© 1989, 1998 by Creation Research Society. All rights reserved.
T. GISH, Ph.D.
Society Quarterly 25(4):161 March, 1989
Creationist research in
the past 14 years is reviewed as it was in the first decade of the Creation
Research Society (Gish, 1975). Part I is a review of geological research
and Part II (to appear in the next Quarterly) is a review of
A review published in the
Creation Research Society Quarterly 12:34-46 described the research
that had been published in the Quarterly through Volume 10. The
present review describes the research published in the Quarterly
through March 1988, completing nearly 25 years of publication. This
review has been restricted to those articles which describe bench-type
or field type research. This restriction has caused the omission of
some extremely significant and interesting theoretical research by Dr.
Thomas Barnes, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Texas, El
Paso (Barnes, 1975; Barnes and Upham, 1976; Barnes, Pemper and Armstrong,
1977; Barnes, 1980; Barnes and Ramirez, 1982a; Barnes, et al., 1982b;
Barnes, 1983) and some interesting and productive mathematical research
by Dr. David Rodabaugh (1975a, 1975b, 1975c, 1976) among others.
One of the many false charges
leveled at creation scientists is that there are few biologists among
them, that the creation science movement is dominated by engineers.
This has been the consistent claim, for instance, of John Patterson,
a bitter anti-creationist engineering professor at Iowa State University
(Patterson, 1982, pp. 55-8). Actually, the largest category of membership
of the Creation Research Society with advanced degrees in science are
biologists and biological research papers constitute one of the largest
groups described in this review, followed closely by geological research
While in Europe in the spring
of 1975, Clifford Burdick, a consulting geologist, visited thrust formations
near Loch Assynt, in Northern Scotland, and the Glarus formation, near
Schwanden, Switzerland. Burdick (1975, pp. 155-6) confirmed that the
Scottish formations, the Moine, Ben More, and Glen Coul, which extend
typically over a little more than five miles, are indeed thrusts. In
contrast to these findings, his investigation of the Glarus formation
confirmed Walter Lammerts' assessment (1972, pp. 251-5) of this formation
that it reveals no evidence of overthrusting. The Glarus formation had
been designated as an overthrust, not on the basis of any physical evidence
for thrusting, but solely on the order of the fossils. Burdick quotes
Billings (1955, p. 131) as saying:
"Parts of some of the
great overthrusts in the Alps are so
devoid of slickensides,
gouge, and mylonite, that they passed unnoticed and were for a time
mapped as sedimentary contacts. It was only after paleontological
evidence was obtained ... that the existence of the great faults was
An overthrust is claimed
because the Verrucano, a coarse-grained arkosic schist, said to be Permian,
overlies slate, described as Eocene, which evolutionists believe to
be about 200 million years younger than the overlying Permian.
Although both the Verrucano
and the slate are metamorphic, indicating heating, there is no evidence
of sliding or other such motion. Just above the slate are two rather
thin layers of limestone with a thin laver of water-deposited clay showing
no signs of disturbance. As Billings has pointed out, and as confirmed
by Lammerts and Burdick, there is none of the usual telltale signs of
overthrusting at the sharp contact line.
Burdick concludes his assessment
"I suggest that the
Glarus formation shows a complex petrologic history of depositions,
metamorphism, folding, erosion, fresh deposition, and more regional
metamorphism. There are marked unconformities, but no signs of thrusting;
only signs of readjustment after the folding."
Burdick (1974, pp. 56-60)
also has reported his reinvestigation of the so-called Lewis Overthrust.
His original report had appeared in CRSQ 6:96-106. On the basis of his
research, Burdick maintained that the usual evidences for overthrusting
- mylonite, breccia, and slickensides - were missing. He concluded,
therefore, that this may not be a true thrust.
In the summer of 1973, geologists
Malcolm Fargher and Walter Peters accompanied a field trip sponsored
by the Bible-Science Association. Fargher had reported the existence
of slickensides and other physical criteria in the vicinity of the thrust
contact, suggesting that the Lewis Overthrust might be a true thrust.
