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Out-of-order strata occur at the Lewis Overthrust (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Out-of-order strata occur at the Lewis Overthrust (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CD102.1:

At the Lewis Overthrust in Alberta and Montana, Precambrian limestone rests on top of Cretaceous shales, which conventionally are dated much later. The evidence, and common sense, do not support the explanation that the discontinuity is caused by a thrust fault.

Source: Price, George McCready, 1913. The Fundamentals of Geology. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Assoc., pp. 7-8, 86-101.

Whitcomb, John C. Jr. and Henry M. Morris, 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., pp. 185-195.


CreationWiki response:

It needs to be noted that both of the sources are more than 40 years old, so they are both likely to have some out of date information.

Also, Talk.Origins rebuttal of the claim completely ignores Burdick's CRSQ report. He concluded that the Lewis Overthrust wasn't a real overthrust because of a utter lack of mylonite, breccia, and slickensides.

Burdick "Additional Notes Concerning The Lewis Thrust-Fault" CRSQ Volume 11, Number 1 June, 1974.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Contrary to the claim, geologists do find convincing evidence of a thrust fault between the strata [Strahler 1987, chap. 40]. This is true even of Young Earth Creationists with geology training. For example, Kurt Wise said,
  • A close examination of the contact between the Cretaceous and Precambrian rocks leaves no doubt that the contact is a fault contact. [Wise 1986, 136]
Whitcomb and Morris refer to the contact line as a fault line on page 187. The real question is whether or not there is evidence of sufficient motion to justify uniformitarian claims. It turns out that at least in some locations the evidence is lacking.
2. The strata on either side of the discontinuity are well ordered and have the order one would expect from a thrust fault.

So what? There are other locations where this is not the case. The Lewis Overthrust could have resulted from one sediment flow settling over another.

3. The photo in The Genesis Flood showing the "Lewis Overthrust contact line" (Fig. 17, pg. 190) is not really a photo of the contact line, but of rocks 200 feet above it. The photographs which Whitcomb and Morris used were taken by Walter Lammerts, a botanist and geneticist, on his vacation. [Numbers 1992, 216-219]

What is the basis for the claim about that the image (Fig. 17, pg. 190) is 200 feet above the contact line? Whitcomb and Morris were in personal contact with Lammerts, while Talk Origins is basing their claim on at least third party information.

4. Whitcomb and Morris [1961, 185-195] quote a description of the Lewis Overthrust out of context to give the impression that rocks along the fault are undisturbed. They quote Ross and Rezak [1959],
  • Most visitors, especially those who stay on the roads, get the impression that the Belt strata are undisturbed and lie almost as flat today as they did when deposited in the sea which vanished so many million years ago.
The quote continues:
  • Actually, they are folded, and in certain zones they are intensely so. From points on and near the trails in the park it is possible to observe places where the beds of the Belt series, as revealed in outcrops on ridges, cliffs, and canyon walls, are folded and crumpled almost as intricately as the soft younger strata in the mountains south of the park and in the Great Plains adjoining the park to the east.
Talk Origins is misrepresenting Whitcomb and Morris. They clearly refer to the folding but it is in a different location from the area under discussion. The quote is in a footnote and they quote only the portion relevant to the area under discussion. The portion added by Talk Origins is clearly referring to a different location than the part used by Whitcomb and Morris. They did not quote out of context, but simply used the part that was relevant to the location under discussion.
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