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... continued from Part Ia ...

More Creationist Research




Creation Research Society Quarterly 25(4):161 March, 1989


Formation of Dripstone Deposits Stalagmites and Stalactites 

Uniformitarian geologists assume that dripstone deposits, such as stalagmites and stalactites, form very slowly, and therefore, the existence of large stalagmites and stalactites in natural limestone caves would have required tens of thousands of years or more to form. Creationists challenge this assumption and have therefore exhibited considerable interest in present-day examples of rapid natural dripstone formation and have conducted laboratory experiments designed to measure rates of dripstone formation under various conditions. As a result, many articles and research reports on the subject have been published in the Quarterly (Anon., 1971; Keithley, 1971; Harris, 1971;

Armstrong, 1972; Brady 1973; Williams, 1975; Williams, et al., 1976; Williams and Herdklotz, 1977; Helmick, Rohde and Ross, 1977; Amer, 1978; Cannell, 1978; Williams and Herdklotz, 1978; Williams, House and Herdklotz, 1981; Williams, 1987).

Most recently, a spirited exchange on the subject has been published (Wise, 1988; Williams, 1988). Helmick, Rohde and Ross, in April 1976, discovered numerous stalactites which had formed under a concrete bridge near Cedarville, Ohio (1977, pp. 13-7). The bridge had been built in 1941, and thus the stalactites had formed in no more than 35 years. From the size of the stalactites, they calculated that the minimum rate of growth was 0.53 cm3 per year, considerably in excess of 0.164 cm3 per year sometimes mentioned in the geological literature. They actually observed growth rates several times the minimum rate during some of the year. They refer to reports of growth rates of stalactites on the concrete roof of the Experimental Mine of the United States Bureau of Mines near Bruceton, Pennsylvania, up to 40 times the minimum average rate observed under the concrete bridge. They also relate the fact that the large stalagmite known as Crystal Spring Dome, in Carlsbad Cavern, has been reported to be growing at the rate of 2.5 in3 (41.0 cm3) per year, in spite of the present, dry New Mexico desert above. They calculate that at this rate, a 10,000 in3 stalagmite, which would require 1,000,000 years to form at an average deposition rate of one in3 per hundred years, could actually be formed in only 4000 years. Taking into account the possibility of even higher growth rates, they declare it is apparent that even the largest known dripstone could have formed in only a few thousand years. The observation of the relatively rapid rate of growth of the stalagmite in Carlsbad Cavern is especially important, since this involves growth rates under a natural cave environment from calcium carbonate, rather than from concrete, which contains a considerable amount of calcium hydroxide in addition to calcium carbonate. Calcium hydroxide is about 100 times more soluble in water than is calcium carbonate (but see below the discussion of this factor in the exchange between Wise and Williams).

E. B. Cannell (1978, pp. 9-11) reported rapid stalactite growth in two cement tunnels in a water treatment plant located on the Ottawa River in Quebec. The minimum growth rate, calculated on the basis of the date of construction of the tunnels and the date of discovery of the stalactites, and the volume of the largest stalactite, was 4.61 cm3 per year, 28 times greater than the average of 0.164 cm3 per year cited in geological literature. Although temperature ranges in the tunnels were approximately those in natural caves, Cannell did cite a number of conditions that are unlike those that are encountered under natural conditions that might affect rates of formations.

Amer (1978, pp. 9-11) reports on the discovery of stalactites in an abandoned tunnel that was formerly part of the London subway system. Some of the stalactites were two feet in length. London's underground railway system was completed in 1890. This would yield a growth rate of about 70 mm per year, which is considerably greater than that reported by Cannell for his stalactites.

Williams, Herdklotz, Mulfinger, Jonsonbaugh, and Pierce (1976, pp. 211-2) published the first in a series of four papers placed in the Quarterly concerning laboratory experiments on the rate of deposition of calcium carbonate from an aqueous solution. Their experimental apparatus was designed to simulate the solution of calcium carbonate as ground water seeps through limestone formations and then redeposits the calcium carbonate as stalactites, as the mineralized water drips from the roof of limestone caves.

