Some coral formations apparently show a longer year in the past, of about 400 days. This is taken as a confirmation of radiometric dating, since the earth's rotation should be gradually slowing down due to the effect of the moon and tides. Here is some information that was sent to me by a proponent of this method:
How does a flood explain the accuracy of "coral clocks"? The moon is slowly sapping the earth's rotational energy. The earth should have rotated more quickly in the distant past, meaning that a day would have been less than 24 hours, and there would have been more days per year. Corals can be dated by the number of "daily" growth layers per "annual" growth layer. Devonian corals, for example, show nearly 400 days per year. There is an exceedingly strong correlation between the "supposed age" of a widerange of fossils (corals, stromatolites, and a few others -- collected from geologic formations throughout the column and from locations all over the world) and the number of days per year that their growth pattern shows. The agreement between these clocks, and radiometric dating, and the theory of superposition... is a little hard to explain away as the result of a number of unlucky coincidences in a 300-day-long flood.
Clocks tied to the Earth's rotational energy lack the precision of isotopic dating methods, and they are only applicable to a small number of formations which have excellent preservation of fairly small details. However, they do provide an excellent (if rough) confirmation of the isotopic methods' accuracy.
The computation of the slowdown of the earth's rotation is not simple, however. If one extrapolates the current slowdown backwards, one obtains a rate that is too fast. So a correction is applied for resonances of the moon with tides. To me this is rather involved, and not convincing.
Also, if the earth was rotating faster in the past, it was not necessarily due to the elapse of time and the slowdown from tides. The earth could have been rotating faster more recently if there had been some kind of a catastrophe. There was even an article in Science, 25 July 1997, titled "Evidence for a Large-Scale Reorganization of Early Cambrian Continental Masses ..." in which the authors propose that at one time the lithosphere rotated 90 degrees. If we can assume the axis of rotation or crust of the earth are in motion for some reason, this could cause an apparent change in the length of the year. Maybe some event in the core of the earth or some gyroscopic effect or some asteriod impact would cause this. So it's not clear that one can even take a longer year from coral records as confirmation of assumed geologic time.
It is also possible that different lengths of the year in the past are due to unusual patterns of ocean currents or temperature or availability of nutrients, and not to the length of the year. Just having summer 20 days early one year and 20 days late the next might make the year seem 400 days long. If the axis of the earth were vertical in the past, there would have been no seasons at all, and the apparent years could have been caused by any number of factors.
Here is another scenario that could explain a different period for the year in recent history. Suppose a nearby supernova showered the earth with elementary particles, many of which passed through matter while only weakly interacting with it. But suppose that there were enough such particles to destabilize the nucleii of atoms slightly. This would not have much effect on most nucleii, but it would cause radioactive nucleii to decay. Thus one would have a rapid increase in the decay rate, which would make the matter of the earth and planets appear old very quickly. This would generate a lot of heat, which could lead to many volcano eruptions. It could also lead to convection currents in the core of the earth, redistributing the mass there and causing the rotation of the earth to speed up or slow down dramatically. Of course, this would lead to a major, worldwide catastrophe. In addition, there might be unusual gyroscopic effects. At the same time, the heating effect on another planet could have caused it to explode, producing the asteroids. At any rate, one could get changes in the length of year this way in recent history.
Varves are thin repetitive sedimentary layers that are used to argue for a long history of the earth. It is claimed that one varve was deposited each year. But to me, the fact that they show so little evidence of erosion or any kind of activity between the layers is suspicious -- they are all so flat and even. In addition, many well-preserved fossil fish are found in the Green River varves. This is an evidence that these varves were laid down rapidly. (Experiments have shown that if fish are not buried rapidly, the bones fall apart.)
Growth of coral reefs
It is also often claimed that the growth of coral reefs to their current size would require very long time periods. Coffin shows that coral reefs can grow very fast when they are farther from the surface of the ocean. At the surface, the growth rate slows due to water action and various other factors. So coral reefs are also not an evidence for a long history of the earth since the origin of life.
