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#1 AFJ

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 08:01 AM

I find it very interesting how a discovery in the rock record can be "filtered" through a worldview to produce an interpretation of a "forensic scene". Much like a murder scene must be interpreted, and produce a story, "scenes" in the rock record produce stories. But some stories have big holes in my opinion.

Take the following article in Science Daily:
Treasure Trove Of Fossils Found In Limestone Cave link

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The scientists basically take for granted that it is a limestone cave. To use the law of superpositioning in this context would not fit the standard model at all. Mainly because there is charcoal mixed within the silcate sediment below the limestone. This indicates burning wood being buried under the limestone-- which is kind of inconvenient for them to explain. Given this limestone supposedly formed in a calm sea over millions of years.

So then, the formation is interpreted as a cave. I have some hard questions for this interpretation.

______________________________________________________________

Observations and Disclaimer:
The picture is not exhaustive in giving the answers to the following observations and questions. But I feel they warrant investigation BEFORE PUBLISHING A SCIENTIFIC CONCLUSION.


1. Repeated slurry transports? The charcoal/ silicate sediment is layered. By gradualist interpretation, this would indicate many depositions. Was there a continuous supply of trees that kept burning up and then were swept into the cave by water and sediment over millions of years?

a. Why were there repeated slurry transports with the same contents--burning tree fragments, with plants and animals over millions of years?


2. Evidence of superposition. The "cave" is completely filled to the top until it meets just under the limestone strata--with no apparent gaps. Notice the limestone layers on top--left to right you see the layering to form a syncline (downward fold) and then an anticline (up) in the center. If you look at the layers of charcoaled (sandstone?) underneath, they bend in a similar fashion.

a. Is it coincidence that the layers underneath the limestone have matching folds? Wouldn't it make more sense to use the law of superposition in this case? The charcoal/silicate layers were first and the limestone was deposited on top.

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3. "Intrusions" or some would say vugs: Probably the most convincing evidence that this is not a cave. I realize that intruisions are igneous, in case someone accuses me of ignorance. Notice the 2 nodules or vugs on top of the underneath charcoal/ sediment. They "intrude" into the bottom limestone layers. I don't see anything shiny like quartz indicative of a vug. How did this happen? Are they trying to tell us the below sediment bulldozed it's way against the hardened limestone cave ceiling, and against gravity to form the intrusions??!!!

a. Or was the sediment just super pressurized (by what mechanism) and filled a concave shape on the ceiling (no fissure or joint seen). But then you would nee a way for the pressurized air to escape wouldn't you? :mellow:


4. Where is the proof? The article says that the silicate layers are not compacted, but then why is there no evidence of erosion, like gaps or fissures--indicating water erosion through the loose sediment?

a. LIMESTONE CAVES HAVE OR HAVE HAD WATER FLOWING THROUGH THEM, IT IS NOT STAGNATE, OR IT WOULD NOT FORM THE CAVE.

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5. No stalagmites, nor stalactites. Many limestone caves have these features--where are they in the article's picture?

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Carlsbad Caverns


5. No fissures or sinkholes in the limestone above, which would have brought the sediment.


6. Why are there no modern examples of limestone caves with this kind of material being repeatedly deposited (all the way to the ceiling) in them.

A creationist paradigm would fit this much more nicely than the unrealistic gradualist story. The trees were probably burning from the volcanism that is believed to have accompanied the flood, the sediment slurry picked up burning wood, plants and animals in the current and deposited it. Note that Mt. St Helens caused a giant landslide of the side of the mountain which was covered by trees. DO you think some of these trees might have been buried while burning from the lava??

I suggest the following scenario. The limestone layers at the same level as the charcoal sediment were laid first, or were pre-exisant--and were soft. A subsequent channel was catastrophically cut through the soft layers by an outburst slurry containing burning wood embers--possibly from a mixture of volcanism and sedimentary transport (giant landslide). As the slurry settled into the channel, lime mud was deposited rapidly over it, to seal the still burning embers and cause them to undergo pyrolysis.

