© 2001 by Creation Research Society. All rights reserved.
Flood Geology of the Crimean Peninsula
Part I: Tavrick Formation
Alexander V. Lalomov
38 No 3 pp 118-124 December 2001
Sedimentary formations of the Crimean peninsula (southeast Europe, Black
Sea coast) provide evidence of catastrophic deposition in a hydraulic
cataclysm. In spite of this evidence, uniformitarian geologists of the
former USSR described these Crimean sedimentary formations in terms of
gradualism. This article is the first attempt to reinterpret the geology
of Crimea in a creationist framework. Research of the overall Crimean
sedimentary sequence provides evidence of catastrophic sedimentation in
the basin. The first stage of this research reconstructs sedimentary conditions
for the lower part of the sequencethe Tavrick Formation. Investigation
of the Crimean sedimentary sequence illustrates principles of Flood sedimentation
which can then be correlated to strata in similar foldbelts in other regions.
In the description of the geological structure of Crimea, I use the prevalent
terms of the uniformitarian geological column, such as Triassic,
Jurassic, and Cretaceous. This dating is based
upon the biostratigraphic assumption that strata around the globe which
contain the same fossils are of the same age. Inasmuch as the synchronous
nature of such strata is questionable, the absolute dating of these strata
The Crimean Peninsula is located in southeastern Europe on the northern
coast of the Black Sea (Figure 1). Its major geomorphic features include
a plain in the north and mountains in the south. The mountains, part of
the Alpine fold system, extend 200 km from southwest to northeast and
reach an altitude of 1500 m. The peninsula has long been a popular site
for geological field schools for many European Russian Universities.
The Crimean Peninsula has a very complex geological structure. Figure
2 shows a generalized cross section of the Crimean anticline from northwest
to southeast. For easier visualization the cross-section is drawn with
significant vertical exaggeration. The anticline is bounded by faulting
to the southeast and folded strata to the northwest.
The basement of the sedimentary sequence is not seen in outcrop at the
surface. In the northern part of the peninsula, deformed, high-grade metamorphic
shales with diabase dikes and highly metamorphosed limestone are revealed
by drill holes ranging in depth from 500 to 2000 meters (Sidorenko, 1969).
The shales and limestones are assigned to the Precambrian and Paleozoic
Basement rocks are overlain by sandstones and shales of the Tavrick Formation,
conventionally assigned to the Triassic System. The Tavrick Formation
is also known by its informal, but widespread namethe flysch
. The flysch formation is separated from the basement rocks by an apparent
unconformity. Another formation, exhibiting flysch-like layering of shales
and sandstones with interlayers of gravel, tuff and volcanic rocks, is
conventionally assigned to the lower and middle Jurassic series. It overlies
the Tavrick Formation without an angular unconformity. In some outcrops,
the transition from the Tavrick Formation to overlying Jurassic
deposits is gradational. The formal name of the Jurassic strata
is the Eksiordian Formation. The Tavrick and Eksiordian Formations form
a second structural floor of the Crimean mountains. The strata of this
structural floor are deformed by folding (Figure 2).
gravel and sandstones assigned to Upper Jurassic series (Callovian and
Oxfordian stages) overlie the Tavrick and Eksiordian rocks across an angular
unconformity (Figure 2). The erosion surface is mechanical only; there
is no evidence of chemical weathering, fossil soils, or a long hiatus
of sedimentation. Limestones of Kimmeridgian and Tithonian stages of the
Upper Jurassic series conformably overlie (and sometimes juxtapose) the
conglomerates and sandstones. Both the Upper Jurassic conglomerates
and limestones are tectonically tilted. They form the highest mountains
of the Crimean ridge. Far to the northwest they are overlain by Cretaceous,
Paleogene and Neogene limestones and marls.
Under the Soviet regime, all geological interpretation was performed under
the principle of uniformitarianism. Catastrophic approaches were largely
unknown or ridiculed. However, at the Crimean Peninsula, there are clear
field evidences of catastrophic geologic action that have been are interpreted
within the framework of uniformitarianism in spite of the evidence. A
clear example of this is found in the Tavrick Formation. All of the scientific
papers and monographs about the geology of Crimea, and the Tavrick Formation
in particular, demonstrate a uniformitarian bias. One of the most complete
investigations of the Tavrick was performed by noted Russian sedimentologist,
Professor, and Doctor of Science Nicholas Logvinenkomy teacher and
former Chair of Sedimentology (19681992) in the Geology Department
of Saint Petersburg State University. Although his conclusions were colored
by his uniformitarian perspective, his descriptions of the flysch formation
Austin (1994) demonstrated that a catastrophist interpretation can be
made for geologic features long interpreted in the light of uniformitarianism.