Evidence for catastrophe in the geologic column
Here are some quotes from "The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits?," 1998, by Gorman Gray, pp. 118 - 119, supporting the idea that the geologic column was laid down catastrophically:
"... deposits above the `great unconformity' (the boundary between Precambrian and Cambrian) are now thought by most geologists to have been deposited rapidly and catastrophically. ... The evidence is ubiquitous for catastophic deposits. Evolutionary geologists now acknowledge numerous local catastrophes to account for many different regions while refusing to accept the very simple explanation of one cataclysm responsible for all of them."
"Although the well-informed leadership in geology realizes that catastrophism is evident everywhere, it is not known so well at the university level."
"Even though the basic concept of uniformitarian gradualism for deposited strata has been overthrown, curiously there has been no adjustment in the dates applied to the geologic column. It appears that there are strong forces to hold on to the millions of years concept of geology (in spite of the facts) in order to preserve the supposed time for evolution to occur."
"Evolutionary geologists now hypothesize millions of years of non-activity between formations in order to preserve the evolutionary time schedule. There is no evidence supporting numerous hiatuses. One would think in even a thousand years there would be roots or worm burrows or stream erosion or clam tracks. Instead, most of the interfaces are sharply defined. Evolutionists are saying essentially that no evidence means evidence for long periods of time between formations."
"After these discoveries, geologists began looking at the well-known formations throughout the world and discovered that most of them showed the characteristics of turbidite formation. Over half the depositions on North America have now been identified as turbidities and each year of study yields more which are falling to this concept."
"The latter [sedimentary layers of Cambrian or later age] are worldwide phenomena and many of the formations cover areas of hundreds or thousands of square miles. ... gradual deposition is precluded in the nature of turbidite formations."
I note that turbidities are formed rapidly by flows under water, but have a layered structure. The point of these quotes is that much of the geologic column is now recognized to have been laid down in this manner, now over half of the formations in North America. At present, there is hardly anywhere where this kind of turbidity activity is depositing a significant amount of sediment that will remain for any length of time. River deltas are about as close as one can come, and they are generally not flat like the great sedimentary deposits, and do not cover such a large area. So the evidence is that conditions in the past when these deposits were being laid down were much different than at present. Also, the fact that there is no worldwide unconformity above the Great Unconformity suggests that there was no break in this continuous pattern of deposition, and that the geologic column (up to some point, maybe somewhere in the Mesozoic) was laid down all at once.
There are many evidences of catastrophic conditions in the geologic column, such as polystrate fossils, and fossils giving evidence of rapid burial. For example, a fossil of an 80 to 90 foot baleen whale was found by miners in diatomaceous earth near Lompoc, California. Here is the quote, from Coffin, page 37, about the Baleen whale:
"A recent discovery has caused scientists to begin rethinking the origin of the deposit. Miners found an 80 to 90 foot baleen whale in the white earth. If a long time was required to cover the huge mammal, the bones would not have remained attached together."
He mentions experiments that show that fish bones rapidly separate when the fish die and fall to the bottom, even if predators are kept away. So this really does seem to be an evidence of rapid burial. And this implies also that all of the well-preserved fossils that are found, were buried rapidly.
This casts doubt on the idea that this deposit was laid down gradually. fish fossils are sometimes found in the midst of eating other fish, or giving birth. I realize that geologists say the polystrate fossils (trees extending through many layers) fell into place later on, but these fossils are very common, and a logical corollary of catastrophic deposition.
I think it is interesting that many igneous bodies have wide biostrategraphic limits. This implies that several geological periods are missing, with only a lava flow to show for it. This seems unlikely if these periods were really millions of years long, since there should be some evidence of their passing, but becomes more plausible if these periods were much shorter.
Coffin (and creationists in general) have given many, many evidences of catastrophic conditions in the geologic column. As for Specimen Ridge, which has many layers of upright fossil trees on top of one another, Coffin gives a detailed analysis of this, showing that the assumption of many forests growing on top of one another is not realistic, and gives evidences for the mechanism of rapid transport of trees from somewhere else. He does this as well for the forests of Joggins Petrified Trees of Nova Scotia.
