be taught or ridiculed in the public classroom. 2) All major scientific evidence regarding origins should be taught at the appropriate grade level. 3) If evolution is taught, then evidence opposing it should also be taught. He emphasized that this was to be accomplished strictly by persuasion and education of science teachers, school boards, etc. In his view, legislation and/or court action in this area are inappropriate. So far it all sounds pretty reasonable.... Next he presented his scientific (I'll be charitable and omit the quote marks) ideas: The largest part of Brown's talk was an attempt to explain how the fossil record got its current form; his theory is basically a variant of global-flood-with-hydrological-sorting. It goes like this: 1) The Noachic flood was truly world-inundating (he said he knows where all the water came from and where it went, but we'd have to come to the seminar to find out. Sorry, I've got better ways to spend an entire Saturday). 2) On a world ocean, the moon raises truly immense tides (100's of feet), especially at certain latitudes where the propagation time of the tidal bulge around the world is in resonance with the synodic period. (Source on this: computer simulations by one Prof. M.E. Clarke). 3) At high tide the immensely greater pressure forces water into the bottom sediments (water being slightly compressible). The release of pressure at low tide causes soil liquefaction of the top several hunderd feet of the sediments, i.e. the water tries to come back out, and the soil particles separate, now having a lubricating film of water between them. Under these conditions the sediment behaves like a dense, viscous liquid. Note: Soil liquefaction is a legitimate phenomenom, which has been observed to occur during earthquakes (1964 quakes in Alaska and Japan being the textbook examples). In that case a shock to the sediments causes the liquefaction somehow (could one of the t.o. geologists clarify this please?). 4) Individual constituents separate by density, forming clear layers. In particular, animal carcasses and vegetation, buried by the initial onset of the flood, begin to float slowly upwards and sort themselves by density. In a sedimentation experiment conducted by Dr. Leonard Brand, animal carcasses sorted in the sequence: Birds Mammals Reptiles Amphibians i.e. in the sequence claimed by evolution! Whooops! Yes, I can hear some of you shouting from here: "Birds came BEFORE mammals!" Reviewing my notes afterwards, I kicked myself for not noticing this and questioning Brown on it. For some reason, no one else seemed to pick up on it either. However, he did say that Brand's work was preliminary and more experiments of this type were needed. Maybe they'll get it right if they try harder :-) Actually, having birds end up on top is quite predictable: they have hollow bones to reduce weight. Of course, so did some large dinosaurs. So why aren't they above the mammals, too? 5) When water escaping upwards through well-sorted sediments encounters a layer of lower permeability, a 'water lens' will form, i.e. the upper layer will actually separate from the lower, the space being filled by water. The upper layers may now actually begin to slide on the lower (especially if the beds are tilted), riding on the water lens. He claims you can explain various geological features (overthrusts, unconformities) by this. Dr. Brown then gave a comparison between results predicted by his model (global flood causing soil liquefaction) and the standard "evolutionary" model: Feature Evolution Liquefaction ======= ========= ============ Fossil Sorting Perfect sorting in General sorting, evolutionary sequence primarily by density [mentioned here he knew of 120 examples of 'reversed strata' in the USA, not all of which showed evidence of overthrust or faulting] Stratification Beds should be Much larger than river deltas ~size of river delta [claim: known river deltas are far too small to explain large (~10^5 sq.mi.) areas of sedimentation] Interfaces Usually fuzzy Usually sharp between layers boundaries (due to erosion) Coal Formation time ~10^7 yrs Vegetation would collect in Heat source unknown. mats & be buried. Compression due to tides during the Flood would provide heat. Overthrust Requires high pressure Water lenses (see above) and a lubricant. Well that's pretty much the gist of his theory. In my (non-expert) opinion it's pretty cute (by which I mean, I actually enjoyed watching him elucidate all this, with pictures. As I said, he was a *lot* more interesting than Duane Gish). For all I know there might actually be old geological features for which some process involving an episode of soil liquefaction provides the best explanation. But, but, but.... there were also a few little oddities which might raise the skeptic's eyebrow a bit (well, higher than it was already, if that's possible :-). To wit: Oddity #1> As an example of soil liquefaction in action, he gives the breaking of Atlantic submarine cables off the Grand Banks in 1929. Now the conventional explanation for this is that the breaks were due to turbidity currents (definition: a sediment-laden current of water flowing down the continental slope) triggered by an earthquake. Turbidity currents are also believed responsible for the carving of submarine canyons. He objects on two grounds: - times of cable failures indicate that the turbidity current would have to flow at 100mph, which he finds improbably high. I don't know where he got that figure from; my freshman geology text gives the speed as 25-34 mph (Press & Siever, _Earth_, 1974, pg. 429). - turbidity currents have never been observed in operation in nature. Even attempts to start them deliberately by underwater explosions have failed to produce one. Brown's explanation for the cable breaks is that tsunamis raised by the earthquake compressed the bottom, causing it to subside and leaving the cable hanging without support. Oddity #2> Amphibian footprints in sloping sandstone (in Grand Canyon). The tracks indicate the animal was walking somewhat sideways, as if it was being swept along by a current (so why didn't the current wash away the tracks too?). Brown's explanation: these amphibians were buried in mud, survived several hours, and then the bed they were in was liquefied and they emerged into a water lens. (Big Q: While I believe some amphibians can survive burial in mud, could they also withstand the pressure changes involved in Brown's liquefaction process?). After emergence, they were swept uphill along with the water which was escaping from between the layers. Why he thinks these little side-shows increase the credibility of his main point, I can't imagine! The Grand Canyon seems to be a happy hunting ground for creationists: apparently, there are also fish and angiosperms found in the Cambrian layers there, and horse (!) footprints in the Supai shale. Oddity #3> Sedimentary Quartzite (!) According to Brown, you geologists just don't understand quartzite. You always thought it was formed by slow metamorphosis of quartz sandstone: heat and pressure fused the quartz grains (Press & Siever). It wasn't. Hot water in a bed of quartz sand dissolved some of the SiO2, which then precipitated out when the temperature dropped suddenly. Why was the water hot? Compression by high tides, again. I think those amphibians (see Oddity #2) should have been fricasseed frogs long before they escaped... The whole point of this is to get quick formation of some layers in the Grand Canyon (time being one thing the creationist does *not* have in abundance). Oddity #4> Brown claims the Atlantic Ocean opened in ~150 days during the latter part of the Flood year. I asked him about the parallel magnetic strips on either side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. His answer: there is NO consistent pattern of magnetization on the ocean floor. The observed stripes tend to align with cracks, and some claimed reversals contradict plate tectonic theory. "The seminar explains this in detail." Oh well. Well that's enough for one post, except for the following: Brown talked about quicksand as an example of permanently liquefied soil. He dispelled the notion that quicksand 'sucks you down': it is simply a fluid. To prove this, he's going to jump into quicksand sometime within the next year. Unfortunately, he didn't give a precise time and place: I know some of you would just *love* to be there and, possibly, assist? :-) :-) /Steve Watson -- Seanna Watson Bell-Northern Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Opinions, what opinions? Oh *these* opinions. No, they're not BNR's, they're mine. I knew I'd left them somewhere.


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