In October of 1973, Malcolm Fargher accompanied Burdick on a reinvestigation
of a number of points of contact. Most geologists assume that the Lewis
Overthrust is a true thrust, because Cretaceous shale is overlaid with
Precambrian Altyn dolomite, which is assumed to be more than 500 million
years older than the Cretaceous. To illustrate the fact that in all
such cases evolutionary geologists would assume that an overthrust must
have occurred, Burdick quotes Nicholson (1897, p. 40):
Burdick reports his reinvestigation
of the contacts at Marias Pass, Dry Creek, at Two Medicine, Roes Creek,
Cut Bank, and Crowsnest Pass. At Marias Pass, there is a definite unconformity,
where the underlying Cretaceous shale has been faulted, with a westward
dip of about 45deg. Burdick could find no evidence, however, of differential
movement at the point of contact between the underlying Cretaceous shale
and the overlying Altyn dolomite, such as gouge, breccia or slickensides.
At the Dry Creek, at Two Medicine contact, the overlying Altyn dolomite
had been deformed to the point of brecciation. The crushing and brecciation
was local, however, with no gouge layer or other evidences of a giant
thrust between the Precambrian and Cretaceous formations. Apparently
the dolomite had been crushed and brecciated before it could be moved,
the force required to break it up being far less than the force required
to move this mammoth block of rock.
At Roes Creek, there appeared
to be no evidence of thrusting
between the underlying black
Cretaceous shale and the overlying
buff-colored rock. Burdick
agreed with Fargher, however, that
the overlying rock was neither
Belt Series Altyn dolomite nor
Cretaceous shale. At the
Cut Bank contact, the contact line is
razor sharp, with no gouge
or brecciation in the overlying
Altyn dolomite, as had been
the case at Dry Creek. At Cut Bank, the underlying Cretaceous shale
had been severely broken and brecciated, thus providing precisely the
reverse of the situation at Dry Creek, where the overlying Altyn dolomite
had been broken and brecciated. Burdick points out that if the severe
breakage and brecciation of the underlying Cretaceous shale had been
caused by overthrusting of the overlying Precambrian Altyn dolomite,
both surfaces would have been brecciated, with gouge and slickensides.
In the absence of such physical evidences, Burdick concluded that this
contact provided no evidence for thrusting.
Crowsnest Pass is located
along the highway at the Continental Divide at the British Columbia-Alberta
boundary. Burdick reports that here the overlying Precambrian Belt Series,
Altyn dolomite, lies conformably over the Cretaceous shale with a sharp
contact, although the beds lie at about a 40deg angle. There is a slight
brecciated seam of an inch or two between the beds, as would be expected
from differential movement due to folding, but there is no evidence
of a thrust-fault, according to Burdick.
Burdick closes his report
with the following statement by R. C.
Emmons, geologist at the
University of Wisconsin:
and upwelling appear to have bypassed the usual period of scrutiny,
into one of intransigent acceptance, and are widely invoked, though
unestablished in the geologic literature, as for example is overthrusting.
Both vagrant concepts have assumed a sacrosanct status under geophysical
husbandry that denies communion to opposition.."
Another alleged thrust fault
is the Heart Mountain formation in Wyoming. This area had been studied
by Burdick (1977, pp. 207-10), and he reports that he could find no
evidence for overthrusting. With the so-called Heart Mountain Thrust,
Madison (Mississippian) limestone is found overlying Tertiary limestone,
or dolomite. Since the Mississippian is supposedly more than 200 million
years older than the Tertiary, according to uniformitarian geologists,
they must assume that the presumedly older formation came to rest on
top of the presumedly younger formation by overthrusting. Burdick cites
reports of other geologists who failed to find the usual evidences expected
for overthrusting for Heart Mountain, but who nevertheless persist in
believing in an overthrust on account of the fossil evidence.
Burdick reports that the
whole area has been severely folded and deformed. Southwest of and adjacent
to Heart Mountain, the strata have been so severely deformed that in
places they rest on the edge. The contact of the Madison on Heart Mountain
with the underlying bed is covered with limestone rubble. Some geologists
have interpreted this rubble as tectonic breccia caused by thrust movement.