In their experiments, they employed tap water plus carbon dioxide; tap water plus carbon dioxide plus 5% sodium chloride; and tap water plus carbon dioxide plus 1% acetic acid. Normal surface water percolating through soil picks up carbon dioxide present in soil. The solution containing added sodium chloride is postulated to be similar to waters of the Flood that would have receded from the earth through recently consolidated limestone. The solution containing added acetic acid simulates a type of Flood water containing humic acid from the decay of organisms. The solutions containing sodium chloride and acetic acid dissolved four to five times as much calcium carbonate as did the water containing only carbon dioxide. The solution containing carbon dioxide and sodium chloride deposited almost twice as much dissolved calcium carbonate as did the solution containing only carbon dioxide. These investigators claimed their experimental results indicated that massive precipitation of calcium carbonate is possible under laboratory conditions. If their laboratory conditions approximate natural conditions that may have existed after the Flood, their results would also indicate, of course, that the formation of stalactites and stalagmites would have occurred much more rapidly than under present conditions.

    E. L. Williams and R. L. Herdklotz (1977, pp. 192-9) published the second paper in the series. They cite reports by several investigators that establish the fact that water percolating through soil picks up relatively large quantities of carbon dioxide. They used apparatus similar to that described in the first paper and also a simpler apparatus. Their test solutions were similar to those in earlier experiments, and they also tested for the effect of temperature. For the experiment testing the effect of temperature, they employed water containing only carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide-enriched water, warmed to about 45C, dissolved the limestone, and redeposited the limestone as it dripped from the apparatus. The deposition is not due to evaporation, but is due to the loss from solution of carbon dioxide. The solubility of calcium carbonate is regulated by the relationship

    CaCO3 + H20 + C02 <==> Ca++ + 2HCO3-

Addition of carbon dioxide shifts the reaction to the right, dissolving calcium carbonate and forming the much more soluble calcium bicarbonate, while decomposition of calcium bicarbonate with the loss of carbon dioxide from solution shifts the reaction to the left, with formation of the much less soluble calcium carbonate, resulting in its deposition. The higher temperature drives off carbon dioxide from solution, and shifts the reaction to the left, with deposition of calcium carbonate. The experiment was very successful, with large amounts of calcium carbonate being deposited on the strings employed in their apparatus, similar to what is found in natural stalactites.

Based on the rates of deposition of calcium carbonate they obtained under various conditions -- 5% sodium chloride solution, plus carbon dioxide at 25C; water, plus carbon dioxide at 45C; water, plus carbon dioxide, with the temperature raising from 8C to 25C; a very rapid rate of calcium carbonate deposition was indicated.

Williams and Herdklotz, postulating conditions that could reasonably be assumed to have existed at the time the Flood waters would have been receding, made an attempt to calculate the rate at which caves could form in limestone deposits. Under ordinary conditions, if 15% of 40 inches of rain per year were available for limestone solution, their calculations indicated that in one year, a cave of 3 ft. x 6 ft. cross section x 120 ft. long would be formed per square mile of surface. Of course, during the waning stages of the Flood, quantities of water vastly in excess of that would have been available for dissolution of calcium carbonate and consequent cave formation.

The third paper in the series was also published by Williams and Herdklotz (1978, pp. 88-91) who attempted to produce calcium carbonate dripstone under laboratory conditions which included water charged with carbon dioxide dripping in an atmosphere of 100% humidity. No dripstone formed. It has been suggested that decomposition of proteins and other nitrogen-containing substances would produce ammonia and other amines. To test this effect, an experiment was conducted with carbon dioxide-charged water in which ammonia was admitted into the apparatus. Even under excessively humid conditions, some calcium carbonate did precipitate. Thus it appears that even under very humid conditions, with ammonia present in the atmosphere the precipitation and subsequent slow growth of dripstone is possible.

In order to determine whether some of the dripstone which was produced from dolomite (which contains both calcium and magnesium) was formed by evaporation as well as by precipitation due to loss of carbon dioxide (as happens when true dripstone forms), a sample of the dripstone produced in the laboratory at 45C was titrated in solution with EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetate). This revealed that all of the deposit was calcium carbonate, indicating that none had formed by evaporation. If some of the dripstone had formed by evaporation, the deposit would contain both calcium and magnesium carbonates.

Williams and Herdklotz, in this report, cited statements by uniformitarian geologists, cautioning against claims that the time span required to form stalactites and stalagmites can be estimated using rates of formation under present conditions.

They quoted James H. Gardner (1935, p. 1270):

    "The rate at which dripstone forms is a variable factor, due to changing circumstances; it depends on the amount of seepage water, the quantity of carbonate in solution, and the rate of precipitation. It is a common practice to attempt to fix the age of dripstone by the rate at which it forms, but this is plainly a valueless calculation. It invariably results in the fixing of the age of a stalactite or stalagmite in proportion to its size; the largest will be the oldest and the smallest the youngest. For example, in Carlsbad Cavern at the present time, the management maintains a large sign on an immense stalagmite, stating that it is estimated to have an age of 60 million years. Guides give the information that the calculation is based on the rate of so many cubic inches per year at which such dripstone formed. The writer believes that such signs should be removed by the National Park Service as being misleading to the public."