I wish I had time to type in his quotes about the huge volcano eruptions of the past. These are not like anything we know today. Instead, great cracks opened up in the surface of the earth and great quantities of lava just gushed out. No need for a volcano at all! There have been similar eruptions recently, but much more minor. Such an event would of course have the possibility of enriching the atmosphere or water in Ar40 and making the lava appear old just because less Ar40 would escape.
He also mentions that if the Americas and Europe-Africa separated at the assumed slow rate, there would have been enough runoff from erosion to keep the Atlantic Ocean full, so there would not be any Atlantic Ocean at all today.
Now, I want to discuss evidences of erosion between geologic layers. The relative lack of erosion is evidence of rapid deposition and catastrophic conditions in the past. Coffin writes,
"Some geologists estimate that up to 40 percent of the sediments laid down in the past came from turbidity currents." (p. 93)
And according to a later reference, the number has increased since then. Turbidities are associated with rapid deposition.
As for the issue of uniformity, here is a quote from Coffin, page 104:
"Uniformity, however, has become through the years an inflexible and controlling element in geological research, not an hypothesis that one can discard if the facts don't fit. If the results of research don't support uniformity, the research is at fault. The scientist then initiates new research or reinterprets the facts even though he may have to bend or rearrange them unrealistically."
"It is my firm opinion that the concept of uniformity has greatly delayed the advance of geological science. It has stagnated in some areas for years with little progress compared to other sciences. Some geologists have noted the condition but have not recognized the reason why." (page 107)
Coffin notes an increasing tendency to accept catastrophism in geology, however. He mentions Derek Ager's book, "The Nature of the Stratigraphic Record," which supports catastrophism.
As for the degree of erosion between strata and evidence of catastrophism, Coffin writes of the grand canyon region (page 111):
"The strata extend for scores and even hundreds of miles with relatively little change in composition, texture, and thickness. We look in vain to find comparable beds forming today."
"But such erosion and depositional features [gulleys and gorges, deltas etc.] are unknown for some of the beds, and the deposits are massive, quite homogeneous, and not typical of stream and river action."
He mentions giant mud cracks fifteen or more feet high in the geological record.
"However, when we look at the geological record and see thin, flat-lying beds extending sometimes for hundreds of miles, we are at a loss to find their modern counterparts." (page 87)
"The deposits of the past often show essentially no evidence of erosion on their surfaces." (page 88)
"In some places in the world we can trace very thin beds, only an inch or two thick, over hundreds of miles." (page 89)
"Although we do find some erosion between certain beds, usually the amount is small compared to the nature of the earth's surface today." (page 90)
Coffin also gives evidence that the great coal beds were laid down rapidly.
Anyway, I'd encourage readers to consult the book for details: Origin by Design, by Harold Coffin, 1983, Review and Herald Publishing Association.
As for fossils, it has been proposed that water with certain unusual chemical compositions or certain kinds of bacteria can cause fossils to be preserved, even if rates of sedimentation are slow. This must be an unusual occurrence, since I don't ever recall seeing the bottom of a lake with zillions of well-preserved dead fish covered with preservative bacteria. In fact, I don't think that there is anywhere in the world today that fossils like those in the fossil record are forming, except possibly as a result of floods and rapid accumulations of sediment. So if the present is the key to the past, we should assume that such rapid accumulations of sediment occurred in the past, too, when all of these fossils formed. Otherwise, we are giving up on uniformitarianism to some extent. And what evidence is there that all of these well-preserved fossils were formed by such unusual conditions, anyway?
Note that since well-preserved fossils imply rapid burial, and many fossils occur together, many creatures must have died at about the same time. Otherwise, their fossils would be widely separated in the rapidly falling sediment. Having many creatures die at once suggests catastrophic conditions.
