Is folded sedimentary rock evidence for a young Earth?

The Grand Canyon is well known for its remarkably horizontal layers, especially as viewed from the rim. But venturing outside of this National Park (or even down into the canyon), you’ll find many cases in which sedimentary rock has been folded in to tight arcs, apparently without crumbling into pieces. In fact, Young-Earth creationists frequently present folded sedimentary rocks as evidence against the conventional age of the Earth. “If the rock were fully lithified,” they ask, “how could it have been folded without compromising the general structure of the layers?” As an alternative, they propose that these layers, by and large, were still soft (during or shortly after the Flood) when they were deformed into the shapes we see today.

A few years back, I responded to a brief article by Dr. Snelling, who listed sedimentary folds as one of the six best evidences for a young Earth. If this topic is new to you, I encourage you to read my article for a brief overview on how rocks fold and fracture, why this poses no challenge to the conventional geologic timescale, and why we should expect to find (and do find) abundant fractures in most folded sedimentary rocks.

If you venture down to the comments, however, you’ll find a set of very perceptive questions from commenter “copernicus365”, who has spent a lot of time thinking about the topic of sedimentary rock deformation. His questions (quoted below) deserve more than what I would offer briefly in the comment box, so I would like to share them here, along with my responses.

The question is not simply: “Are there any cracks to be found,” but rather: “Is it possible for lithified strata to contort into shapes in an apparently fluid manner?”

You’re correct. I addressed the question as to whether cracks were present, however, because authors like Andrew Snelling consistently misrepresent geological outcrops by insisting that the rocks did not fracture while being folded. The fact is, minor fractures (from tens of centimeters wide to less than a millimeter) are visible in every outcrop of folded sedimentary layers (even those pictured by ICR and CMI, if you look closely), but especially in hairpin folds. The trick is that Snelling’s photos are all taken from a distance to hide the ubiquitous presence of these features. But the phenomenon is remarkably well documented by oil companies and petroleum geologists (e.g. here), who depend on those fractures to carry oil and water freely through the rocks.

Before moving on, I want to point out that this settles the question as it relates to the age of the Earth. The presence of fractures associated with folding demonstrates unequivocally that these sedimentary layers were lithified prior to deformation. Therefore, ‘Flood geology’ provides no plausible mechanism by which to explain fine-scale features of the geologic column.

You yourself admit: “Nearly all rocks exposed at the surface are thoroughly fractured or faulted” … so I find the two minor examples of cracks you give above (see the two pictures) as insufficient.

I’m sorry that I could not provide more personal photos as examples, so I am relying on a couple tools to aid my claims: 1) Google image searches, and 2) a sincere exhortation for you to look closely the next time you drive past sedimentary folds in road cuts, because I am confident in what you’ll find. As for online resources, this page provides a fantastic photo tour of some amazing coastal outcrops in southern England. Note the evidence for brittle deformation (faults, fractures, and pulverizing of the layer into minor slabs):

Sedimentary folds in the Purbeck Group along the Essex coast of southern England; photo by Ian West (2014)

To have solid lithified strata fold sometimes even in 90 degree angles, there should be evidence not simply of minor cracks *with still an overall fluid folding*, but rather nearly no fluid bending, and instead full on breakage and pulverization at the folds.

This is not true, unless the fold was created relatively swiftly, as in the case of sedimentary rocks in the Snake Valley of Great Basin National Park or nearby Death Valley. There, so-called ‘megabreccias‘—giant blocks of sedimentary rock that were pulverized into smaller blocks—formed as the valley was torn apart, so to speak, by frequent earthquakes and stretching of the uppermost crust.

When sedimentary rocks are folded slowly under pressure—not metamorphic pressures, just enough to confine the rock layers—it is possible for limestone, sandstone, and shale to deform without breaking up as you describe. This has been known experimentally at least since the late 1950’s (Handin and Hager, 1957; 1958) and remains valid today.

In the one example you gave above… notice how we do not see formerly flat strata *broken up into multiple smaller plates* to form the bend, without ever actually forming a curve. That’s not what we find. Look at the outside perimeter at the top or at any of the layers, notice how they form a fluid arc, a fluid fold. How did that happen with solid rock?