#2 Geode

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 07:15 PM

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I find it very interesting how worldviews can be superimposed over a find. Or perhaps a better word is the discovery is "filtered" through a worldview to produce an interpretation of a "forensic scene". Much like a murder scene must be interpreted, and produce a story, "scenes" in the rock record produce stories. But some stories have big holes in my opinion.


I read your post last night and dutifully fell asleep with my computer still on. It was late and I needed the sleep. There really is not much one can really conclude from these short reports of a geologic study. However, I think what we really are most likely finding here is an initial report of a scientific study filtered and watered down in a "news" report for laymen readers. I found nothing that would allow me to jump to the conclusion that a wordview was being imposed upon whatever was found. Actually geologic field work is akin to doing forensics, to unravel whatever the rocks will tell you. Yes, I am aware that terming the rocks as "talking" is to ascribe human characteristics to them, but in informal chatter geologists talk like that.

The scientists basically take for granted that it is a cave. To use the law of superpositioning in this context would not fit the standard model at all. Mainly because there is charcoal mixed within the silcate sediment (sand mostly). This indicates burning wood being buried under the water--because the limestone above it indicates the presence of seawater.


I'm pretty sure that there is other evidence to indicate that a cave is shown here. However, it sure looks like it could be one at first glance, with the darker sediments being found in a somewhat circular cave-like shape.

Even Steno realized that caves can create apparent exceptions to The Law of Superposition.

You are jumping to a conclusion that the sediments are mostly sand, at least if the report you link is your only source of information. It does not specify this. The darker sediments are of a shade of grey common to shales and there appear to be more massively bedded and lighter sandstone lenses within them. This sort of analysis cannot be done with any confidence as the erosional debris present in the outcrop can be confusing in such a view. One needs to go up and actually look at the rocks to really know what is going on here.

The limestone above is cited as being dated as Ordovician with the caves eroded in Pennsylvanian times. The dating of the fossils in the clastics infilling the presumed cave is mentioned, and the limestone would have been dated similarly. If you want to take issue with the dating methods, that seems beyond the scope of what we are provided. However, it is not the purpose of this news report to go into that kind of detail. Either accepting or rejecting the dating cited here without seeing the evidence from the actual study would be assuming a biased worldview. Suggesting that the limestone and clastics are of the same age would be making a conclusion through the filter of a worldview. Following independent evidence not noted in the report would not be such if done using proper science.

Your conclusion that burning wood got buried underwater as indicated by the presence of the limestone mostly certainly is not supported by what is reported, unless you filter what was written through a wordview and so as to reject the different ages for the limestone and the sediments containing charcoal as cited in the report. The clastic sediments are terrestrial by the evidence reported here and the limestone marine. But they are not related to each other either in terms of depositional environment, lithology or fossil content. At least from what we are offered here they also are not of the same age.

SO their explanation is it's a limestone cave filled to the brim with silicate sediment, a "treasure trove of fossils," and buried wood particles that underwent the pyrolysis process. Hence burning wood particles mixed in the sediment that were transported by water into the cave--with alot of dead animals and plants.


Well, unlike you and me they actually have studied the rocks in outcrop and then apparently in the laboratory in some ways.

Observations and Disclaimer:
The picture is not exhaustive in giving the answers to the following observations and questions. These are only initial, but I feel they warrant investigation BEFORE PUBLISHING A SCIENTIFIC CONCLUSION.

1. Repeated slurry transports? The charcoal/ silicate sediment is layered. By gradualist interpretation, this would indicate many depositions. Was there a continuous supply of trees that kept burning up and then were swept into the cave by water and sediment over millions of years.

a. Why was there a continuous environment and the same repeating catastrophe of burning trees accompanied by water current and sand over millions of years?

2. Evidence of superposition. The "cave" is completely filled to the top until it meets just under the limestone strata--with no apparent gaps. Notice the limestone layers on top--left to right you see the layering to form a syncline (downward fold) and then an anticline (up) in the center. If you look at the layers of charcoaled (sandstone?) underneath, they bend in a similar fashion.

a. Is it coincidence that the layers underneath the limestone have matching folds? Wouldn't it make more sense to use the law of superposition in this case? The charcoal/silicate layers were first and the limestone was deposited on top.