Burdick noted, however, that this rubble is no different from the erosional
rubble all around the steep sides of the mountain. Where the underlying
sandstone was exposed, it did not show brecciation or mylonite. Burdick
found definite evidence of fault action at Heart Mountain, but it involved
normal, or vertical fault action rather than overthrusting. He thus
discounted the generally accepted idea of thrust-faulting at Heart Mountain
and interpreted the formation as a normal fault at the apex of an anticline.
Charred Branch from the
Frederick P. Beierle (1979,
p. 87) reported the finding of a charred tree branch in the Cretaceous
limestone of the Paluxy River bed near Glenrose, Texas. This is the
site, of course, of the controversial reports of the discovery of alleged
human tracks near those of dinosaurs. In the company of Wilbur Fields,
Rex Hess, and others, Beierle and his co-workers found the charred branch
embedded in the Cretaceous rock about 200 yards downstream from dinosaur
tracks in the same formation. The branch was seven feet long and about
two inches in diameter. They are of the opinion that the limb had fallen
into soft limestone, perhaps from a tree that had been hit by lightning,
the limestone hardening after completely encasing the smoldering limb,
leaving the limb half-burned.
The Thornton Quarry Deposits
The Thornton Quarry, located
in a massive limestone deposit containing a high concentration of fossil
corals, crinoids, brachiopods, and other shallow marine organisms, is
the world's largest commercial limestone quarry. The limestone is believed
by evolutionists to be about 400 million years in age (Silurian). Based
upon a limited literature search and a few field trips to the site,
geologist David B. D'Armond (1980, pp. 88-105) has published a preliminary
report in which he presents evidence contradicting the generally accepted
notion that the limestone deposit of the Thornton Quarry is an ancient
fossil coral reef. D'Armond suggests that this deposit was formed due
to catastrophic wave-action generated during the Genesis Flood.
D'Armond's interest in this
alleged fossil reef was aroused during the several fossil-hunting field
trips to the site sponsored by then-existent Institute for Creation
Research Midwest Center. The Thornton Quarry is located just to the
south of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Material Services Corporation
(a division of General Dynamics) regularly allows field trips and fossil
hunts into the area under company supervision. The Thornton deposit
is one of dozens of similar deposits in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan,
Wisconsin, and Iowa, as well as in several locations in eastern Canada.
Geologists describe these deposits as part of a wedge-shaped fossil
coral reef archipelago positioned offshore from an ancient shoreline.
D'Armond is severely critical of the description of the Thornton deposit
by Jerome Ingels (1963, p. 405), who believed this to be a fossil reef.
As D'Armond describes, a
modern reef exhibits the following
characteristics: 1) distinct
and highly ordered growth structure
in the core: no bedding
present; 2) shallow dipping, bedded
talus slopes on flanks of
the core; 3) a high percentage of
reef-forming algae (50-80%);
4) solid, anchored, hard bedrock as
initial foothold and growth
points; and 5) a V-shaped growth
profile of the reef as a
D'Armond rejects Ingels'
claim that the Thornton deposit is a fossil reef, for the following
reasons: 1) there is no solid footing for reef growth; 2)the "reef
core" does not exhibit growth structures; 3) red calcareous algae,
the main reef-builder, is totally missing; 4) flank deposits are too
steep for the underwater angle of repose, and the "core" could
not be the source of deposits that are stratigraphically above the core,
nor the dome-like structure; 5) actual exposed reef shape does not correspond
tomodern reefs; 6) similar massive shallow-water limestone deposits
are not occurring in today's reefs; and 7) the ubiquitous fossil "tar"
depicts rapid and complete burial of animals before they could decay-unlike
the slow processes of a reef.