This is a keen observation and a very reasonable question. There are two reasons the layer structure remains intact and the arc appears ‘fluid’, as you describe. First, the strain is released gradually through millions of tiny fractures if the rock is bent slowly, rather than through a few large ones. This prevents the layers from breaking up into smaller plates, even as they are folded into a curve, but often these fractures are visible only under a microscope (see below). Secondly, sedimentary rocks are comprised of grains, which are cemented together—typically—by relatively weak minerals like calcite. The ability for sedimentary rocks to bend, therefore, depends more on the strength of the cement than the type of rock (e.g. Bruno and Nelson, 1991). Cements can crack or dissolve, allowing individual grains to shift around as though the rock were unlithified. Remember, buried rocks always have water flowing through them! This process can be identified under a microscope, because it results in distinct forms of cement between the grains, due to recrystallization.

Microfractures in shale as seen through a microscope. Image from CoreLab product description, but it aids my point!

Grab a stack of ceramic plates from your kitchen, now step on them. Do it slowly or over a long time of slowly adding more weight and pressure. Do the plates start to contort and bend around your foot? Of course not. These plates of course are not cemented together, but all that means (as a common sense expectation) is we can expect pulverization at the fold with the actual strata, since the strata have no empty space to ‘snap’ into, that bending energy will just result in material being pulverized, or in other cases, being metamorphically transformed.

Sedimentary rocks are fundamentally different from ceramic plates, so the analogy is invalid. Ceramic has been heat treated to the point that a glassy structure develops throughout the entire shape, whereas sedimentary rocks are grains bound only by tiny, imperfect crystals of calcite, hematite, or silica, for example. Hence ceramic will break cleanly and cannot deform through the process I described above.

For a technical article from us on this subject, rather than a popular level article which you were responding to (that point itself answers some of your questions about why Snelling did not go more in depth, or provide more detail pictures, which of course he could do), see: Tight Fold and Clastic Dikes as Evidence for Rapid Deposition and Deformation of Two Very Thick Stratigraphic Sequences, ICC 1986, pp. 3–13.

Thanks for the link. I have seen this paper before and dealt specifically with his unfortunately deceptive claims regarding the Ute Pass Fault and sand injectites in a previous article. I’m afraid Snelling’s treatment of sedimentary deformation is equally misleading. For one, the very existence of a boulder breccia (Figs. 1 & 2, below) contradicts the Flood geology portrait, because it implies that older rocks had to be completely lithified and were slowly eroded into angular boulders, before accumulating in the deposit at Split Mountain. Yet the underlying sandstones remained unlithified, according to Snelling?

Fig12

Secondly, Snelling’s description of the faulting event and emplacement of the boulder breccia—that “physical separation of hanging wall from footwall must have occurred as about 400 feet of vertical slip occurred on the fault. The gap or mismatch of hanging wall and footwall produced a long trench-like hole into which secondary faulting allowed overlying material to fall or flow”—is complete nonsense to any structural geologist. There is no reason to think that fault offset did not occur episodically, and Snelling’s own figure (Fig. 1) provides evidence for this. Instantaneous movement along the fault would not have created the concave deformation of sandstone layers adjacent to the fault, especially if they were still soft!

So, episodically formed tight folds in a water-saturated, weakly cemented sandstone offer no challenge to the conventional geological age of these rocks. If Snelling’s claims were even remotely valid, they could be published in an actual peer-reviewed journal. Even in his ‘technical’ article, Snelling did not provide the kind of details required by my critique of his popular article—namely, close-up photos of the microfractures, thin-section analysis, and details of grain cements.

You may also find interesting YEC geologist Emil Silvestru’s take on this question here (I was the one asking the question there).

Yes, his response is very interesting to me, so thanks again for the link. I myself wrote to Dr. Silvestru a few years ago regarding the dating of cave deposits (something I study), but I was disappointed by his response. In this case, Dr. Silvestru demonstrates for us that he understands structural geology rather poorly (or is intent on misrepresenting it). In his first point, he asks rhetorically why nobody has tried to deform sedimentary rocks experimentally, despite that such experiments (I linked a couple above) have been ongoing since the 1950’s! In the second point, he assumes falsely that metamorphic conditions should have been reached locally within formations like the Old Red Sandstone (e.g. at the apex of folds). But the conversion of sandstone to quartzite depends on more than temperature/pressure (it depends also on water moving through the rock). Besides, temperatures at the apex of the fold would not be significantly higher than for the rest of the rock, because strain is relieved through millions of microfractures, preventing temperatures from climbing due to strain (as in a metal plate!). As for the last point, it seems the owner of the photo to which Dr. Silvestru referred has already responded, and I would have little to add.

Thanks again for your comment, and I hope this clarifies some of my previous points. If not, feel free to follow up with more questions!