3. "Intrusions" or some would say vugs: Probably the most convincing evidence that this is not a cave. I realize that intruisions are igneous, in case someone accuses me of ignorance. Notice the 2 nodules or vugs on top of the underneath charcoal/ sediment. They "intrude" into the bottom limestone layers. I don't see anything shiny like quartz indicative of a vug. How did this happen? Are they trying to tell us the below sediment bulldozed it's way against the hardened limestone cave ceiling, and against gravity to form the intrusions??!!!

a. Or was the sediment just super pressurized (by what mechanism) and filled a concave shape on the ceiling (no fissure or joint seen). But then you would nee a way for the pressurized air to escape wouldn't you? 


We don't know that a "gradualist" conclusion was reached or is an assumption that was been made in any subsequent study. Personally from the description of the sediments I would guess that part, or all were the sediment was deposited relatively rapidly. "Many depositions"...? Again, I can't tell from what is written here what was thought to be the case. Millions of years to infill the cave? That would be very unlikely in my opinion amd no claim of such is noted in the report.

No catastrophe is necessarily indicated unless any forest fire qualifies as such. Then again none is ruled out either. Where in the report does it say "continuous environment". or "repeating catastrophe"...? Once again, I don't see this claim being made. I think you may be using your worldview to postulate a straw man construct about what you think the geologists may have been saying they found here.

"Gaps" are relatively uncommon in the subsurface. I see no evidence of the folding you see in the picture. What I think I see are roughly parallel bedding surfaces dipping away from the position of the camera in the darker clastic deposits. The outcrop has been weathered into an irregular surface, or quarried into such a surface and I would guess that the folding you seem to think you see is simply due to variance in apparent dip. Apparent dip was explained to me on a field trip back in November, 1968 in my very first geology course, Physical Geology, within an outcrop at Moss Beach in the cliffed coastline. Our class could walk around dipping beds and observe them from various vantage points. The beds appeared more gently dipping when viewed from any vantage point that was not in the strike direction.

If anything I see some indication that the limestone bedding has a different dip, but it is hard to say from this photo. The limestone may even be relatively massive and lacking in much bedding, with color differences being a staining feature created after the cliff was eroded. But if the staining follows bedding surfaces there might be sub-parallelism with the sediments involved. Presumably the boundaries of the cave have been found in the lateral direction, and the contacts with the infilling sediments studied. An unconformable surface will be noticed. Geologists from Steno onwards have been aware of how this situation is not the typical situation described by the Law of Superposition.

I don't think any trained geologist would call instrusions as "vugs" as this describes quite a different feature in rocks. No, intrusions are usually but not always igneous. There are such occurences as clastic dikes which involve sandstones. What you are calling "nodules" or "vugs" clearly are not intrustions to me, but it is difficult to tell from the photo what is actually the case. My first and best impression is that these are remnants of the top layer of darker clastic material that lie beneath the limestone unit. It could be that erosion (or the hand of man) has made an irregular surface at the contact. On the left of the photo I think I see more of the same material preserved in a more tabular shape. I think this adds to the bedding dip probably being away from us. Another possibility if this is not an erosional feature is that the limestone roof of the cave had an irregular surface as you mention. This could occur by breaking off some of those features shown in your Carlsbad photo. I don't think that is what is present here. I am pretty sure that the pressure present during deposition in teh cave was 1 atmosphere, even if there is material filling in irregular hollows in the ceiling.

4. The article says that the silicate layers are not compacted, but then why is there no evidence of erosion, like gaps or fissures--indicating water erosion through the loose sediment?

a. LIMESTONE CAVES HAVE OR HAVE HAD WATER FLOWING THROUGH THEM, IT IS NOT STAGNATE, OR IT WOULD NOT FORM THE CAVE.


I can think of a couple of reasons for a relative lack of compaction. Compaction occurs mostly through de-watering as sediments subside with an ever-increasing overburden of rock on top of them. In this case, if the conclusions are correct that a cave was infilled, the walls and roof of the cave itself would support a subsequent overburden to a large extent. But I think another reason would be that significant subsidence did not occur following the deposition of the clastics. I don't think there was not a lot of major depositional activity in this part of the craton after Pennsylvanian times, but I am no expert of the geology of that part of the world.