Someone claimed that Harold Coffin is clueless for promoting a catastrophist view of geology. Those who think that must think that Ager is clueless, too, for promoting a similar view in his book, "The Nature of the Stratigraphic Record." But remember that Ager is not a creationist, and people are generally not so free in their criticism of non-creationists.
We have several evidences for catastrophism in the geologic column: 1.) Turbidities, which some geologists believe are very common. 2) Massive fossil deposits. 3) Geological layers whose boundaries are marked by little erosion or signs of plant or animal life. 4) Massive volcanic eruptions, unmatched by anything known today. All in all, I think the picture is convincing, even though there may be many other features that are not as easy to understand in this framework.
Concerning the catastrophic nature of the geological record, here are some non-creationist references. This material may be found at http://members.aol.com/DWR51055/tasc/faqs.htm , which is a creation FAQ of the Triangle Society for Scientific Creation:
b. "Potentially more important to geological thinking are those unconformities that signal large chunks of geological history are missing, even though the strata on either side of the unconformity are perfectly parallel and show no evidence of erosion. Did millions of years fly by with no discernible effect? A possible though controversial inference is that our geological clocks and stratigraphic concepts need working on." William R. Corliss, Unknown Earth (Glen Arm, Maryland: The Sourcebook Project, 1980), p. 219.
RECORD IS CATASTROPHIC, DAVID M. RAUP, Chicago Field Museum, Univ. of Chicago, "A great deal has changed, however, and contemporary geologists and paleontologists now generally accept catastrophe as a 'way of life' although they may avoid the word catastrophe... The periods of relative quiet contribute only a small part of the record. The days are almost gone when a geologist looks at such a sequence, measures its thickness, estimates the total amount of elapsed time, and then divides one by the other to compute the rate of deposition in centimeters per thousand years. The nineteenth century idea of uniformitarianism and gradualism still exist in popular treatments of geology, in some museum exhibits, and in lower level textbooks....one can hardly blame the creationists for having the idea that the conventional wisdom in geology is still a noncatastrophic one." Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin (Vol.54, March 1983), p.2 1
CATACLYSMIC BURIAL, JOHN R. HORNER, "...there were 30 million fossil fragments in that area. At a conservative estimate, we had discovered the tomb of 10,000 dinosaurs ...there was a flood. This was no ordinary spring flood from one of the streams in the area but a catastrophic inundation. ... That's our best explanation. It seems to make the most sense, and on the basis of it we believe that this was a living, breathing group of dinosaurs destroyed in one catastrophic moment." DICGING DINOSAURS, 1988, p.131
FOSSIL PROGRESSION?, DAVID M. RAUP, Chicago Field Museum, Prof. of Geology, Univ. of Chicago, "A large number of well trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is. This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: lowlevel textbooks, semipopular articles, and so on. Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved. In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general, these have not been found yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks...One of the ironies of the creationevolution debate is that the creationists have accepted the mistaken notion that the fossil record shows a detailed and orderly progression and they have gone to great lengths to accommodate this 'fact' in their Flood Geology." New Scientist, Vol. 90, p.832, 1981
Rates of erosion
As for the separation of the continents, I found some references about rates of erosion: (This is not a creationist source.)
The span since the Precambrian is long enough, at present rates of erosion, for rivers to have shifted the equivalent of 25 to 30 times the bulk of the existing continental masses, but the rate of erosion and sedimentation is estimated to have increased with time.
Such transitory streams, rivers, or creeks are noted for their gullying effects, especially for their rapid rates of erosion, transportation, and deposition. There have been reports of up to 8 feet (2 m) of deposition in 60 years and like amounts of erosion during a single flood event.
Roughly contemporaneous with the time of the Aztec Empire, this period was characterized by what O'Hara described as "staggeringly high" environmental impacts and erosion rates of 208 metric tons of soil per hectare (85 tons per acre) per year.