In a very extensive and
detailed analysis of postulated
catastrophic effects that
would have been produced by the
Genesis Flood due to the
deluge, tsunamis, storm surges, tidal
waves, and earth movements
and convulsions, D'Armond synthesizes
a working hypothesis for
the formation of the Thornton "reef"
deposit and the underlying
strata. According to D'Armond's
"... the massive
Cambrian and Ordovician strata underlying Thornton, including the
St. Peter Sandstone formation, is primarily a mid-Flood deposit. Plant
and animal materials, along with sediments broken loose by earthquakes,
volcanoes, tsunamis, and other forces, were deposited in final form
by the massive tidal action of the Flood during the months of deepest
inundation. judging from the direction of transport and deposition
ascribed by modern geologists to the sediments underlying the Thornton
"reef" deposits, it appears that this direction may be interpreted
as being the result of tidal wave fronts driven by the Coriolis effect,
which created massive tidal currents that swept over shoal areas and
Canadian Shield area into deeper basins. Thus the deep underlying
massive sediments may be relegated to the action of tidal waves and
currents in the CatastrophicWave Action Model. Tidal waves and currents
would also be primarily responsible for massive limestone deposits
derived from chemical precipitation occurring with rapidly changing
temperature, pH and chemical precipitation, while longer periods of
deposition would greatly increase the chances of contamination by
"Following the mid-Flood
deposition attributed to tidal effects, a rapid emergence of continental
land masses started to occur, triggering additional violent crustal
movements which, in turn, caused large numbers of tsunamis to sweep
over newly emergent shorelines. The newly formed Silurian deposits,
being uplifted, became a shoreline area capable of receiving coral
reef fragments torn loose and transported by tsunami-type waves. The
source area for these reef materials could have been actual antediluvian
reefs growing on Precambrian basement rocks in the general area of
present-day Hudson Bay. It could also be that the very large area
of reef deposits embedded in the Paleozoic sediments on the southern
edge of Hudson Bay are actual reefs, with footholds on the underlying
Precambrian, that were in place before the Flood. At any rate, the
allochthonous reef deposits at Thornton and elsewhere along the archipelago,
are most probably the result of tsunami wave deposition.
"It is also during
this time that the great wind of Genesis 8 would have been in operation,
and thus storm surge deposits also could have been expected in the
area. Such deposits might be represented by the material piled on
top of the Thornton reef blocks, causing moderate anti-clinal dips
throughout the area. The continuing emergence of the continental land
masses would have uplifted these deposits, and probably would have
caused steepening of the angles of dip to their present attitudes.
And finally, a thin layer of Pleistocene sediments covered the area
as a result of a brief glacial period."
I believe that this extensive
coverage of D'Armond's working hypothesis is desirable, in order not
only to present adequately D'Armond's interpretation of the Thornton
deposit, but also to call attention to his Catastrophic-Wave Action
Model. Readers are urged to read D'Armond's paper and to critique his
model. Although D'Armond's study on the possible origins of the Thornton
Quarry deposits is only preliminary, it does establish firmly that these
deposits do not constitute a fossil reef, and that, while the conclusions
of his study are hypothetical, it should be noted that a satisfying
synthesis of the Thornton deposits can be made from the known facts.
Palynology Studies in
the Grand Canyon
Dr. George Howe published
the initial paper (1986, pp. 99-104) in a series on Precambrian pollen
in Grand Canyon formations. Interest in this subject was stimulated
by a report by C. L. Burdick that he had isolated pollen grains of various
land plants from rocks of late Precambrian Hakatai shale while doing
graduate work towards a Ph.D. (subsequently denied) at the University
of Arizona under Gerhard Kremp, beginning in 1964. Burdick (1966, pp.
38-50) finally published the results of his work without support of
Kremp. In his paper, Howe presents a thorough review of Burdick's work
and subsequent work by others at the University of Arizona and by Arthur
V. Chadwick of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California. The latter
workers claimed they could not repeat Burdick's results and attributed
Burdick's results to contamination. Howe's review includes excerpts
from extensive correspondence and the comments of those involved. It
provides an insight into what happens when results are obtained which
are incompatible with current evolutionary thinking.
It was decided at a Creation
Research Society meeting in April, 1983 that fresh samples from the
Grand Canyon should be collected and analyzed by both the Burdick and
the Chadwick-Doher methods, every possible effort being made to exclude
contamination. A chemist, G. T. Matzko, agreed to carry out the pollen
extractions according to both procedures.
The second paper in this
series was published by W. E. Lammerts and G. F. Howe (1987, pp. 151-3).
