April 20th 2003, 11:12 AM #1
Varves: Falsification of YEC/Flood Geology
A varve is "a sedimentary lamina or sequence of laminae deposited in a body of still water within one year's time; specifically a pair of layers seasonally deposited in a glacial lake. A glacial varve normally includes a lower 'summer' layer consisting of light-colored sand or silt, which grades upward into a thinner 'winter' layer, consisting of clayey, often organic, dark sediment" (Bates & Jackson, eds.)
The Green River varves are often cited as there are approximately 40 million laminae, and since varves, by definition, are a couplet of varves deposited in one year, this formation represents roughtly 20 million years (sedimentation rates of the varves are also confirmed by radiometric dating, so we have two independent lines of evidence: radiometric dating of volcanic materials and that we observe the formation of varves in modern day environments. We also observe trace fossils such as footprints, sedimentary structures such as raindrop imprints, and biological evidence includes corprolites from freshwater fauna and fossils of freshwater fauna and birds. Finally, we also have the existence of evaporitic materials, from carbonates represented in the lighter layer to areas where halite and the dominantly freshwater evaporite trona are found in the formation.
Clearly all evidence points to (1) a very old age that falsifies YECism and (2) a freshwater lacustrine environment that falsifies a mechanism of a global flood.
Now before I start getting responses from YECs, who from experience invariably post a link from AiG or ICR, I'd like to address those arguments in advance:
Creationist objections to varves often indicate the superficial argument that essentially states, "other mechanisms produce layering, so they could account for varves." This type of superficial argument (that even neglects how different layering sequences don't even look alike from the most basic observations of color and texture) without any analysis as to the actual content of the formations they list does nothing to refute our in-depth knowledge of varve formations.
1. Mt. St. Helens.
This is one of the arguments that often is mentioned. It is argued that layering of mud and fine ash occurs rapidly, ergo any long-term formations could be explained similarly. Creationists say this as if geologists are not aware that catastrophic events can and do occur, and what we have here is an example of a lahar--where a slurry of loose soil, sediment fractured from the eruption, and ice melting due to the heat released combine and flow down hill interbedding with ash ejected from the volcano.
In relation to varves, however, this model is far from representative. Varves show alternate layering between organic-rich material from the settling of planktic material to the lake's bottom and a lighter layer often containing carbonate minerals, which are precipitated from a saturated fluid. Mt. St. Helens shows none of the characteristics of a varve formation except layering on the most superficial level. The Mt. St. Helens argument is useless.
2. Beach Sands
Similar to the first argument, creationists argue that layering of dark materials and light materials occur by exposure from beach erosion. First of all, this neglects observations in actual content. Whereas varves show alternating layers of organic and carbonate material, the beach sands often shown are composed of quartz grains and mica grains. Furthermore, they are the products of weathering, the time for which YECs do not account. Second, this type of longshore transport and wave erosion on beaches is common, but these formations can often be transitory and involve periods of erosion and deposition of material already available. And finally, this example, like the Mt. St. Helens example does not include the effects of lithification.
3. Turbidity Currents
Turbidity currents, first of all, occur in oceans usually as a result of an event such as an earthquake where, assisted by gravity, loose clastic material falls down the continental margins to produce a hemiconical fan of layered sediments. There are several problems with this argument as a mechanism for the creation of varves.
First, turbidites are composed of clastic material that shows moderate sorting and gradational bedding according to clast size--this accounts for neither the organic layer in varves nor the carbonate layer. Second, if this were a viable mechanism, it should be noted that in turbidite deposits, each layer is deposited by one turbidity current. So, to produce 40 million layers, each turbidity current has to deposit a layer of different composition to attain the alternate banding at the Green River formation. Additionally, what is most fatal to this argument is the timing: assuming a "great flood" time interval of one year (365 days), we can make a calculation of the number of turbidity currents per unit time: 40 million layers/365 days and divide by 86,400 seconds/day to convert the units requires that ~1.27 laminations must be deposited every second to account for the 40 million layers in the Wyoming deposit. So, in effect, YECs are claiming that one turbidity current must carry sediment (where did it come from? how did it lithify?) of alternating composition once every second over an area several hundreds of square kilometers. That's more than unlikely; it's impossible.