All above quotes are from the online Encyclopedia Britannica, and the first one is from the article "The River System through Time." Anyway, rates of erosion can vary, but one would have to justify that they have been much smaller in the past. In addition, the fact that there are so many evidences of rapid erosion in the geologic column casts doubt on the statement that rates of erosion were slower then.
I wanted to make an additional comment on the separation of the continents. The Americas are thought to have split off about 150 million years ago. Since the precambrian, erosion would have moved about 25 to 30 times the continental masses. Since 150 million years ago, it would be about 10 continental masses. Assuming half goes into the Atlantic and half into the Pacific, it would be about 5 continental masses each way. Now, the average depth of the oceans is less than 5 times the average elevation of the land, so this would be enough erosion to cover an ocean area equal to the combined area of the Americas, Europe, and Africa, which would easily fill the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, as sediment enters the water, the sea level would rise to some extent.
Now, it is possible that this sediment would cause the crust of the earth beneath the Atlantic Ocean to sink to some extent. But since there is a fixed amount of mass beneath the crust, this would mean that the crust would have to rise somewhere else. Where would that be? Since the whole Atlantic would be covered with sediment, it is not likely that any place in the Atlantic would rise. The continents are massive, much more under sea level than above, so it is not likely that they would rise much, either. The oceans near the continents would be receiving erosion just like the Atlantic, so they would not rise much, either. The only place left would be somewhere near the middle of the Pacific Ocean. So, in order for this to rise, the downward force on the Atlantic would have to be transmitted through the 1800 miles of solid rock under the crust, to somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. This seems highly improbable.
In fact, the amount of sediment entering the Atlantic would be even higher than I estimated above, since the mountain chains in the Americas are much closer to the Pacific than the Atlantic. Also, the Ural Mountains are on the eastern border of Europe, and the mountains of Africa are far to the east, having a similar effect.
Of course, so much sediment entering the ocean would cause the sea level to rise, to some extent. This would further lower the level of the continents relative to the ocean, and tend to cause the earth to become flooded.
Coffin mentions that at current rates of erosion, the Gulf of Mexico would fill up in 6 million years, for example. Objections have been raised to this estimate, which I now consider.
It is possible that the crust of the earth would sink to some extent as matter infilled the Gulf of Mexico. But remember that the crust of the earth is about 4 miles thick under the oceans, and about 20 miles thick under the continents. So the thickness under the Gulf of Mexico would probably be in between these limits. In addition, there is 1800 miles of solid rock underneath the crust. The crust moves in plates, implying that it has considerable rigidity and would not bend easily. And note that infilling of sediment would replace water with sediment, so only the difference in density would add to the pressure on the crust. By the time the crust got around to bending, the Gulf would probably be almost full.
Sediments do compact, meaning that more sediment would be required to fill the Gulf. But I believe that the measurement Coffin was referring to already took this fact into account. In addition, shells and bones continually fall to the bottom, and corals grow. Only an inch of accumulation in 100 years would lead to about a mile of sediment in 6 million years, even without erosion. The Gulf of Mexico is about 2 miles deep at its deepest part, except for one place near Mexico, so its average depth may be about a mile. All in all, the filling in of the Gulf of Mexico in 6 million years is not unreasonable. Coffin also notes that the current delta must have formed in at most a few thousand years, assuming the northern border of the Gulf of Mexico was initially straight. Thus one would have to assume that the Mississippi River had a different course, emptying into the Great lakes, as early as 5000 years ago to sustain the current chronology.
Reliability of creationist sources
The reliability of creationist sources is often questioned because those who write them are not always experts in the areas they write about. But I believe that their message is true, namely, God created the universe, the earth, and all that is in it, God created life on earth recently, and the earth since then has experienced a major catastrophe. If in a few instances creationist discussion of anomalies in radiometric dating is based on a misunderstanding of the literature, there are plenty of other acknowledged anomalies that they could have used just as well. All in all, I would much prefer creationist sources to the talk.origins FAQ and standard textbook treatments, which gloss over problems that specialists in the fields do not hesitate to admit, and present uniformitarianism, evolution, and radiometric dating as if these were beyond reproach. But I am thankful for the many voices being raised against this triumvirate of confusion, and believe that in the minds of many it is losing credibility, despite the resistance of establishment science. Most people only have time to become familiar with one of these three aspects, and so their doubts are calmed by belief in the evidence from the other two. But all three of them are in confusion.