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10 responses to “Is folded sedimentary rock evidence for a young Earth?

    • This rate can vary, depending on the original environment in which sediments were deposited, as well as the burial history of the sediments. For lime mud and sand that settles out in the ocean, it could take millions of years for any given layer to lithify completely, because the stable water chemistry prevents cement from precipitating between the grains. On the other hand, when lime mud is exposed to the atmosphere and rainwater (e.g. some of the Bahamas shorelines), it can harden as it’s being deposited, meaning in only a few thousand years. But this scenario is somewhat rare and is easily identifiable in ancient sediments.

      Deep burial and high temperatures tend to make the lithification occur faster, but the process requires groundwater (with dissolved minerals) to flow through the rocks—a very slow process in every case, because so much water is needed. On the other hand, the presence of organic material and oil can prevent cementation completely and keep sediments soft for a nearly indefinite period of time.

      In short, lithification is not a rapid process, and the thicker the layers, the longer it takes. The fact that nearly all sedimentary rocks are completely lithified today stands firmly against speculations in Flood geology.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Greetings Mr. Baker / Greetings Jonathan.

    Pardon my lengthy response, I should probably make this into a stand alone article on a blog of my own. Even so, if you don’t mind, I’ve split this response into 4 parts.

    [If you venture down to the comments, however, you’ll find a set of very perceptive questions from commenter “copernicus365”]

    Thanks for the compliment. My name is Nicholas Petersen. You can read a little more about me here, and though I’m currently transferring this next site, also here.

    JB: [Young-Earth creationists frequently present folded sedimentary rocks as evidence against the conventional age of the Earth. “If the rock were fully lithified,” they ask, “how could it have been folded without compromising the general structure of the layers?”]

    That is correct.

    I appreciate you highlighting the chief question I posed, which is important enough to restate again:

    The question is not simply: “Are there any cracks to be found,” but rather: “Is it possible for lithified strata to contort into shapes in an apparently fluid manner?”

    I originally planned on giving a photo gallery of many great examples of clearly fluid rock bending (yes, without the kind of major breaking fractures we would expect if they were lithified), but for now, here are a few to consider:

    (src)

    (src)

    (src, note though there is metamorphism here)

    (src)

    (src)

    JB: [You’re correct. I addressed the question as to whether cracks were present, however, because authors like Andrew Snelling consistently misrepresent geological outcrops by insisting that the rocks did not fracture while being folded.]

    Perhaps we should be more specific in some cases. However, I think you are getting some chronology out of order, as if we all had your own theory in mind which depends on these tiny cracks. And besides, I have seen many pictures of such radical folds (in anticlines, synclines, chevron folds, ‘crazy-clines’ — as some people were calling the Split Mountain fold!) where there was little to no apparent evidence of significant fractures. So in many cases, I still think it is correct to speak of ‘no fractures.’ And yet you seem to be hoping in all of these cases to find an abundant number of small cracks to do all of the work. That is fine, but you shouldn’t scold others because they haven’t done all the field work to support your own theory. When these creationists have spoken of ‘no fractures,’ it is plain and evident that they were referring to fractures that match the severity of the folding we see, which would thus be very extreme fractures! So again: you yourself are now bringing in your own hypothesis that makes much ado about even microscopic cracks, while at the same time scolding and even impugning creationists who have spoken of ‘no fractures,’ as if they should have in retrospect addressed your own theory. I suspect you did this unconsciously, but it’s an illogical expectation nonetheless.

    JB: [Snelling consistently misrepresents … The trick is that Snelling’s photos are all taken from a distance to hide the ubiquitous presence of these features.]

    First, I have just analysed many such radical folds like this, and in almost every case, even when dealing with high-definition photographs (there are some great galleries on flikr for instance), it still would be helpful to have even more detail up close on certain areas (and beyond that of course, to simply visit there in the field). Second, in many (not all, but many) of these cases, I see little evidence of the kinds of cracks you are hoping for, unless you are talking microscopic. Ultimately, we would fully agree with you that it would be good to have in-depth research on many specific case-examples. Third, I would bet Andrew Snelling would be thrilled to have the time to do an in-depth research on, for instance, these folds in the Tapeats Sandstone. The evidence from this is markedly in our favor. The Snelling article you were referring to was part of their layman magazine I believe, and I would bet the pictures posted there were more a matter of magazine web team editorial decisions. Frivolous accusations like this do not encourage further dialogue. Even so, I appreciate honest challenges, especially from intelligent geologists such as yourself.