Who said that there was no evidence of erosion? I do not find that in the report.
Sandstones, siltstones and the like don't tend to erode with open visible gaps and fissures when soft. They do show joint of fracture sets that often are found after therocks are indurated, but then again the report does not say one way or the other about any erosional features in the clastic sediments. The deposts are not typical and probably have been subjected to less stress than an average rock body.

The presence of the sediment infill is evidence of water flowing into / through the presumed cave

4. Where is the proof? No stalagmites, nor stalactites. Many limestone caves have these features--where are they in the article's picture?


The photo shows what looks like a cross-section through the "cave" and I don't think we can come to any conclusions about whether or not stalagmites or stalactites might be found in other portions of the cave feature. However, from what seems implied in the discussion, I would guess the flow of water might have been enough to remove such features through either physical or chemical erosion of the waters flowing through the cave. My guess is that the waters were at times relatively vigorous as shown by the sand deposition, and perhaps less vigorous as shown by finer -grained sediments. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the people doing the study came to the conclusion that the sediments were deposited in weeks, months, or perhaps just a few years. Look at the picture you provide of Carlsbad Caverns. Those features would be fairly vulnerable to any major water flow. One possibility that you seem be unwilling to allow for is that a cave actually did exist, and the waters of The Flood first eroded the stalactites and stalagmites and then deposited the clastic sediments. The charcoal could have come from lightning strikes in forests at the start of the rains.

5. No fissures or sinkholes in the limestone above, which would have brought the sediment.


That is not a conclusion that a geologist should make from a photo of an outcrop. One would have to do a lot more study of the areal extent of the cave. If one cave existed, it is likely that sinkholes existed elsewhere as well as other caves. But caves have mouths that water can flow into so one does not have to rely upon fissures or sinkholes.

6.  Why are there no modern examples of limestone caves with this kind of material being repeatedly deposited (all the way to the ceiling) in them.


There are modern examples of this, I have seen some myself. There is mention of such a likely occurence in the link below.

Choked caves

A creationist paradigm would fit this much more nicely than the unrealistic gradualist story.  The trees were probably burning from the volcanism that is believed to have accompanied the flood, the sediment slurry picked up burning wood, plants and animals in the current and deposited it.   Note that Mt. St Helens caused a giant landslide of the side of the mountain which was covered by trees.  DO you think some of these trees might have been buried while burning from the lava??

]I suggest the following scenario.  The limestone layers at the same level as the charcoal sediment were laid first, or were pre-exisant--and were soft.  A subsequent channel was catastrophically cut  through the soft layers by an outburst slurry containing burning wood embers--possibly from a mixture of volcanism and sedimentary transport (giant landslide).  As the slurry settled into the channel, lime mud was deposited rapidly over it, to seal the still burning embers and cause them to undergo pyrolysis.


If trees were buried by a landslide we will see a chaotic mix of sediment incasing them that would be nothing like the deposits described in this report. But you make a claim that a creationist explanation fits this better than the creationist straw man you have suggested as the explanation of the geologists involved. Yet this seems to me to simply be your assumption, since the model they might had been thinking fits the situation is not really discussed.

I think flood waters would have extinguished any buring embers in mere seconds. No volcanic sediments were noted, so bringing volcanism into the discussion does not seem well grounded in the few items of evidence we have been given. Also what is described does not lend itself to the mix of sediment one would expect from a landslide. What change in the conditions of The Flood would allow for a start wih lime mud and end with exactly the same lime mud but have layered clastics in between?

I don't think I have seen many accounts of the flooding episode as described by creationists that fit the evidence we have found. It would be expected to find occasional terrestrial clastic material in the limestone deposited at the same time outside of the "channel" you postulate, especially if the flow was as catastrophic as you suggest. Overbank deposits would be inevitable. No such clastics are reported to be in the limestone. How many "slurry events" are you going to allow? I think I can see hints of shale beds with sandstone lenses contained in them, but it is hard from such a photo to make such analysis. Does the landslide create alternating mud and then sandy debris flows? What such mechanism in your model would allow for this? I think you have basically come up with a discussion that meets your own criteria as stated in the first part of your post.