In general, it's good to read both sides of the story. So I continue to recommend the creation web sites, including the following:
(This has a good selection of links to other sites)
(More links than you can ever visit.)
Appendixx U The Geologic Column Does It Exist? by John Woodmorappe t has been claimed that the geological column as a faunel succession is not just a hypothetical concept, but a reality, because all Phanerozoic systems exist superposed at a number of locations on the earth. Close examination reveals, however, that even at locations where all ten systems are superposed, the column, as represented by sedimentary-thickness, is mostly missing. In fact, the thickest local accumulation of rock is only a tiny fraction of the inferred 600-million year’s worth of depositions. The global ‘stack’ of index fossils exists nowhere on earth, and most index fossils do not usually overlie each other at the same locality. So, even in those places where all Phanerozoic systems have been assigned, the column is still hypothetical. Locally, many of the systems have not been assigned by the index fossils contained in the strata but by indirect methods that take the column for granted — clearly circular reasoning. Thus the geologic column does not exist and so does not need to be explained by Flood geology. Only each local succession requires an explanation and Flood geology is wholly adequate for this task.
Does the geologic column exist? If so, to what extent? With geological periods and epochs extending for hundreds of millions of years the column clearly contradicts the biblical time scale. Thus for many people, the geological column is an obstacle to their accepting a recent Creation and a world-wide Flood as recorded in Scripture.
Creationists have shown that the geological column presents no problem to Flood geology. It is nothing more than a hypothetical classification scheme based on selected rock outcrops in Europe, and used flexibly to classify rocks around the world.1,2 Anti-creationists have responded that the column is valid, having been built up in a thoroughly logical way long before the theory of evolution was invented, and that many of those who contributed to its building were creationists.3 One unanswerable argument for the hypothetical character of the column is that nowhere in the world does the complete column exist. The majority of the geological periods are missing in the field. Although anti-creationists usually have not disputed that the column is mostly missing, they have argued that we should not expect the entire column to exist in the field. Erosion, they argue, is why the complete column is never found.3 Hence they claim that rocks deposited during one period would be eroded away during a later period. So, while those defending the column have invented ad hoc reasons to explain the missing geologic periods, they did not deny the hypothetical nature of the column.
Recently however, there have been a number of recurrent claims that the geological column is more than a hypothetical concept and that it actually exists.4 Some of these claims have been made on the Internet and, as an active creationist scientist, I don’t have the time to fan the windmills of debate on this totally unregulated, unrefereed medium. Anyone can say anything on it, no matter how untrue. However, the claims made on this medium should not be ignored completely. We must provide responses from time to time so the critics and their readers don’t think their claims are unanswerable.
It is on the Internet that a number of geographical localities have been nominated where it has been asserted that the entire column is actually superposed period upon period in the one place.5 This is one of the few intellectual-sounding arguments on the anti-creationist sites that some people may mistakenly take seriously. Thus I address the bogus arguments of some of these articles relating to the geologic column. I want to examine these claims closely, first correcting common misrepresentations of creationist literature on this subject, then delving into the geologic issues involved.
How is the geologic column defined?
Anti-creationists have distorted what creationists have actually written about the geologic column, and created one huge ‘straw man’ of creationist research on global stratigraphy. Others have cited one or two popular-level creationist books and misrepresented them as the definitive thought of all creationists. For example, Glenn Morton writes in his Internet essay, The Entire Geologic Column in North Dakota:
‘A detailed examination of the young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist. It is shown that the entire geologic column exists in North Dakota.’5 Morton’s claim is very misleading. The unsuspecting visitor to Morton’s website gets only a small part of the story. Yes, Morris and Parker,1 whom Morton attacks, are not strictly accurate when they say there is no place on earth where all ten geologic systems are superposed. (I combine the Mississippian and the Pennsylvanian into the Carboniferous system, and omit the surficial Quarternary deposits.) However, it is wrong to state or imply that most creationist scholars believe this to be true. Back in 1968, Harold Clark6 made it clear that there are many places on the earth with most or all of the ‘complete’ column in place. In 1981, I re-examined this fact, and quantified it.2 More on this later.