    As an aside Jonathan, reading your about page, I can’t help but thinking you missed the road. You say your first geology book was Steve Austin’s Grand Canyon book, I have that as well and it is excellent. But I wonder how much fellowship you had with those with like Christian/biblical convictions? You certainly didn’t train with some of these biblical geologists that you now seem to mock so often. It’s no surprise to me that after going to a school that is entrenched in evolutionary thinking (both geological as well as biological), after enduring that for some years you finally abandoned your biblical view of earth history. Few make it through such a gauntlet. I would be curious though if you truly held strong convictions beforehand. I’m not insinuating you didn’t, it’s an honest question.

    JB: [Before moving on, I want to point out that this settles the question as it relates to the age of the Earth. The presence of fractures associated with folding demonstrates unequivocally that these sedimentary layers were lithified prior to deformation.]

    Surely you could give 5 examples, right off the top of your head, for reasons that fractures or cracks form in all kinds of materials. They can form during the formation process itself in fact (rapidly in our case), and through many other means. Put simply, most rocks have cracks. With regard to your picture here, first of all, the pinching and thinning of strata as they fold, as that graphic shows (and as many real examples show) where at the tightest angle they thin out extremely thin compared to their original depth, is powerful testimony to these layers having been in a ductile and fluid state, which shows they were unlithified. That at these folds many minor cracks or fractures form is probably to be expected in our scenario as well. I’m not a geologist, but for instance, I can imagine earth movement in the following thousands of years probably paying more of a toll, in terms of causing cracks and minor fractures, in tightly folded areas, since the strata layers are closer bunched up and hitting one another during earthquakes, as opposed to more open horizontal flat stretches.

    I wrote (as you cited):
    [You yourself admit: “Nearly all rocks exposed at the surface are thoroughly fractured or faulted” … so I find the two minor examples of cracks you give above (see the two pictures) as insufficient.]

    While I appreciate your response at this point, I am afraid you may be missing my point: Rocks and strata of the earth of course get beaten up and tortured (there’s a good Tolkien riddle about this), the question is: Can lithified strata act like they are fluid and bend into incredible arcs and hair pin structures without busting at those tight flex points? I do appreciate the Lulworth site and pictures. And yet I am afraid we are seeing those pictures wearing two different sets of glasses. You are trying to find minor evidences of fractures, while I am seeing a thick sequence of strata that are tightly folded every which way, and in ways that are unexplainable in my view, other than that they were non-lithified at the time of deformation. Ironically, the more I have looked into this, I have found the smaller scale fluid features to be even harder to explain with your standard view, as it is hard to see how a major fault could induce small scale fluid features like we see.

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    • Hello Nicholas, thanks for following up. You’ve obviously posted quite a bit more here than I could easily interact with, so I hope you don’t mind if I slowly get back to you on individual comments (which I’ve now read) whenever I get a break from work.

      First, regarding the images you linked: a couple of these, as you noted, exhibit metamorphic folding features, so they are not immediately relevant to this discussion. These metamorphic features do form under truly ductile flow at sufficiently high pressure/temperature, which explains why (e.g. in the third photo) metamorphic bands actually cut through the original sedimentary bedding. However, it might be pointed out 1) that such metamorphic banding could not form if the sedimentary rock were still unlithified, straining credulity of the young-Earth timeline, and 2) that such banding in itself could not occur in a matter of thousands of years due to the atomic-level dislocation and creep processes involved (see the figures in this article for a brief description: http://www.oldearth.org/plasticdeformation.htm).

      As to the remaining photos, all of them make my point quite well, since brittle deformation fractures, associated with folding of lithified sedimentary rock, are clearly visible. These fractures are typically near-perpendicular to the bedding direction.

      “I think you are getting some chronology out of order, as if we all had your own theory in mind which depends on these tiny cracks.”

      This is not my theory, but a common teaching in any class on structural geology. Therefore, it will be found in any basic textbook on structural geology (I used this one: http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Structure-Introduction-Structural-Tectonics/dp/039392467X/), or in this professional paper (http://co2.eco.coocan.jp/ref/70ISRM2.pdf), or monograph treatments on rock deformation like this one (https://books.google.com/books?id=tOwFxfuxNW0C).

      Not expecting everyone to have these on hand, however, I cited the practical application of this knowledge in the oil industry. If it were not for ubiquitous brittle deformation in folded sedimentary rock (esp. microfractures), then we could not so easily pump oil out of the ground. The success of the oil industry itself is testament to my generalizations about fractures in sedimentary rock.

