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|Down below there is some discussion about the Standard Geological Column. One poster argues that a complete column is represented in a number of sedimentary basins around the world. Or that is the argument as I recall it. Hopefully I’ll be excused if I’ve misrepresented it. A creationist poster responds by expressing doubt that all stages of the respective systems are represented and indicates that he/she has contacted several academic geology departments with an inquiry as to the veracity of this claim but has not received a reply. I am a professional geologist with 20 years experience who received his Bach. Degree at the Univ of North Dakota, the state in which one of these basins, the Williston, is centered. I currently work for the Geological Survey and teach at the primary university of a nearby state. I would like to provide some perspective and clear up some misconceptions that seem to pervade the aforementioned discussion.
The Standard Geologic Column is a time stratigraphic composite of stratigraphic intervals described in Europe. To say that it is a composite is not to invalidate its usefulness as a correlation tool, which is its main practical function. It is not just useful in this regard, it is essential, and is used by all mineral resource exploration endeavors to correlate strata from area to area. I’ve been involved in a few such programs. An anology to numerology is that the sequence from 1 to 9 is not logically invalidated if spliced together from the subsets 1234, 3456, 6789. If we had some subsets that had gaps, like 1245, we could still assemble the correct sequence knowing that one of the subsets was 1234. In geology we have the advantage of also seeing internal evidence for a gap, such as paleosols, erosional surfaces, and discordance of bedding above and below the “gap’. The key point is that fossil assemblages that constitute time stratigraphic subsets of the SGC always follow the same order. A complete sequence of assemblages ultimately is the basis for the SGC.
As to the Williston Basin, every System (a time-stratigraphic subdivision such as the Cambrian strata) between and including the pre-Cambrian through Quaternary is indeed represented. Therefore, it is indeed true that we don’t even have to speculate as to the logical validity of having constructed the SGC as a composite. The sequence exists, and it is the same sequence as described in the European composite. You can read about the Cambrian through Tertiary stratigraphy of this depositional basin in Carlson, C. G. and Anderson, S. B., Sedimentary and Tectonic History of North Dakota Part of the Williston Basin, 1966, ND Geol Survey Misc Series No. 28. Just call them (NDGS) in Bismarck if you want a copy.
Now, having said that a complete history is represented, that in no way means a record of continuous deposition in the Williston Basin is present. I’m sure such a long history of continuous sedimentation exists nowhere, but that is not to say that sedimentary sequences that include “gaps”, or episodes of non-deposition, cannot be used to piece together geologic history. A complete geol. history includes episodes of uplift and erosion as well as of subsidence and deposition. It also includes any intrusive or extrusive igneous events, and any deformation is also detailed.
So there are indeed “gaps” representing episodes of non-deposition and/ or erosion within even the most “complete” stratigraphic sequences, something that seems to be lost on a lot of evolutionists. The fallacy of creationists, though, is to labor with the misconception that these “gaps” are somehow a problem for uniformitarianism. The “gaps”, or unconformities, in fact, are the very basis for primary subdivisions of the SGC such as the boundary for the Silurian and Devonian Systems in England.
North American stratigraphers recognize six marine transgressions, or times when epicontinental seas encroached upon the land, since pre-Cambrian times. These transgression are represented by a record of nearly continuous sedimentary sequences. The major “gaps” between transgressive sequences represent times of marine regression wherein the land became emergent and a record of erosion and/or non deposition is left.
The North American transgressive sequences don’t match those in other parts of the world either in number or timing. For example, while there is a “gap” between the Ordovician and Silurian strata in Great Britain marking the boundary between these systems, the sedimentary record for North America generally indicates continuous sedimentation during a marine transgression for this time. Despite the fact that the sedimentological histories of different parts of the world differed, as indicated by these phase differences, the same sequence of fossil assemblages appears everywhere.
Here is the crux of the some problem for creationism, no pun intended. Even if you assume that one of the transgressive sequences represents a Flood that some guy that lived to be 900 years old sailed upon, which there is no evidence for, you have the problem of explaining how all the other transgressive sequences came about, and how they fit into a young earth scenario. I believe the Bible mentions but one global flood. Even if you could reconcile the phenomenon of biostratigraphic succession with the concept of original creation of “kinds”, you still have to explain why the same biostrat succession is observed in all transgressive sequences and is *continuous* between them. Lateral discontinuities in the stratigraphic record, such as those at the margins of basins of deposition such as those that started this discussion, don’t fit well with the Flood scenario either. The Flood should have left a continuous world wide record laterally as well as vertically. Where is such a continuous record?
There are other daunting problems for young earth creationists in regard to the types of sediments and that they often transgress through time. I will restrict my discussion to the Big Picture item of stratigraphic succession as represented by the SGC for now, however.
After considering the above and you still feel the SGC is a notion without merit I leave you to ponder as to why all major and minor resource enterprises use the SGC as a correlation standard for exploration projects, and why none of them use creationism. And why have so many resources been discovered since uniformitarianism became favored in the 1800’s? After all, the measure of the veracity of a scientific concept is how well it makes predictions. Why is biostratigraphic succession, to which evolution provides an explanatory footing and which is a basis for the SGC, such a useful tool in these endeavors? Where is your retirement portfolio invested? When it comes right down to the nitty-gritty everyone is an evolutionist, even so-called creationists.
And why is it no one ever bets on creationism?