In quoting Gardner and others, creationists do not imply that they necessarily agree with creationists that these stalactites and stalagmites did form in just a few thousand years, and, of course, creationists acknowledge that neither laboratory nor field work should be used to make claims concerning the age of these dripstones. Laboratory experiments and investigations in the field by creationists may be used, however, to indicate that it is possible that these dripstones could have formed much more rapidly than is usually acknowledged.

The fourth paper in this series was published by Williams, House, and Herdklotz (1981, pp. 205-8,226). In these experiments, they found that there was a lag time of about 400 hours before dripstone began to form. They suggested that this lag may be due to the time necessary to allow the removal of carbon dioxide from solution, or it may be due to the time necessary to supersaturate the solution with calcium carbonate before solid nuclei of the precipitating compound will become stable. They also tested for the effect of drip time. They found that a time between drops (in seconds) of 43 and 90 yielded a bit over 0.05 grams per string, a time of 125 gave 0.132 grams, and a time of 215 gave 0.108 grams per string. They postulate that fast drop formation is a deterrant to precipitation, because the "dwell time" of the drop on the string is not sufficient to allow the release of carbon dioxide so that calcium carbonate can precipitate, while excessive "dwell time" may cause slow monocrystalline growth rather than rapid polycrystalline growth that occurs with somewhat faster moving drops.

They concluded that their results indicate that pressure loss in dripping water, in which calcium carbonate and carbon dioxide are dissolved, can produce rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate under laboratory conditions. The rate of precipitation is dependent on a number of factors, including pressure drop, chemical composition differences in solution and atmosphere, drip rate, and temperature differences. These experiments lead to the conclusion that large masses of calcium carbonate can be deposited rapidly, under proper conditions.

In an appendix Williams and his co-workers quote a report from a newsletter of a caving club (Trout, 1975).

    "The trip really became interesting when we came to the area just above the rubble slope which leads to the 'Rattlesnake Room'. The new growth was simply unbelievable. All who were familiar with the cave were engaged in a 'come over here and see what is new' contest.

    "The real shock came when someone pointed out the new growth behind the 'Bat Burial' formation. Three new stalactites had grown and the longest was some longer than 12". The time since the last photo was taken of this wall was just over 3 months ago so the growth rate of the largest stalactite would be approximately 4" per month or 1 inch every 7.5 days. Unbelievable? Yes! In fact, if any caver believes this without seeing for himself it would surprise me. Luckily though we have been photographing the same spot for 15 years and have all the photos with dates."


Depositional Interbedding and Time Frames in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon and theories concerning its formation have long inspired interest by geologists, evolutionists and creationists alike. Evolutionary geologists have expressed increasing frustration at attempts to explain its formation. Evolutionary geologists believe that the area encompassing much of the Canyon was uplifted 65 million years ago, but that the Colorado River which flows through it did not originate until about four million years ago. It is obvious that if these assumptions are correct, the Colorado River could not have cut the Grand Canyon. If a newly flowing river encountered an uplifted area, it would never climb up over it and subsequently cut a canyon - it would simply flow around it. In the museum on the south rim of the Canyon is a description of several geological theories on the formation of the Canyon, followed by an admission that all of these theories have serious faults. The Havasupai Indian account of the formation of the Grand Canyon is then given. According to these Indians who live in one of the offshoots of the Canyon, the Grand Canyon formed during a great world-wide flood. Much physical evidence supports this belief.

William Waisgerber, a consulting geologist and President of William Waisgerber and Associates, Consulting Geologists; George Howe, Director of the CRS Grand Canyon Experiment Station and Chairman and Professor, Division of Natural Science and Mathematics, The Master's College; and Dr. Emmett Williams (1987, pp.160-7) reported on two field trips to the Grand Canyon to study the alleged unconformity between the Mississippian Redwall Limestone and the Cambrian Muav Limestone along the North Kaibab Trail. Evolutionary and other uniformitarian geologists believe that there exists a 200 million-year time gap between the top of the Cambrian Muav Limestone and the base of the Mississippian Redwall Limestone, since intervening Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian rocks are absent. Clifford Burdick, a consulting geologist who had made an earlier study of the contact between the Cambrian Muav and the Mississippian Redwall, reported that he had found evidence of intertonguing between these two formations, contradicting the notion that 200 million years had intervened between the deposition of the Cambrian Muav and the Mississippian Redwall. Waisgerber and his colleagues, with support from the CRS Research Committee, formed a field team to reinvestigate the area studied by Burdick.