In a similar fashion, I propose, on the basis of extensive field research,
that the flysch formation of the Crimean Peninsula yields significant
evidence of catastrophic deposition.
of the Tavrick Formation
The oldest rocks of the Crimean sedimentary sequence exposed in outcrop
are those of the Tavrick, or flysch formation. It is exposed in the central
part of the Crimean anticline and on the south coast of the peninsula.
The formation is composed of rhythmically alternating sandstones, siltstones,
and shales (Figure 3). Limestone layers are also present, but only in
the upper part of the formation. In spite of large numbers of trace fossils,
the flysch formation contains few body fossils. Only in the upper part
of the strata are Halobia fossils observed.
There have been several stratigraphic interpretations of this formation
by different authors. All of these interpretations are based upon uniformitarian
assumption of continuity of the strata, which in one part is based on
the assumption of the simultaneous deposition of each layer in the entire
sedimentary basin. The most detailed classification was made by Logvinenko
(1961) on the basis of his rhythmostratigraphical method. He distinguished
five members (from bottom to the top): (1) Normal Flysch, (2) Normal Flysch
with Quartzite Sandstones, (3) Lower Shale Flysch, (4) Sandstone Flysch
(Inter Shale Member) and (5) Upper Shale Flysch. The first three members
were assigned to the Middle Triassic Series, the last two members to Upper
Triassic Series. These members are not homogeneous; both lateral lithology
changes and local unconformities between the members are present.
The rhythmostratigraphical method is based upon the detailed measurement
of all flysch layers. The ratio of thickness of sandstone to shale layers
is assumed to be unique for each flysch member. Inasmuch as there is no
one continuous outcrop of the flysch formation from bottom to the top,
the local lithostratigraphic column is derived by correlating various
sections. However, even this lithostratigraphic column is suspect; uniformitarian
geologists themselves recognize that the character of flysch can change
laterally very abruptly (Sidorenko, 1969). Also, the flysch formation
appears to have been deposited from moving horizontal currents (as will
be shown later), not evenly over a widespread area, increasing uncertainty
in interpretation (Berthault, 2000). Hence, we can speak with confidence
only about the predominance of shale flysch in the upper part of the formation.
Therefore I propose to divide the Tavrick into two members, typical of
many flysch sequences, which represent a transgressive series. The boundary
between these members is not always obvious.
- The lower
member, or Normal Flysch, with roughly equal thicknesses
of sandstone or siltstone, and shale layers. The thickness of each layer
varies with clast size: coarse-grained sand beds are between 40200
cm thick; medium-grained sand beds, 1050 cm; and fine-grained
sands, 220 cm. The total thickness of the normal flysch member
is unknown. Drilling data shows that it is at least 2000 m, although
visible thickness in outcrop is no more than 800 m.
- The upper
member, or Shale Flysch, which is dominated by shalesup
to 8090 % of the members thickness. Sandstone or siltstone
layers are up to 50 cm in thickness. The Shale Flysch member is 700800
The flysch formation is deformed by folding into a series of synclines
and anticlines. The amplitude of folding ranges from several meters to
kilometers. Small folds occur as a result of the slumping of unconsolidated
deposits, whereas large ones are associated with large-scale tectonic
movements, accompanied by faulting and intrusion of igneous dikes (Figure
The flysch formation has many interesting sedimentary features, such as
dragging grooves, erosion grooves, cross beds, and trace fossils, which
aid interpretation of its origin.
Dragging grooves (or their casts) formed from dragging trees or
stones over the sediment-water interface by the current (Figure 4). These
have widths between 1 and 2 cm, lengths between 50 and 100 cm, and penetration
into the rock between 0.5 and 1 cm. These marks are evidence of deposition
of stratified sediments under conditions of high current velocity. Preservation
of these marks is also evidence of rapid burial.
Erosion groove has been defined as a sedimentary structure
formed by closely spaced lines of straight-sided scour marks. The scouring
may be initially concentrated by a pre-existing groove. (Bates and
Jackson, 1987, p. 227). These structures (or their casts) are common on
the surface of the sandstone and siltstone beds (Figure 5). They reach
10 20 cm in width, 50 100 cm in length, and 5 10
cm penetration into the rock. Another evidence of vigorous erosion is
the absence of part of the upper (shale) beds in the flysch sequence in
the older normal flysch member. The presence of erosion grooves strongly
suggests that these strata were deposited under conditions of vigorous
water current (Dzulinski and Sanders, 1962). These marks also enable researchers
to determine the direction and velocity of the paleocurrent. Erosion grooves
demonstrate that the paleocurrent velocity exceeded the initial erosion
threshold for clay particles (Potter and Pettijohn, 1963). Erosion grooves
are commonly formed on the sediment surface during brief bursts of abrasion
under fast-flowing water conditions (Allen, 1984). Thus, it is
possible to estimate the paleocurrent velocity from the Hjulström
diagram (Hjulström, 1935). For clay particles the paleocurrent velocity
probably exceeded 1.0 m/s. Mapping of erosion and dragging grooves
orientations show a unidirectional paleocurrent from northwest to southeast
during deposition of the flysch formation.
are distinctly inclined thin layers of sand within thick sandstone stratum.
