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Flood geology

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Geologic map of North America identifying the exposed layers of the geological column

Flood geology is the field of geology that deals with the effects of catastrophic flooding, and how such events have shaped geologic formations. Creation geology is based on the assumption that the Biblical flood described in the book of Genesis was a real and historical event of global magnitude, and is therefore also known as flood geology. Creation geologists seek primarily to show that Earth's geologic features are best interpreted within the scope of this Biblical cataclysm; including sedimentary strata, fossilization, fossil fuels, submarine canyons, plate tectonics, salt domes and frozen mammoths.

Flood geology is a historical science that is premised on catastrophism and the rejection of uniformitarianism. Creation geologists develop models based upon the historicity of the global flood, which are testable and falsifiable. Interestingly, the difference between flood models and the interpretations of naturalistic geologists is largely just one of intensity. All geologists today accept the view that allows for major catastrophes interspersed among large time periods of near stasis. In contrast, Creation model put a series of closely related cataclysmic events into a short period of time. Flood geologists explain strata with reference to catastrophes like the eruption of Mount St. Helens, which carved out enormous canyons and laid down large amounts of rock strata within the space of a single day.

Creation geologists reject radiometric dating because the idea of deep time (millions and billions of years) is required for the dates of rock layers to be accepted as real. Since the flood and the flood layers are known in creationism to be less than 5000 years old, computed old dates are completely irrelevant to any flood model.


From the Grand Canyon, a transported quartzite block in Cambrian sedimentary strata, identical to quartzite found in the Precambrian layer hundreds of feet below, which flood geologists argue most likely came to rest there by means of large-scale flowing water. Note how the sediments flow smoothly around the upper left corner of the block.

If the global flood actually occurred, then it would have had a radical effect on geology, and traces of that flood would be observable today, making flood models falsifiable.

80% of the Earth's crust is covered by sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rocks are formed by deposition by water, wind or ice, precipitation from solution, and /or growth in position by organic processes (e.g., carbonate reefs). Layered rock strata are understood to have formed as suspended sediments settled out of moving water. Some flood geologists have proposed that a global flood is the most reasonable explanation for the means by which sedimentary layers came to cover so much of the continents.

Strata formation

Rapid deposition by mudflow

Flood geologists believe that rock strata are best understood as being rapidly deposited during the Global flood. They document their position with observations made at catastrophic events such as the eruption of the Mt. St. Helens volcano. During the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, stratified layers up to 400 feet thick formed as a result of landslides, pyroclastic flows, mudflows, etc. Fine laminae from only a millimeter thick to more than a meter high formed in just a few seconds each. A deposit more than 25 feet in thickness, and containing upwards of 100 thin layers accumulated in just one day on June 12, 1980. Given the total inability of radiometric dating to date rock strata (see radiometric dating problems), documented instances such as Mt. St. Helens to support a catastrophic interpretation of rock strata, and the inability of uniformitarianism to explain fossilization (as discussed below), flood geologists have concluded that rock strata are best interpreted as having been laid down rapidly in a massive catastrophe such as the Global flood of Noah.


A plume of sandstone, identical to a layer of sandstone several hundred feet below the surface, which flood geologists argue is most reasonably explained by liquefaction during the flood compression event, cementing, and subsequent erosion.

Liquefaction, a phenomenon commonly seen in quicksand and earthquakes, is the process by which water pressing up from underneath sand or soil converts the sand into a suspension. Some flood geologists have argued that during a global flood, liquefaction would have occurred on a massive scale. They argue that in a global flood scenario, the tides would be unhindered by continents, creating enormous waves circling the globe. This, in concert with tsunamis from underwater earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and landslides, would cause wave loading: alternating periods of high and low downward pressure on subterranean water. The resulting periods of liquefaction and non-liquefaction would cause the sediments to layer into strata. Geological action while the sediments were still liquefied would cause the strata to bend smoothly in places, while earthquakes would cause radical discontinuities in others.