As noted in the first article in this series, claims have been made
that Burdick's recovery of pollen grains from the Precambrian Hakatai
shale was due to contamination of present-day pollen picked up either
during collection and transportation of the samples or by infiltration
into the samples prior to collection. Lammerts and Howe therefore undertook
to assess the rate at which pollen grains will contaminate exposed slides
in order to determine whether or not pollen contamination might occur
routinely in the laboratory or in the field.
Lammerts and Howe used various
conditions in their experimental procedures, using clean ordinary slides,
and slides coated with vaseline, scotch tape, and water; collecting
points near pollinating pine trees on breezy and quiet days, near sunflower
and pollinating corn plants, and under an oak tree; overnight exposure
to an office near pine trees; and on a laboratory table with 86 hours
of exposure. The effect of wind, as should be expected, was very important.
In 10 minutes, on a breezy day, 27 pollen grains were collected near
a pine tree on two slides, but no grains were collected on two slides
at the same location a quiet day. Lammerts and Howe concluded that the
chance of contamination by airborne pollen during slide preparation
and during field work is extremely low. Whatever pollen might blow into
a laboratory on a windy day quickly settles to a desk top or the floor,
where it sticks; therefore, they state, it would seem that reasonable
care in cleaning the table, slides, and cover slips, would render unnecessary
positive pressure and filtered air supplies.
The third publication in
this series was authored by G. F. Howe, E. L. Williams, G. T. Matzko,
and W. E. Lammerts (1988, pp. 173-82). They reported their efforts to
determine whether fossil pollen grains could be recovered from the Precambrian
Hakatai Shale, as Burdick bad reported, or whether negative results
would be obtained as reported by University of Arizona workers and Chadwick.
Samples were collected from rock exposures of the Hakatai Shale, Hermit
Shale (The Hermit Shale is Permian), and Supai Group (The Supai Group
includes Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks). Hermit Shale was examined
in addition to Hakatai Shale to see if pollen grains could be recovered
from other shales and the Supai Formation was included as a control.
Rock samples were taken
after chipping back several inches from the exposed surfaces of rocks
which had no obvious seams or cracks, and were collected directly into
plastic bags, every precaution being taken to prevent contamination.
Samples were sent to G. T. Matzko for processing and pollen extraction
in the chemistry laboratory at Bob Jones University. Some samples were
given washes with dilute hydrochloric acid followed by water washes;
some were given only water washes; and two samples of the Hakatai Shale
were given dilute hydrochloric acid washes followed by digestion in
dilute hydrofluoric acid, and then were given two water washes. From
samples of loose material of Hakatai Shale recovered from two different
locations, given either the hydrochloric acid and water washes or just
water washes, fossil pollen grains were recovered on 8 of 15 slides,
and from loose material from two locations of Hakatai Shale given the
acid wash, hydrofluoric acid digestion, and water wash, fossil pollen
grains were found on 8 of 10 slides. Photographs of the slides, taken
by George Howe, and scanning electron photomicrographs, taken by E.
L. Williams, were sent to an experienced palynologist for examination.
This palynologist was not aware of the source from which the samples
had been obtained. This was done so that objective analyses could be
obtained from an expert in the field not associated with the CRS group.
According to his best judgment, pine pollen, Ephedra-like pollen, angiosperm-type
pollen, fungal spores, and possible algal cells were present on some
of the slides. Howe and his co-workers concluded that these results
support Burdick's claims of having discovered fossil pollen grains of
gymnosperms and angiosperms in the Precambrian Hakatai Shale. This would,
of course, refute the belief of evolutionists that the Precambrian sedimentary
material was laid down hundreds of millions of years before pine trees
(gymnosperms) and flowering plants (angiosperms) existed on the earth.
Howe and co-workers suggest
the possibility that the reason Chadwick and the University of Arizona
workers failed to confirm Burdick's findings was because these workers
may have exposed their samples to prolonged digestion with hydrofluoric
I. Doher, who had developed
the method used by Chadwick and the other workers, had pointed out
that hydrofluoric acid has a corrosive effect on pollen and spores,
and recommended that the sample not be exposed to the acid any longer
than necessary, and should be washed with water immediately after
disaggregation with hydrofluoric acid. The CRS group plans to pursue
further research which will involve additional extracts from their
rock samples, with a more extensive examination of the Supai and Hermit
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