The cross beds are observed in the sandstone layers of flysch. Shales
are always flat-bedded (Figure 6). This is similar to what was observed
by Julien, Lan and Raslan during laboratory flume experiments on stratification
of heterogeneous sand mixtures in current conditions. They noted that:
particle segregation mechanism is at the origin of stratification
structure in which a cross-laminated deposit of mostly coarse particles
lies between two near-paralleled laminated deposits (Julien et al.,
1998, p. 221).
Thus I propose that these structure were formed in similar current conditions,
not as a result of continuous slow sedimentation in a low-energy basin.
The cross beds are generated as a result of the sand moving as waves.
The thickness of the cross beds is up to 0.8 m. Because erosion has removed
the top of each sand wave, the true height of each sand wave could have
been double the present cross bed thickness (Austin, 1994, p. 34). Inasmuch
as the sand-wave height is approximately one-fifth of the water depth
(Austin, 1994, p. 34), the depth of the sedimentary basin that time may
be estimated as not more than 10 m. Using the Rubin and McCulloch diagram
(Rubin and McCulloch, 1980, p. 214), the velocity of the paleocurrent
may be estimated between 0.81.2 m/s.
Trackways of crawling worms and burrows of marine organisms are
also observed in the flysch formation (Figure 7). More specific identification
of the ichnofauna has not been made. There are both surficial and tunnelling
crawling traces on the upper bedding plane of the shale layers. Usually
we see only casts of these traces on the lower bedding plane of the superposed
sandstone layers. Tunnels filled with sand which were later cemented.
Very short fossil tracks (not longer than 0.51 m) are evidence of
short time between sedimentation superposed strata.
Folds also reveal information about the geological history of the
flysch formation. Detailed observation of small folds indicates that there
was not a long period of time between deposition and folding. It appears
that sedimentary beds were soft and plastic during folding (Figure 8);
therefore deposition of strata and folding probably occurred within a
short time of each other, not over a long geological time span.
Compositional similarity across all the flysch strata suggests that during
flysch deposition there was only one source of clastic material for the
entire basin. Moreover, the adjoining coal-bearing sedimentary sequence
in the Donetsk Basin (300400 km to the northeast) assigned to the
Carboniferous System (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian) has a similar mineralogical
composition (Logvnenko and Karpova, 1961, p. 262, table 63). Compositional
similarities over such a broad area strongly suggests that all of these
formations had one common source of sediment and were generated almost
simultaneously by widespread and powerful depositional processes.
Origin of Flysch Formation
These data support several important conclusions:
of the Tavrick Formation occurred under widespread catastrophic paleocurrent
conditions with velocities up to 1.2 m/s, not in a low-energy marine
basin. These high current velocities are seldom observed over large
areas of the modern open ocean (Austin, 1994, p. 35; Hamilton, Sommerville
and Stanford, 1980). Therefore, conditions during deposition of the
Tavrick were probably significantly different from modern analogs.
of the mineral association both within the Crimean sequence and between
it and those in the Donetsk Basin is evidence of a consistent source
relatively distant from the Crimean strata.
of dragging and erosion grooves also strongly suggests rapid sedimentation
under high current conditions. At the same time, trace fossil trackways
are short, suggesting short time spans between deposition of successive
presence of erosion surfaces on the beds are not a result of long periods
of time of quiescence, but are characteristic of deposition under high
current velocity conditions.
period of time between deposition and folding of the strata was very
In summary, these features of the Crimean flysch formation clearly confirm
the superiority of a catastrophic interpretive framework.
What does the relevant uniformitarian literature report? These papers
described all of the features listed above in great detail. They were
written by experienced and observant specialists such as Nicolas Logvinenko.
However, the uniformitarian framework apparently prevented the proper
inference of a catastrophic origin for the observed sedimentary features
of the Tavrick Formation. Logvinenko wrote about the conditions of deposition
for these strata:
The presence of dragging grooves with lengths more than 50100 cm,
widths 12 cm, depths 0.51 cm and erosion grooves with lengths
up to 50 cm, widths 1015 cm and depths up to 5 cm, often S-shaped,
bear witness to high-velocity, turbulent currents (Logvinenko, 1961, translated
from Russian by author).