These flood geologists argue that massive liquefaction can explain phenomena such as transported blocks, sand plumes, coal and limestone deposits, the near total purity of the 500,000 sq. mile St. Peter Sandstone, smooth bending rock strata, and aquifers, and which remain inadequately explained by mainstream geology.[1]

In contrast, recent plume experiments by creationist geologists at Creation Evidence Museum at Glen Rose, Texas, have shown that moving water always creates sedimentary layering and liquefaction always destroys layering. Given the vast amount of sedimentary layers around the world, liquefaction is argued to have played a very minor part in the geologic record. (See the video below.)


Sigmoidal shaped crossbed forms, commonly found in sandstone formations, are usually attributed to aeolian desert "sand dune" conditions. The high angle of the cross bedding is consistent with sub-aerial sand dunes. However, heavily loaded, high energy water currents flowing into ponded water also deposit high angle subaqueous sigmoidal cross beds. The size of the sigmoidal cross beds is determined by a combination of water depth and velocity.[2] The Coconino and Navajo sandstones from Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico are consistent with formation beneath floodwaters.

Canyon formation

Submarine canyons

As the continents divided and the flood subsided, the water would flow into the new low-lying areas, which would fill to become seas, leaving the sediments to dry out of their liquefied state. The runoff during this period predicts the creation of extensive submarine canyon extensions to rivers, as the level of the sea would be much lower during this time, so that the rivers would remain rivers far out into today's "seas." Such extensions are found in the Congo, Amazon, Ganges, and Hudson rivers. They extend for thousands of miles underwater, thousands of feet under the sea; they are as deep as the Grand Canyon in places, and although not well understood by the mainstream scientific community, they are generally understood to have developed when sea-levels were significantly lower than today. Flood geologists argue that such submarine canyon extensions were formed as the floodwaters receded from the continents.

Land canyons

Flood geologists also conclude that land canyons such as the Grand Canyon were most likely formed during catastrophic hot mud slides such as those observed during the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. One particular hot mud slide at Mt. St. Helens carved a canyon 140 ft. deep and 17 miles long in a single day. Only a thin creek remains at the bottom of the canyon today, which would likely be interpreted as having carved the canyon "over millions of years," if it were not known first-hand that the canyon was carved in a single day.

Loess formation

Loess is a geologic term that refers to deposits of silt (sediment with particles 2-64 microns in diameter) that have been laid down by wind action (aeolian activity to geologists). As Genesis records:

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Genesis 8:1 (NASB)

As the wind blew and the flood waters receded, the mountain tops would have been the first to be exposed. The hydrologically sorted sediments from the land areas first exposed would then be carried by the wind and deposited elsewhere. We would thus expect loess deposits to be associated with high altitudes as we find in the Loess Plateau, China.

Loess Plateau in mainland China.

The loess in China is not very far away from the Tibetan plateau[3], which is known as the 'roof of the world'. The Ordos Desert, the Loess Plateau's current source of sediments, is just north the Loess Plateau, however the Tibetan plateau could have been an earlier source of sediments. While the Loess Plateau is 300 m thick, the deposits consist of different types of material, and there is red clay underlying the upper layers of loess. While the upper layers (162.5 m[4]) do show evidence of being deposited by wind,[5] the underlying red clay does not show such a pattern, suggesting the possibility that the red clay may be flood deposits while the loess is post-flood, with most of it deposited during the early post-flood period by massive post-flood sand storms.


The flood provided an excellent environment for the required quick burial of fossils. Preservation of complete animal or plant remains requires quick burial by sediments. Dead animals or plants which are not buried quickly decompose or are eaten before they can become preserved. Fossils are often found buried in hundreds of feet of solid, unbroken rock strata. Flood geologists infer that those rock strata were laid down in a relatively quick period, burying the organisms before they had time to decompose.

Flood geologists point to the existence of large oil deposits as the result of the accumulation of large amounts of dead plant and animal matter during the flood which were subsequently compressed below the surface. They argue that there is no evidence of fossil fuels being formed today, or any clear mechanism for how it could occur without catastrophe. They argue that the flood provides the necessary catastrophe.