Waisgerber and his colleagues confirmed Burdick's observations concerning interbedding of the Cambrian Muav and the Mississippian Redwall. Along the North Kaibab Trail is a sign erected by the National Park Service identifying the contact between the Redwall Limestone and the Muav Limestone. The CRS team reports that commencing from an area about 100 yards north of the sign to about 100 yards south of the sign, all beds apparently interfinger with one another. They determined that yellowish appearing micaceous shales were the uppermost Cambrian Muav Limestone. Immediately above these shales were typically reddishcolored Mississippian Redwall Limestone beds. Any attempt to trace individual beds laterally, southerly or northerly along the North Kaibab Trail, however, resulted in a reverse stratigraphic relationship. Supposedly, older Muav Formation yellowish beds rested on allegedly younger reddish-stained Redwall limestone beds. Lateral and vertical facies changes within both formations indicate the absence of unconformable relationships between the Redwall Limestone and the Muav Limestone. In other words, where allegedly older Cambrian Muav Limestone rests on allegedly younger Mississippian Redwall Limestone, the contact is a true sedimentary contact and thus the Muav Limestone was deposited on top of the Redwall Limestone. The evidence contradicts the notion that here, where "older" strata (older by 200 million years!) rests on "younger" strata, the inversion was caused by overthrusting or other geologic events.

Waisgerber and colleagues searched an area 50 feet above and below the contact line between the Muav Limestone and Redwall Limestone for physical evidences of the supposed 200 million-year hiatus between these two formations. They point out that such evidences would include: 1) obvious, pronounced erosional features incised into the highest of Muav Limestone beds; 2) basal Redwall Limestone beds exhibiting boulders and cobbles of eroded Muav Limestone beds; 3) Muav Limestone beds dipping somewhat more steeply than overlying Redwall Limestone beds; 4) Muav Limestone beds being somewhat more folded than Redwall Limestone beds; 5) more complex joint systems in the Muav than in the Redwall; 6) more faulting in the Muav than in the Redwall, and particularly; 7) a decidedly different lithology within each of the formations, due to supposed changing regional environments. None of these features was seen. All of the beds were seen to be homoclinal, each bed resting directly on another bed with no known structural deviation. joint planes commencing in alleged Muav Limestone beds seemingly intersected Redwall Limestone similarly. There were no notches and grooves (which would be evidence of a time gap, the time required for the underlying strata to be incised by erosion) in the underlying Cambrian Muav Limestone filled in by material from the Mississippian Redwall Formation, as should be the case if there were a huge time gap between the laying down of these two formations. The evidence clearly indicates that the Mississippian Redwall Limestone was laid down conformably on the Cambrian Muav Limestone with no time gap in between.

The authors of the paper cite the publications of several uniformitarian geologists which also indicate the difficulty in identifying evidences for an unconformity between the Muav and Redwall Limestones. Their paper also contains citations from the geological literature in which the authors admit the difficulty in documenting other alleged unconformities in the Grand Canyon. Waisgerber, Howe and Williams close their paper with the following conclusions:

    "1. The unconformity supposedly separating the Redwall Limestone from the underlying Muav Limestone does not exist. Consequently there cannot be any 200 million-year hiatus.

    "2. Since the 200 million-year hiatus cannot exist, the dating of Redwall Limestone and Muav Limestone as Mississippian and Cambrian with their supposed ages, respectively, cannot be valid.

    "3. Because the Paleozoic time periods cannot be valid, then the longer time unit known as the Paleozoic Era cannot be real.

    "4. Since the Paleozoic Era cannot be a real geologic time unit, historical geologic time must be suspect.

    "5. Because historical geology is suspect, the megaevolutionary model cannot be confirmed by historical geology because there is no true definition of geologic time.

    "6. Since the evolution model cannot be sustained historically, it behooves all scientists to search for alternative models as regards the origin of the earth, the origin of life on earth, and the time necessary to effect such origins.

    "7. The various formations within the Grand Canyon area could have been deposited one formation on another, without the need for millions of years of depositional time and millions of years of unaccountable time (hiatuses)."


