Copyright © 2005 by Creation Research Society. All rights reserved.
The Tertiary Stratigraphy Surrounding Americus, Georgia:
Figure 1 (above). Georgia map showing the study area near Americus.
Figure 2 (right). Conceptual uniformitarian stratigraphic column of southwest Georgia. Note the purported duration in time. (Modified from Bennison, 1975; Braunstein et al., 1988; Cocker and Costello, 2003; Huddlestun, 1981; Reinhardt et al., 1994.)
Uniformitarian geologists working the Tertiary stratigraphy around Americus, Georgia, (Figure 1) recognize a number of sedimentary units. While several road cuts were examined, the best exposures were found in open-pit quarries. Numerous stops were visited but few fossils were encountered. Therefore, uniformitarian scientists have been forced to use lithologic properties of the sediments to delineate the strata. As a result, stratigraphic interpretation tends to focus on the color and lithologic changes in the sediments. This procedure has more in common with Walther’s concept of facies than evolutionary stratigraphy. From the uniformitarian perspective, the lack of paleontologic control should prevent accurate stratigraphy. There is no sure means of determining what portion of the original time-rock record has been removed, and what portion remains. Yet, that uncertainty is not reflected in the interpretation (Figure 2). The absence of evidence for life that purportedly spanned 40 million years seems strange, especially considering that most of the exposed strata have been interpreted as deltaic to nearshore marine. Modern examples of this setting teem with creatures, and at least some minimal trace should be expected in the sediments. Rather than a well-ordered evolutionary sequence of fossils, the sediments composing the Tertiary strata contain sedimentary features reflecting high-energy hydraulic conditions.
Many creationists recognize the inapplicability of the uniformitarian stratigraphic column to creationist stratigraphy (Froede, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998; Reed, 1996a, 1996b, 2001; Reed and Froede, 1997, 2002; Reed et al., 1996). For example, the Tertiary strata in the area surrounding Americus are believed to represent a period of time extending from earliest Paleocene (65 million years) to the close of the Miocene (5.3 million years). Interpreting these sediments in light of the Genesis Flood renders the uniformitarian stratigraphy moot (Figure 3). Instead, it is incumbent on creation scientists to examine the physical properties of the sediments in question and reason from effect to hydraulic and environmental cause (Froede, 1995, 1998, Reed and Froede, 2003). A key parameter in this kind of investigation is energy; expressed in terms of hydraulic flow conditions reflected by the sediments. Despite the short time frame constraining creationists, empirical evidence has demonstrated that thick accumulations of even thinly laminated sediments can accumulate in a matter of days (Austin, 1991).
Figure 3. Conceptual column of southwest Georgia within the framework of the Genesis Flood.
Figure 4. Sandstones of the Nanafalia Formation. The kaolin clasts were eroded from large clay layers, indicating significant current energy. Scale in inches and centimeters.
The various exposures of strata in the region near Americus present excellent locations to examine the succession of sediments. Many of the lithologic layers contain sedimentary features and structures indicative of erosion, transport, and deposition on a large-scale. Figure 4 shows coarse-grained and crudely cross-bedded sandstone containing abundant marble- to pea-size kaolin clasts in the Nanafalia Formation. The kaolin clasts reflect a high-energy erosional setting; it requires significant current energy to rip up clay, much greater than that necessary to erode and transport quartz sand. Figure 5 shows a roadside exposure of a channel later filled with the Altamaha Formation. The total uniformitarian duration of time between the channel filling Altamaha Formation and the underlying Providence Formation is 40 million years, but there is no paleontological evidence to support that conclusion. Their interpretation is based on color and lithologic changes in the sediment; parameters that are easily independent of time.
Figure 5. Roadside channel infilled by the Altamaha Formation. The uniformitarian duration of 40 million years is not supported by paleontological evidence. Key: Providence Formation (Kp), Clayton Formation (Tcl), Altamaha Formation (Ta). See Figures 2 and 3 for reference.
Figure 6 shows the northwest wall of the Guy-Pierce Mine. Uniformitarian scientists believe that this 30-foot high exposure represents approximately 14 million years. Changes in lithology are interpreted to reflect different stratigraphic units and their corresponding ages, but once again none of the strata contain fossils. Sedimentary structures suggesting high-energy deposition also explain the lack of fossils, and would also indicate a short interval of time; conditions consistent with the young-earth/Flood framework. Figure 7 shows an exposed wall in the Fowler Mine. Uniformitarian scientists propose that this exposed section represents approximately 35 million years, but despite the supposed marginal marine setting, fossil evidence remains absent. As with other locales, the strata contain abundant evidence of high-energy deposition.
Figure 6. Northwest wall of the Guy-Pierce Mine (Mulcoa Plant). Stratigraphic key: Nanafalia Formation (Tnf), Tuscahoma Formation (Ttu), Claiborne Group, (Tcb). See Figures 2 and 3 for reference.
Figure 7. Exposed wall in the Fowler Mine (Mulcoa Plant). Scale in feet. Stratigraphic key: Nanafalia Formation (Tnf), Tuscahoma Formation (Ttu), Claiborne Group, (Tcb), Altamaha Formation (Ta). See Figures 2 and 3 for reference.
The strata in the Americus area present, then, a dual problem for uniformitarians. There is no fossil evidence to support their stratigraphic division of the rock record, and sedimentary features indicate energetic currents that would have deposited the sediments within a short period of time. Their reliance on lithology and color is evidence enough of their plight. Such changes are easily explained in terms of variations in the sediment source and the current energy; neither of which require significant amounts of time. It requires great faith to hang a multimillion-year history upon lithologic properties such as the color of a layer of sediment, especially in the absence of any significant trace or body fossil information.
I interpret the strata throughout the study area as reflecting high-energy geologic conditions extending from the close of the Flood, through the Ice Age Timeframe, and into our Present Age Timeframe (see Froede 1995, 1998). It is possible that fossils are absent because the energetic paleoenvironment was not conducive to the establishment of any marginal-marine habitats during so short a period of time. Another possible creationist interpretation might suggest that no hard-bodied invertebrate creatures lived in the area from which these sediments were originally derived (i.e., no formerly living creatures were removed from the eroded sediment source areas, transported, and buried with these sediments). However, this idea does not address the occasional occurrence of trace fossils in the sediments. Perhaps a more reasonable interpretation based on the stratigraphic setting and lithologic content would be that the near absence of any trace fossils and total lack of any body fossils reflect the short time available to marine creatures to establish themselves in a dynamic erosional and depositional setting.
The purported passage of millions of years of Earth history should be represented by more than color or lithologic changes in sedimentary strata. Consistent with their own framework uniformitarians should be forced to provide fossil evidence of deep time or admit their ignorance when such evidence is absent. They should also admit the incongruity of finding few fossils in a marginal marine setting that supposedly existed for many millions of years. Since fossils are absent, the interpretation of the “Tertiary” strata near Americus, Georgia, must rest upon the sedimentary features which reflect the paleohydraulic conditions of deposition. Since those indicate high energy and imply short timeframes for deposition, the young-Earth Flood framework provides a superior model for interpreting these strata. The size and extent of the sedimentary features and lithologic changes, indicate that these strata formed by aqueous deposition in a setting with larger scale and higher energy processes than those proposed by uniformitarians.
I thank Emmett Williams, Jerry Akridge, and John Reed for their very helpful comments. As always, I thank my wife Susan for allowing me the time and opportunity to research and write this article for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any mistakes that may remain are my own. Glory to God in the highest! (Prov. 3:5–6).
CRSQ: Creation Research Society Quarterly
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