Fossil pattern mechanisms

A major aspect of flood geology is attempting to describe and explain the distribution of fossils throughout the rock strata. Because the uniformitarian model dismisses outright any fossils which conflict with their model,[6] no quantification of such fossils is possible. Creationists have proposed numerous mechanisms able to produce fossil patterns during flood conditions. See flood mechanics for further explanation of this.

Ecological zonation

Organisms living in the same habitat would tend to get buried in similar rock at similar depths. Those in the same area and habitat would tend to be found in the same rock, while those near by in a different habitat would tend to be found in different rock. Also organisms living on the bottom of a body of water would tend to be found lower than those living on hills on land, with shore dwellers being in the middle.

Hydrological sorting

The remains of animals, particularly invertebrates, would tend to sort like any other form in moving water. Buoyancy, size and shape would all be factors. Buoyancy is one factor that cannot be determined from fossils.


Hydrological sorting in flowing water results in stratification moving horizontally as seen above rather than vertically. A typical cross section of such deposits is the same as is seen in the strata seen in rocks.[7][8]

Differential Escape

More mobile and faster organisms would tend to seek higher ground.[7] This separates organisms based on motility and at least in part intelligence. This would tend to separate men from trilobites, amphibians, and dinosaurs.

Biogeographic zonation

Animals which lived in the same area would tend to be found together. Those from other parts of the world would not be found with them. For example if a global flood occurred today, one would not expect to find elephants and opossums buried together.

Tectonic activity

By itself tectonic activity would not affect fossil order. But it could have pushed some strata over others before the sediment hardened. There is evidence of this at the Ghadames Basin.

Puzzling fossils explained

Layered rock

This is a chip of concrete with visible layers, evident by edge chipping.

Standard concrete can provide a good model for how layered rock has formed, such as those of the Green River Formation. The picture at right shows a slab taken after a concrete spill occurred. Several layers of concrete formed as a result of the spill, which resemble the layers observed in slabs from Green River Formation.

Slab from the Green River Formation

The image at left is a fossil fish in a slab from the Green River Formation, which has multiple visible layers. Such specimens are often found as polystrate fossils, passing through many layers. Furthermore this fish has been flattened indicating that it was exposed to significant pressure before it was fossilized. These conditions strongly argue in favor of catastrophic burial.

Same type of edge chipping

The same type of edge chipping can be seen in the slab as in the concrete. This strongly suggests that the Green River Formation resulted from liquefied material resembling concrete, such as massive mud slides. This may have been a post flood lake that had large mud slides dumped into it, rather than the annual deposits claimed by evolutionists. The mudslides could have been from the break up of other large post flood lakes.

Mud Cracks

Desiccation Cracks in Concrete
Subsurface Desiccation Cracks in Concrete
Desiccation cracks are usually formed by drying mud. Since such cracks usually form only at the surface, subsurface desiccation cracks have been used as a claim against flood geology. However, at the concrete spill mentioned above dried desiccation cracks formed in concrete, which closely resemble those found in the fossil record. Interestingly subsurface cracks were also found to have formed in drying concrete as shown in the image at left.
Click on image to see similar cracks in a natural rock.

This illustrates a mechanism for the formation of dessication cracks following liquefaction. It is also a clear example of how fossil subsurface "mud" cracks as it dries. The cracks formed in the lower layer without it being on the surface.

Fossil burrows

The first assumption is that fossil burrows are actually burrows rather than some other types of structures. This assertion is moot.

The other assumption is that fossil burrows are dwellings but there is evidence suggesting that they are attempted escape routes of buried organisms. If a burrowing organism is suddenly buried it won't accept death passively. It will try to dig its way out. Fossil burrows are consistent with this.[9]

Fossil footprints

There are at least five possible explanations for fossil animal tracks. It needs to be noted that none of these are mutually exclusive and none explain all fossil tracks, but together they seem to do a good job of explaining them all.