But does the presence of all ten superposed Phanerozoic systems positively establish the reality of the geologic column? Hardly! Yet Morton (and others who repeat what he says) present it to their readers as if it did. As a start, let us examine more fully what Morris and Parker actually said about the geologic column: ‘The column is supposed to represent a vertical cross-section through the earth’s crust, with the most recently deposited (therefore youngest) rocks at the surface and the oldest, earliest rocks deposited on the crystalline “basement” rocks at the bottom. If one wishes to check out this standard column (or standard geologic age system), where can he go to see it for himself? There is only one place in all the world to see the standard geologic column. That’s in the textbook! ... almost any textbook, in fact, that deals with evolution or earth history. A typical textbook rendering of the standard column is shown in Figure 44. This standard column is supposed to be at least 100 miles [160 km] thick (some writers say up to 200 [320 km]), representing the total sedimentary activity of all of the geologic ages. However, the average thickness of each local geologic column is about one mile (in some places, the column has essentially zero thickness, in a few places it may be up to 16 or so miles [25 km], but the worldwide average is about one mile [1.6 km]). The standard column has been built up by superposition of local columns from many different localities.’ 7 (Emphasis in original.)
Note that Morris and Parker are not saying that the presence or absence of all ten Phanerozoic systems in a ‘stack’ is the only issue defining the reality or otherwise of the geologic column. What they are saying, as is seen in the part usually not quoted by anti-creationists, is that nowhere on earth is the geologic column complete in the sense of having the maximum thickness of sedimentary rock attributed to each geologic period. It is time anti-creationists stop misrepresenting Morris and Parker.
Figure 1. The presence or absence of all ten Phanerozoic systems in a 'stack' is not the only issue concerning the reality or otherwise of the geologic column. The column to the left represents the maximum thickness of sedimentary rock attributed to each geologic period (100 miles). The column to the right represents to the same scale the thickness of sedimentary rock in North Dakota. Clearly the geologic column is far from complete in North Dakota.
As for Morton, although he mentions the thickness-of-sediment issue, it is in a completely distorted manner:
‘In point of fact Morris and Parker define the geologic column in a silly fashion. There is no place on earth that has sediments from every single day since the origin of the earth. No geologist would require this level of detail from the geological column.’5 Morton’s comments have no semblance to reality. Creationists do not say that every single day’s deposits must be preserved! The fact is that Morris and Parker are not talking about a little of the daily sediment being missing. If we read the Morris and Parker quote again, we can see that the 100- or 200-mile column is not the presumed product of daily sedimentation. Rather, the 100- to 200-mile column represents the sum of the thickest sections from the field of each of the ten Phanerozoic systems and/or their major components.
Now what does all this mean? Common sense teaches us that 16 miles (at most) which exists, out of a total of 100 or 200 miles, is a very incomplete column! It remains primarily an invention of the uniformitarian imagination, and a textbook orthodoxy. So, although there are places where lithologies referable to all ten of the Phanerozoic systems can actually be seen superposed, creationists remain more than justified in highlighting the essential non-existence of the standard geologic column. And we have not even touched such matters as overlapping fossil ranges, non-superposed index fossils, and many other things, which expose the non-reality of the geologic column. That is, most fossils found are for only one geologic system (e.g. Devonian), and most index fossils do not actually superpose at the same locality. In other words, most locations with Devonian fishes are not overlain by rocks bearing Cretaceous ammonites, and most locations with Cretaceous ammonites do not overlie localities with Devonian fishes. The same can be said for all the index fossils of all of the geologic systems.