I find it very interesting how a discovery in the rock record can be "filtered" through a worldview to produce an interpretation of a "forensic scene".  Much like a murder scene must be interpreted, and produce a story, "scenes" in the rock record produce stories.  But some stories have big holes in my opinion.



#3 AFJ

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 08:27 AM

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However, I think what we really are most likely finding here is an initial report of a scientific study filtered and watered down in a "news" report for laymen readers. I found nothing that would allow me to jump to the conclusion that a wordview was being imposed upon whatever was found.

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In my opinion, the geologic timescale and the publishing of constant reports such as these, which allow the scientists' personal evolutionary/ old earth worldview and inferences in the report--creates and/or reinforces a pre-existant worldview in the minds of the readers. Everyone has a worldview--and actually if you don't have one, you have no points of reference from which to view "reality."

I'm pretty sure that there is other evidence to indicate that a cave is shown here. However, it sure looks like it could be one at first glance, with the darker sediments being found in a somewhat circular cave-like shape..

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I don't think the shape alone would not be a factor in the conclusion, exzcept that is an "opening." It could just as well be a filled gorge covered later by limestone--if you only the take the shape into account. The "v" shape of both sides could support this.

I put a disclaimer that the picture is not exhaustive though. If there are other factors to conclude it is a cave, this could still fit a flood geology scenario, as it has been calculated by Austin that limestone caves can erode quickly in comparison to the GT.

http://www.answersin...v9/i4/caves.asp
check footnote 5 for Austin citation

Even Steno realized that caves can create apparent exceptions to The Law of Superposition.

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A cave would definitely create an exception.

You are jumping to a conclusion that the sediments are mostly sand, at least if the report you link is your only source of information. It does not specify this. The darker sediments are of a shade of grey common to shales and there appear to be more massively bedded and lighter sandstone lenses within them.

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I put a question mark on sandstone. Although shale is probably closer to right, since shale is a mixture. The rock has silicates, plant material and charcoal in it. The report said the fill was silicate based if I remember correctly--I suppose to differenciate it from the calcite based limestone.

I believe the important point in terms of origin is that it is a different deposition.

The limestone above is cited as being dated as Ordovician with the caves eroded in Pennsylvanian times. The dating of the fossils in the clastics infilling the presumed cave is mentioned, and the limestone would have been dated similarly. If you want to take issue with the dating methods, that seems beyond the scope of what we are provided.

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I think it would be safe to say that relative dating by index fossils was the basis of dating, although radiometric dating may have taken place.

Using index fossils assumes they evolved. For instance, ammonites are used as an index of Sulerian and early Devonian period, so the strata are assigned that age no matter their mineral content. If it seems to be out of order, it is conclude to be "reworked." This presupposes the fact that ammonites evolved into and went extinct in a certain time period.

ALso, many fossils that are found in one period, are assigned to later also. There is constantly new data coming in. As I have said before, if they ever find a human skeleton with a dinosaur, they either move man back, and /or the species of dino up as a "straggling survivor." The GT will just adjust.

If a live ammonite was found today, they would just call it "a living fossil." While this may be called good science by some, it is called circular reasoning by creationists based on the presupposition that the GT is reality--a worldview.

At any rate, despite the fact that old earthers tell us the ammonites existed some 400 million years ago, there are numerous documented fossils, including ammonites and associated wood, that have 14C levels which calculate into thousands of years--not millions. These datings are done by reputable labs, which are quite capable and substract a given amount for background and contamination.

http://www.answersin...-ammonites-wood

I can give other links, if you think this an isolated incident.

Your conclusion that burning wood got buried underwater as indicated by the presence of the limestone mostly certainly is not supported by what is reported,

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I gave a hypothesis--not a conclusion. A possible flood geology scenario is not a conclusion. However, scientifically, one can say (independent of the overlying limestone) by the fact of charcoal in the underlying sediment--it was deposited rapidly. Burning wood has to be buried to make charcoal--an empirical fact that I saw in Africa when I was a missionary.

So the wood was still burning when buried. No opinion about that.