      “When these creationists have spoken of ‘no fractures,’ it is plain and evident that they were referring to fractures that match the severity of the folding we see, which would thus be very extreme fractures!”

      I see your point here, but the problem is that you are hypothesizing the existence of data that does not follow from the theory. The kind of fractures to which you refer simply should not exist if lithified strata were folded slowly, no matter how large and tight the fold! It only shows up if the rocks are folded abruptly, in which case—as I noted in the article—you end up with megabreccias. Megabreccias are known in the rock record and are interpreted to represent fast folding of lithified rock. Since they do require the rock to be lithified prior to deformation, however, they again make my point that Flood geology fails to explain much of the geologic column (there is no time, during the Flood, to lithify mass bodies of sediment).

      “So again: you yourself are now bringing in your own hypothesis that makes much ado about even microscopic cracks, while at the same time scolding and even impugning creationists who have spoken of ‘no fractures,’ as if they should have in retrospect addressed your own theory. I suspect you did this unconsciously, but it’s an illogical expectation nonetheless.”

      Yes, I do expect them to have addressed the most common and well known explanation for sedimentary deformation, since they too earned Ph.D.’s in geology and would have been exposed to these ideas even during their undergraduate coursework.

      “Third, I would bet Andrew Snelling would be thrilled to have the time to do an in-depth research on, for instance, these folds in the Tapeats Sandstone.”

      I highly doubt this. It would take 5 minutes to collect and prepare the samples for thin-section analysis, about 1 month and $10/sample to get a thin sections made (if using a commercial lab), and about 10 minutes to identify microstructures (or lack thereof) and take pictures on a petrographic scope. The fact that he has not done this tells me that he has little interest in trying to convince geologists that understand rock deformation. His over simplified article series are catered, unfortunately, to those who will never study rock deformation in detail.

      “Frivolous accusations like this do not encourage further dialogue. Even so, I appreciate honest challenges, especially from intelligent geologists such as yourself.”

      Please forgive my tone, but I did not mean these as frivolous accusations. Snelling’s aim is to convince his readership (lay or not) that the bulk of sedimentary strata show evidence of being folded while still unlithified, contrary to everything that’s been published on the topic. If Snelling or anyone else were to provide the basic and easily accessible data to back up these claims, I would happily recant my accusation and give him credit. But from my perspective (knowing what Snelling knows about structural geology), I sincerely believe that his choice of photos intentionally omitted the key evidence against his case.

      “You say your first geology book was Steve Austin’s Grand Canyon book, I have that as well and it is excellent. But I wonder how much fellowship you had with those with like Christian/biblical convictions?”

      I’ve met Steve Austin personally and I think he’s a great guy. By far, he’s my favorite of the Flood geology school, and I would have loved the opportunity to work with him. He’s actually a very competent geologist, especially when Young-Earth ideas don’t hamper his work (e.g. his ongoing research in paleoseismology, part of which has been published, in the Dead Sea region).

      Growing up (teenage years), I was surrounded by like-minded creationists, many of whom were well educated. I also felt very comfortable conversing with those who did not share my opinions on science. College for me was not a gauntlet, in the sense that you portray, and it certainly was not ‘entrenched’ in some sort of evolutionary worldview (quite the contrary, it’s one of the more conservative student/faculty bodies in the country). The experience was precisely as described: I gave Flood geology a fair chance as I studied the rocks even in my own back yard, but had to admit that it failed miserably in every case. I don’t agree, however, that I abandoned a biblical view of earth history; if anything, I finally gained one. 😉

      “With regard to your picture here, first of all, the pinching and thinning of strata as they fold, as that graphic shows (and as many real examples show) where at the tightest angle they thin out extremely thin compared to their original depth, is powerful testimony to these layers having been in a ductile and fluid state, which shows they were unlithified.”

      What this modeled graphic shows is the propagation of brittle fractures (not ductile/fluid) in lithified strata, hence the fractures form perpendicular to bedding. Ductile deformation or soft-sediment deformation could not produce such a pattern, as laboratory experiment and physical modeling have thoroughly shown. Not even the post-folding history of the rock to which you allude would produce this pattern (which instead would be stochastic or dependent on the stress direction of the earthquake, *not* the direction of bedding), and so I remain comfortable using it to demonstrate my point.

      “Can lithified strata act like they are fluid and bend into incredible arcs and hair pin structures without busting at those tight flex points?”