The preservation of mechanically generated textures such as erosion grooves
and ripple marks is evidence of considerable rate of sedimentation (Logvinenko
and Karpova, 1961, p. 27, translated from Russian by author).
Invariability of the mineral associations is evidence of a single and
complex source of detritus for all of the Crimean peninsula and adjacent
territories during flysch deposition (Logvinenko and Karpova, 1961, p.
134, translated from Russian by author).
The S-shaped form of sills with thickness up to 10 m is evidence of a
pre-fold age of intrusives. Penetration of these sills into non-solidified
sediments has been confirmed by the inviolate character of contacts and
alteration of plagioclase near the contacts by steam (Logvinenko and Karpova,
1961, p. 199, translated from Russian by author).
Sedimentation occurred under conditions of high hydrodynamic activity
and instability of the sediment
Conditions for the existence of
marine organisms were unfavorable (Logvinenko and Karpova, 1961, p. 258,
translated from Russian by author).
The amount of arriving detritus was tremendous: there was much mud not
only near the shoreline, but also very far from the coast
color of the flysch rocks is evidence of a large amount of plant detritus
and organic material arriving into the sedimentary basin (Logvinenko and
Karpova, 1961, p. 260, translated from Russian by author).
What else is needed to draw a conclusion that the flysch formation was
generated under catastrophic conditions of sedimentation? Thus it is interesting
to note the conclusion of the uniformitarian, Logvinenko:
The formation of flysch occurred in marine basins bordering mountain systems
similar to the present day Black Sea, under conditions of small oscillatory
tectonic motions (Logvinenko, 1974, p. 237, translated from Russian by
This is an excellent example of the uniformitarian bias. Belief in an
old age of the Earth and slow processes of sedimentation seems to preclude
obvious inferences from field data.
Out-of-Order Limestones Associated
with the Flysch Formation
There is another interesting feature of the geology of Crimea that appears
to confound uniformitarian doctrine. This is the existence of a few large
(up to hundreds of meters) blocks of limestone assigned to the Carboniferous
System by paleontological dating within and above the flysch strata (Triassic
System). Several uniformitarian geologists have described this feature.
The many attempts to explain this paradoxical relationship include that
of Nicolas Logvinenko:
One of the features of the Main Ridge of the Crimean Mountains is the
inclusion within Triassic strata of more ancient Carboniferous strata.
The genesis of this phenomenon is not clear. It is supposed that these
blocks were located in central parts of Triassic folds and slumped down
the slopes that consisted of clay deposits (Logvinenko, 1998, p. 6, translated
from Russian by author).
Once again, the bias of uniformitarianism prevents these authors from
drawing the more obvious conclusion that the dating method, and hence,
biostratigraphy, might be false.
It is clear that a conceptual framework influences the interpretation
of geologic features to a great extent. This is why researchers with similar
qualifications and ability can draw radically different conclusions from
the same data. Numerous investigations confirm this viewpoint. Valid interpretations
have been performed based on a catastrophist framework at the Grand Canyon
(Austin, 1994, pp. 2156). Similarly, the age of submarine placer
deposits in north-eastern Russia has been shown to lie in a range between
2000 and 5500 years, rather than the 40 million years estimated by uniformitarians
(Lalomov and Tabolitch, 1996) and the age of associated alluvial placer
deposits has been shown to be less than 2000 yearshundreds of times
less than what uniformitarian geologists believe (Lalomov and Tabolitch,
In the same fashion, the flysch formation in Crimea can easily be interpreted
within a creationist framework. Its rocks yield many evidences of rapid,
catastrophic deposition. In spite of these, uniformitarians continue to
assert that the strata were deposited over a long time span (about 30
million years) in a low-energy marine basin bordered by mountains with
small oscillatory tectonic activity (Logvinenko, 1974). It is possible
that uniformitarian interpretations of the Crimea were forced by the political
situation of the USSR in the past. I hope that Russian scientists will
reject the doctrine of uniformitarianism and consider the creationist
There are many difficult and unsolved problems in geology that require
careful research and investigation. The data present challenges for both
the uniformitarian and catastrophist frameworks. But in numerous cases,
the principles of Flood stratigraphy and a recent creation are can be
successfully applied to interpretations of field data such as the Tavrick
Formation of the Crimean Peninsula. Ongoing work there will address other
features of the area within the creationist framework.
CRSQ: Creation Research Society Quarterly
CENTJ: Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal
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