Precipitation Brought About by Mixing Brines

The existence of extensive beds of rock salt (sodium chloride), gypsum (CaSO4.2H20) and anhydrite (CaSO4) has long been considered by uniformitarian geologists to be evidence for evaporation, over tens of thousands or millions of years, of shallow seas on inland lakes. Thus, these beds are commonly referred to as evaporites. Many of these deposits are massive. Some salt domes are described as having salt cores that have a roughly circular or oval horizontal section 1,000 feet to two miles or so in diameter. The core may extend downward for several thousand feet. It is believed that there are plugs in Europe extending downward 15,000-20,000 feet. Since it requires evaporation of 8,000 feet of sea water to produce 100 feet of salt, it would require an unbelievable amount of evaporation to produce several thousand feet of salt and of course the sea floor would have to continually subside at just the right rate to maintain the existence of the sea.

In recent times, geologists have recognized the many difficulties in the evaporate scenario and have sought other explanations for the formation of these extensive salt beds. One of the more recent suggestions has been that these salt beds formed when brines were intruded into the ocean from openings in the sea floor (Nutting, 1984). Thus, vast time spans would not be required for the formation for these so-called evaporites, or salt formations. It has been suggested that the mixing of different kinds of brines, say of sodium chloride and magnesium chloride, each originally saturated, might cause precipitation of one or both of the salts. Omer B. Raup has conducted some experiments that have shown that much salt is precipitated when brines are mixed. The precipitation took place without any evaporation of water or change of temperature.

    F. L. Wilcox and S. T. Davidson (1976, pp. 87-9) thought it worthwhile to repeat some of Raup's work and to carry the work further and they have reported the results of their experiments sponsored by the CRS Research Committee. They used saturated solutions of sodium chloride (NaCl) and of magnesium chloride (MgCl2). Mixing of the brines caused precipitation of NaCl. They found that the greatest amount of NaCl precipitated, expressed as percent of the total NaCl initially present in the mixed brines, was obtained when the volume percent of the NaCl brine was about 20% (that is, when the brines mixed consisted of 20 ml of the saturated NaCl solution and 80 ml of the saturated MgCl2 solution, or comparable amounts). They postulate that when the two solutions are mixed, the MgCl2 tends to attract water molecules from NaCl. As the number of water molecules available to NaCl decreases, the NaCl begins to precipitate from solution. They suggested future experiments employing subsaturated solutions and about 25 volume percentage NaCl solution and testing the effect of temperature.


*Investigation of an Elliptical Formation in the Tendurek

Mountains of Turkey*


William H. Shea (1976, pp. 91-5) described an elliptical, boat-shaped object in the Tendurek Mountains about 30 miles southwest of Mount Ararat in Turkey. This object was brought to public attention in 1959. Ca oftain Sevket Kurtis had taken photos in the vicinity the Tendurek mountains and he brought the photos with him when he came to Ohio State University to do advanced work in connection with aerial surveying. It was reported that Captain Ilhan Duripinar had discovered the object on one of the photos while using a stereoplanograph in preparing maps. The picture was published in several newspapers and magazines, along with speculations about the Ark. Shea did not visit the site but his discussion was based on an examination of the photo and a report by p that visited the site in 1960. They found no arheological evidence of the Ark and no human artifacts. Shea speculates that possibly this is the site where the Ark landed (the site is at an elevation of 6,000 feet) but that the Ark itself was destroyed by fire due to hot lava which contacted the boat.

Clifford L. Burdick, (1976, pp. 96-8) visited the site of this object in 1973. He reports that the object is only a geological and tectonic phenomenon. That year Burdick was a member of a team that was on Mount Ararat searching for the Ark. In the course of events, he met the commanding general at Dogubayaset, a city near Mount Ararat. The general claimed he could take Burdick to the site of the object for which they were searching, the Ark of Noah. Burdick was escorted to the Tendurek Mountains and to the site of the boatshaped object reported in 1959.

According to Burdick's observation, a small fault or fracture of about 500 feet occurred along a stream bed. Apparently a granitic or rhyolitic type of intrusive lava had pushed up through clay along the center of the formation, making an elevated ridge along the center. Possibly as the molten or plastic rock rose through the clay bed of the wash, it raised the hardened clay with it. Burdick reports that the hardened clay did resemble the sides of a ship, and from a distance might be interpreted as such. Burdick's observations convinced him that this object could not possibly have any relevance to the Ark.



CRSQ = Creation Research Society Quarterly

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___. 1980. New proton and neutron models. CRSQ 17:42-7.

___. 1981. Satellite observations confirm the decline of the

earth's ma agnetic field. CRSQ 18:39-41

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___, et al. 1982b. Electric theory of gravitation. CRSQ 19:113-6.

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___. 1976. The elliptical formation in the Tendurek Mountains CRSQ 13:96-8.

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