So, in summary, under the assumption that there would be enough water to flood the earth as per that interpretation of the Bible (although there actually isn't), YECs have yet to account for varves beyond the most superficial analysis of saying "there's layering here, so it must be the same". Simply looking at color, texture, composition, and additional key components (freshwater evaporates, fauna, and flora; sedimentary structures; trace fossils; etc.) the standard YEC arguments are dismantled and the point remains: the Green River varves should not exist if the earth is very young and earth's geologic features are primarily the result of a global flooding event.
April 20th 2003, 02:05 PM #2
To make the creationist job easier, I'll just post their response in advance:
Lung transplant: $400,000. Anti-rejection drugs: $20,000 a year. Being denied the only operation that can save my life, on the grounds that it's too life-threatening: Priceless. There are some things money can't buy; health, in my case, is not one of them. Read all about it (and donate) at Save-Allan.org!
April 21st 2003, 07:35 AM #3
Or they could always throw in a 'goddidit'
April 21st 2003, 10:16 AM #4
Thanks Mech, for an excellent summery.
doov"I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practise whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent." -- Authur C. Clarke
April 21st 2003, 10:25 AM #5
Very nicely written post, Mechanical - I look forward to any responses consisting of more than links to AiG articles which sputter the "volanoes sometimes make layers" tripe you've already addressed.
Welcome to the boards, by the way!
April 21st 2003, 10:50 AM #6
April 22nd 2003, 12:04 PM #7
• Edited by a Moderator •
April 22nd 2003, 04:13 PM #8
• Edited by a Moderator •"I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practise whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent." -- Authur C. Clarke
April 22nd 2003, 04:34 PM #9
• Edited by a Moderator •Lung transplant: $400,000. Anti-rejection drugs: $20,000 a year. Being denied the only operation that can save my life, on the grounds that it's too life-threatening: Priceless. There are some things money can't buy; health, in my case, is not one of them. Read all about it (and donate) at Save-Allan.org!
April 22nd 2003, 04:51 PM #10
April 22nd 2003, 04:55 PM #11"Creationist critics often charge that evolution cannot be tested,
and therefore cannot be viewed as a properly scientific subject
at all. This claim is rhetorical nonsense."
[Stephen Jay Gould, "Dinosaur in a Haystack"]
April 22nd 2003, 05:01 PM #12Today @ 03:51 PM post located here
Dee Dee Warren:
Does anyone even need me to explain why the above posts were edited???
Do any YECer's have any realistic, detailed explanations for the formation of the 40 million layers which constitute the Green River Varves, or is this just one of those things y'all just wish would go away?
April 22nd 2003, 05:19 PM #13
Thank you Bald Ape, I appreciate the renewed focus. At other times those posts would have been fine. In the atmosphere that exists right now in the Science forum that I am working hard to ease, they were unnecessarily provoking.
April 22nd 2003, 10:37 PM #14
I was going to PM this, but the option is available.
Today @ 05:58 PM post located here
I was just wondering if the non-Christians actually get anything positive from debates with the Christians, here in the Biology section. I guess Im asking, why are you guys here?
Cheers!"I am an alien spouse of female military personnel en route to the United States under public law 271 of the Congress." - Capt. Henri Rochard
April 22nd 2003, 10:39 PM #15
I'd also like to add that Cleveland, OH has varves in its soil, starting about 20 feet deep. It runs a long while down. Its from lake deposits when Lake Erie was like bigger and stuff. Not much bigger, but Downtown Cleveland was underwater. The higher suburbs were not, which explains why there are no varves."I am an alien spouse of female military personnel en route to the United States under public law 271 of the Congress." - Capt. Henri Rochard
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