      Again, yes, they can. I’ve described briefly the mechanism by which this takes place, but I cannot understand why you are so resistant to the experimental data which support it. Why do you suppose that microfractures, which slowly release the strain on the rock and prevent rupturing/bursting, could not accomplish this? Keep in mind, these rocks are not being bent episodically, but through the slow accumulation of strain (which is just strong enough to allow individual grains to reorganize with the help of fluids moving through them, dissolving cement, etc.). Small-scale fractures are abundantly visible in every photo that you linked, proving my point, but still you seem to think they are absent? Perhaps your analogy of us having two sets of glasses is appropriate!

      I think the best resolution would be a joint field trip, where we could all examine the rocks in person, using whatever techniques we want. What do you say? 🙂

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  2. — PART 2 —

    JB: [When sedimentary rocks are folded slowly under pressure—not metamorphic pressures, just enough to confine the rock layers—it is possible for limestone, sandstone, and shale to deform without breaking up as you describe. This has been known experimentally at least since the late 1950’s (Handin and Hager, 1957; 1958) and remains valid today.]

    A different picture is painted by Austin and Morris from attempts to do just that: “Contrary to the statements of many uniformitarians, creep in brittle rock cannot continue indefinitely without fracture.” The fuller citation (p. 6):

    Implications of Creep Of special importance is the tension developed in strata of Figure 3 over 180° of folding and thinning
    of beds, all with no fracture. Could this deformation be the time-dependent result of constant loading (that is, creep)? Contrary to the statements of many uniformitarians, creep in brittle rock cannot continue indefinitely without fracture. The curve shown in Figure 4 is known as a complete stress strain curve, developed by servo-controlled stress strain experiments which do not allow the material to rupture. These tests consist frequently of many thousands of cycles over years of real time, and are thought to yield ultimate creep limits…

    JB: [This is not true, unless the fold was created relatively swiftly … When sedimentary rocks are folded slowly under pressure…]

    Of course the evolutionary view you adhere to would sink without this assumption of super slow and super gradual mountain uplift (orogeny), which occurred very recently, respectively, in your model, and correspondingly late in the flood in ours. This gets into a different topic, but I find it incredible to look at upturned formations like this massive 90 degree vertical upturn of the Tapeats sandstone (a drape fold, another evidence of fluidity it seems to me) and layers above to represent some incredibly slow and gradual tectonic process! I understand that this was part of the uplift of the Colorado plateau, and more locally in this case to the East Kaibab Monocline. Even if we were going to have this overall uplift occur slowly, I still cannot see how the energy releases would not come in bursts of tectonic energy, just like they do in earthquakes and fault slips today (stress builds over time due to friction at the fault; slippage occurs when the stress builds enough to finally overcome the friction, but by then you have an excess amount of energy that releases).

    img (src)

    [Cements can crack or dissolve, allowing individual grains to shift around as though the rock were unlithified.]

    About your theory, I am not a geologist, and experts in a given field of study are the ones equipped to provide such feedback. With that said, with the amount of ‘de-cementing’ you are calling for, all driven by water flow, it seems to me that the biggest outcome would simply be eroded structures. Which, by the way, is a massive problem for you guys (also).Regardless, let’s just assume you might be able to solve some formations this way, I seriously doubt this can apply to the extreme cases we have. Neither does this address the many features we see that look like the strata were quite fluid in nature. For instance, how do strata pinch and squeeze like toothpaste in many cases, becoming multiple times thicker at the folds at one point, and pinching out very narrowly at an opposite point (where multiple strata do the same one on top of the other)? For your theory to work, you are going to need to essentially make the strata quite thoroughly unlithified in the end. Also, I have seen many incredibly exquisite features that simply are impossible to be explained by a large scale fault causing folding. Can you write a letter (on 8×11 paper) with a pen whose head is 100 meters across? So too, can you cause exquisite flow features only meters or even inches across in multiple subsequent strata layers, with a fault that is miles long and that is located miles below? The obvious answer is no, whereas the features make perfect sense if these strata were plastic and fluid in nature at the time of tectonic upheaval. Layer after layer will cut on a dime, either at 90 degree angles, or in very sharp but still rounded turns. Other times multiple layers will all have ‘vibrations’ in them (that link from Parry Sound Ontario is one of my favourites, go in high detail and look closely at all kinds of exquisite flow features).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. — PART 3 (Split Mountain) —

    JB: [I’m afraid Snelling’s treatment of sedimentary deformation is equally misleading. For one, the very existence of a boulder breccia (Figs. 1 & 2, below) contradicts the Flood geology portrait, because it implies that older rocks had to be completely lithified and were slowly eroded into angular boulders, before accumulating in the deposit at Split Mountain. Yet the underlying sandstones remained unlithified, according to Snelling?]