  • Misinterpretations are features in rocks such as air bubbles, that happen to cause a track like pattern. These probably account for only a small portion of fossil tracks and then only those attributed to small animals.
  • Post-flood disasters are cases where tracks are covered by sediment layers that were laid down by disasters that followed the flood.
  • Post-flood tracks in soft flood sediment include cases in which the tracks were made post flood on exposed sediment, that had not yet hardened into rock. It could also occur in places where small pieces of rock came loose and were liquefied by rain or another source of water into a concrete type mixture, that hardened after an animal crossed it. This second type would be found separate from the main formation, but would be of the same type of rock.
  • Small buried animal trapped in an air bubble is when an animal is caught in an air bubble and was able to move some before it died.
  • Early flood tracks are footprints that were made while their habitats were being buried. Many animals would not have been killed instantly, but could have survived much of the early part of the flood. During the early stages tides and other fluctuations in water levels would expose portions of sediment. Animals would tend to seek exposed land. Those that made it to such places would leave tracks. In places where the water came and went several times, the same animal could have left several layers of tracks.

Some of the observations which support this hypothesis are:

  1. Dinosaur tracks[10] at Utah and Colorado are associated with coal mines, which suggest that the tracks were made while their forests were in the process of being buried.
  2. McKee and later researchers[11] discovered that the Coconino sandstone below the footprints of the Hermit Trail consisted of coarser grains, while finer grains were above these footprints. This is expected from hydrologic sorting.
  3. Gilmore (1927)[12] pointed out that of the hundreds of trackways that have been observed, almost all of them are going up the slopes of the cross bedded layers. This is expected from animals seeking higher ground.[13]

High-altitude marine sediments

Marine sediments[14] have been found on top of Mount Everest, implying that the flood covered the highest mountains, though this does not imply that Everest was at its current height at the beginning of the flood, if it existed at all.


Where Charles Darwin Went Wrong - Steve Austin discusses flood geology formations on the Santa Cruz River in Southern Argentina, which were misinterpreted by Charles Darwin as evidence for an old Earth.

Steve Austin at the Seattle Creation Conference

Experiments in sedimentation at the Creation Evidence Museum, Glen Rose, TX. Pay special attention to the last two minutes of this presentation.


  1. Brown, Walt. "Liquefaction: Testing the Theories." In: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, on-line ed., 2008. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  2. Flood, P.G., 1985, "Origin of large-scale crossbeds in the late Permian coal measures of the Sydney and Bowen Basins, Eastern Australia", International Journal of Coal Geology, Vol. 5, pp 231-245
  3. Wittke JH. "Geography of the Tibetan Plateau." From "Tibet: a Virtual Field Trip," Northern Arizona University, March 27, 2006. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  4. Sun D, Shaw J, An Zhisneng, et al. "Magnetostratigraphy and paleoclimatic interpretation of a continuous 7.2Ma Late Cenozoic eolian sediments from the Chinese Loess Plateau." American Geophysics Union, 1997. Accessed October 17, 2008
  5. Tenenbaum D. "Loess is more." The Why Files, March 14, 2002. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  6. Woodmorappe J. "Anomalously Occurring Fossils". Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 18, March, 1982.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Segraves, Kelly L. "A New Set of Questions." In The Great Dinosaur Mistake, online ed. The Parent Company, 2003, p. 26. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  8. "The Cataclysm." Creation Resource Sheet, n.d. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  9. Reed JK and Woodmorappe J. "Surface and Subsurface Errors in Anti-Creationist Geology." CRSQ 39(1), June 2002. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  10. Lockley MG and Jennings C. "Dinosaur Tracksites of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah: Late Cretaceous Coal Mine Tracks." Paleontology and Geology of the Dinosaur Triangle, Averett WR, ed. Museum of Western Colorado, 1987. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  11. Santucci VL. "Stratigraphic Distribution of Tetrapod and Invertebrate Ichnofossils in the Permian Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon National Park and Adjacent Areas, Northern Arizona." Abstracts with Programs, Seattle Annual Meeting, Geological Society of America, September 6, 2003, p. 498. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  12. Brand, LR. "Footprints in the Grand Canyon." Origins 5(2):64-82, 1978. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  13. Oard M. "In the Footsteps of Giants." Creation 25(2):10-12, March 2003. Accessed October 17, 2008.
  14. Fry C. "Everest Rock Map Published." BBC, May 23, 2003. Accessed October 17, 2008.

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See Also