    First of all, you messed up. This was Steve Austin and John Morris’ paper, not Snelling’s.

    Second of all, right after making an accusatory claim that “Snelling’s treatment of sedimentary deformation is equally misleading“, you then go on to, I must say, complain, about something that should rather have been categorized: “A complete side issue that never came up in the paper that might contradict the flood in general …”! I don’t want to make my own accusation, but was this a convenient excuse to ignore the main content of the paper? Which was an illustration and analysis of some insane ‘crazy-cline’ deformations, sometimes 180 degree overturns within only 15 meters, or mushrooming up of strata up into brecia layers above (clearly showing the layers were unlithified still), etc… All of this material you almost completely sidestep.

    As for your point: I still am having troubles interpreting what you were talking about, but after reading it over many times, I wonder if you are mistakenly mixing the flood scenario Austin and Morris obviously work from with a uniformitarian scenario, in which, since in your scenario the mountain would already have been largely formed at this time, the only possible source of a large breccia deposit on top would be from the sedimentary layers at the top being reworked over lots of time? Or are you saying there could be no sources for breccia flows during the flood?

    [So, episodically formed tight folds in a water-saturated, weakly cemented sandstone offer no challenge to the conventional geological age of these rocks.]

    This is the only sentence in your critique that deals with the heart of the paper. And yet here, you ignore the paper’s claims, while stating a solution that completely ignores the difficulties the paper raised, as well as the fact that they already addressed this possible answer:

    [Therefore, Drs. DeVilbiss and Young would be obliged to admit that temperatures approaching 200 °C and pressures of 15,000 psi were sustained by clastic and carbonate sediments for millions of years without cementation!]

    Before leaving this paper, let’s address the 7 points that Austin and Morris list as Evidence for Soft Sediment Deformation of Split Mountain. This is important, because as you can see, they do not focus on the simple question ‘to fracture or not to fracture.’ Rather, there are many evidences that point to soft sediment deformation, which was the point I was getting at all along:

    1. Non-transference of stress. The beds were insufficiently rigid to transfer the stress of impact any great distance away from the fault. The major deformation is restricted to the 30 feet nearest the fault.
    2. Different directions of folding. The boulder breccia rapidly filled an irregular hole, causing no unified stress pattern. The surrounding beds deformed in an irregular sense. The rock material was not sufficiently strong to allow a unified stress field to develop.

    3. Degree of folding. Rock is notoriously weak in tension, and above the neutral axis, all folded material is in tension. The rocks here have been folded as much as 180° within 15 feet. Tension would have developed sufficient to cause fracture had the rock been in an elastic phase.

    4. Thickening and thinning. As the beds folded, they flowed rather than fractured. In places, individual beds are now twice as thick as they were originally and in other places, they nearly pinch out. Figure 3 shows considerable thickening of beds in the axis of the fold.

    5. Fracturing as space problem. The rupture of beds which did take place was not generally in areas where excessive stress was expected. Rather, it appears the material fractured due to space requirements. In places, drag folding occurred along these rupture zones.

    6. Injected masses. Above the main area of folding, masses of sandstone are incorporated into the slumped boulder breccia (zone C in Figures 1 and 2). Bedding remains recognizable, and is severely folded into mushroom shapes. This material was deformed as it was trapped in the falling boulder breccia, and folded through a 270° arc during slumping.

    7. Sheared and mixed zones below overhanging fault. The matrix of the boulder breccia could not allow such intense reorganization if it was lithified at the time of faulting. Zones D and E were plastic when sheared.

    On #6 (injected mushrooming masses into overlaying layers), reminds me of:

    img (src)

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  4. — PART 4 (Silvestru) —

    [In this case, Dr. Silvestru demonstrates for us that he understands structural geology rather poorly (or is intent on misrepresenting it). In his first point, he asks rhetorically why nobody has tried to deform sedimentary rocks experimentally, despite that such experiments (I linked a couple above) have been ongoing since the 1950’s!]

    This may be partially true, and partially not. Perhaps Emil forgot or wasn’t aware of these experiments. On the other hand, as cited from the Austin and Morris sources above, such rock bending has a very clear limit (“creep in brittle rock cannot continue indefinitely without fracture,” according to those year-long experiments). The context makes it clear that Emil had in mind a possible evolutionary solution that invokes greater pressure / temperature to overcome the brittleness of lithified rock/strata (given of course in very many contexts, we really are looking at layers that would be very deeply buried at the time of folding, even if given areas today are now exposed). And in that case, the rest of his comments make sense: If one could indeed truly plasticize solid lithified rock layers, to allow them to do crazy folding as if they are almost fluid in many cases, well, we would in that case expect the layers to show evidence of metamorphism (and of course we have do have cases of metamorphism, the question is about these many others cases where no metamorphism occurred despite the severe folding). I think this is still a very valid point. How can so many examples of tremendous deformation not display signs of metamorphic transformation?

    [In the second point, he assumes falsely that metamorphic conditions should have been reached locally within formations like the Old Red Sandstone (e.g. at the apex of folds). … Besides, temperatures at the apex of the fold would not be significantly higher than for the rest of the rock, because strain is relieved through millions of microfractures]

    I understand you are working from this ‘little cracks’ theory, but as I said above, it is at best a mis-sight on your behalf to expect everyone to always have your little theory in mind (if they’ve even heard of it). That’s what you are doing when you scold Emil here, as you did earlier towards a 1986 article! I think this is an honest mistake on your part, but you might want to keep things straightened out in terms of chronology (not to mention: prominence of a given theory). Emil was thinking of a solution that relied on deep burial and thus on lots more pressure and temperature as a way to solve the problem for evolutionists, but then pointing out a flaw for that given solution in cases where no metamorphism is found.

    [But the conversion of sandstone to quartzite depends on more than temperature/pressure (it depends also on water moving through the rock).]

    This is a 101 basic fundamental of geology, I don’t think it’s very charitable to question if an experienced veteran like Emil doesn’t know this. Emil is in fact on the record actually on the extreme side of seeing volatiles / hydrothermal solutions as more often than not being the culprit behind metamorphic transformation (see those few minutes).

    [As for the last point, it seems the owner of the photo to which Dr. Silvestru referred has already responded, and I would have little to add.]

    Too bad, because this was a very good point, and it forms quite a climax to all we have been talking about. But let me preface this with the fact that much more information is needed on this specific case before running too far with it (even verifying: is this really a tree even, which Stuby asserted it was, but a lot more information is needed). I’m not even sure what I’m seeing from the picture. But with that caution put up front:

    This individual (geologist James Stuby) started with a different starting assumption than did Emil: that the tree was originally standing up, while Emil assumed it was a fallen tree (in the evolutionary scenario that is; in a flood scenario, we would postulate this tree was probably a floating log, that then sank down in the waters into soft sediment, all of which later hardened). But it makes little difference. In either case (for the evolutionary scenario), you have probably lithified strata that bent upwards, though apparently like soft putty, into an anticline, but then curiously, with a tree embedded within the strata, so that in the end, once the anticline was fully formed, the fossilized tree was still standing upright, rather than bent to the side like you would expect (though better: broken to pieces due to the deformation, along with the strata themselves if they had already been lithified).

    The explanation Stuby gives works only for a very special scenario … for a stack of cards! “… which you then stack with the toothpick through the holes. You bend the stack to imitate an anticline and the cards all move slightly relative to one another on account of the folding” … but in the real scenario, the strata are not like cards that all slide over one another. Even if the strata were all dislodged and slipping one over another (which hey, that sounds like catastrophic tectonic scenarios once again to me, not gentle millimeter movement per century), they certainly wouldn’t conspire to make a tree in their midst stay upright. Worse, we know what would really happen: just as rocks that bend greatly should actually just snap and fracture and break apart, so too, a fossilized tree cemented in their midst should also just snap and fracture apart with such “rock folding”!

    Sincerely (and Happy New Year),
    Nicholas Petersen

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  5. Pingback: Evidences for a Young Earth | Letters to Creationists·

  6. The best argument against Snelling is simple, no need for technical lengthy discussion the ordinary YEC will not understand. He claimed the canyon sediments were deposited by Noah’s flood, soft and unconsolidated so they are bent or folded without fracturing. Look at panoramic views of the Grand Canyon from Google images, do you see any folds? Nada. If he his right, folds should be all over the place. Now look at pictures close enough to the outcrops, there are always fractures perpendicular to the bedding. In published maps I counted at least ten fifty to 200 km long faults. Even those two photographs of folded outcrops in Snelling’s report at AIG show fractures. Therefore, in the Grand Canyon, there is more faulting and fracturing than folding. Snelling is lying.

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