Secondly, the deposition was a slurry--sediment mixed in water. Nothing else but water will move that sediment--unless you believe landslides somehow filled the cave to the brim--which I find highly unlikely--especially given the geology of northern IL.

Rapid deposition plus water means there was a rapid current involved. In other words, the slurry had to pick up the burning wood and deposit it before it extinguished.


We don't know that a "gradualist" conclusion was reached or is an assumption that was been made in any subsequent study. Personally from the description of the sediments I would guess that part, or all were the sediment was deposited relatively rapidly.

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The origin of the limestone is dogmatically gradualist in any geological circle--whether it be professional, educational, or the press. There will be no compromise of this, and actualists will hold this gradualist stronghold. The geologic time periods are gradualist deep time. So what you have earlier preposed to be possible shale can be deposited rapidly you say, but you will not say that about the limestone.

Ancient lime mud found in limestone matrix is not like modern lime mud, either in it's crystal type (calcite and arogonite respectively) or grain size (much smaller than modern). Why? You have to create a hypothesis on this one, and it will blend with your personal worldview.


"Many depositions"...? Again, I can't tell from what is written here what was thought to be the case. Millions of years to infill the cave? That would be very unlikely in my opinion amd no claim of such is noted in the report.

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I just read a paper last month on the scablands, where the argument of multiple flooding is "supported" by the fact of the multiple strata in certain canyons. To say that multiple strata aren't considered multiple depostions is not evidenced in the writings and speech of geologists.


No catastrophe is necessarily indicated unless any forest fire qualifies as such.

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Then what other possibility do you include? There is transported sediment and transported burning wood being deposited, and the wood is still burning under the sediment when deposited. This is evidenced by charcoal fragments.

One thing is sure. A time limit is on the transport and depostion of the burning wood. What other mechanism can provide rapid transport of these materials except catastrophe?



Time is not permitting me to continue. I do thank you for your comments. As far as the nodule shaped formations on top of the central deposition. Whether you want to call them intrusions or whatever else--they intrude into the overlying layers. I find it difficult to believe the entire deposit fills the entire cave with no gaps--but rather with these intrusions included! How would sediment do this even if there were concave "holes" in the above limestone? It would either have a fissure or point of entry in the top of the "holes", defy gravity, or it is a result of superpositioning of the limestone.

And the fact of layering--this is either a result of particle segregation in current or multiple depositions. I would sure like to see a study of the "paleo"current indicators in that lower rock!

#4 AFJ

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 02:42 PM

Forgive the double negatives and a few typos in the above post. I do edit, but I miss some things.

#5 Geode

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 10:08 PM

Geode: ”However, I think what we really are most likely finding here is an initial report of a scientific study filtered and watered down in a "news" report for laymen readers. I found nothing that would allow me to jump to the conclusion that a wordview was being imposed upon whatever was found.”

In my opinion, the geologic timescale and the publishing of constant reports such as these, which allow the scientists' personal evolutionary/ old earth worldview and inferences in the report--creates and/or reinforces a pre-existant worldview in the minds of the readers. Everyone has a worldview--and actually if you don't have one, you have no points of reference from which to view "reality."


Yes, I know you think this is the case. I think what we see in science is the result of building upon solid principles borne out by evidence. I think the worldview in play is to approach the study of the evidence as objectively and free of bias as can be managed. We all have biases and they should be identified and not allowed to prejudice a scientific study as much as is possible. There are indeed assumptions made in the report, such as acceptance of geologic time. But this has been supported by so much evidence through objective study that it has been shown as valid.

Geode:”I'm pretty sure that there is other evidence to indicate that a cave is shown here. However, it sure looks like it could be one at first glance, with the darker sediments being found in a somewhat circular cave-like shape.”

I don't think the shape alone would not be a factor in the conclusion, exzcept that is an "opening." It could just as well be a filled gorge covered later by limestone--if you only the take the shape into account. The "v" shape of both sides could support this.

I put a disclaimer that the picture is not exhaustive though. If there are other factors to conclude it is a cave, this could still fit a flood geology scenario, as it has been calculated by Austin that limestone caves can erode quickly in comparison to the GT.


Presumably Plotnik and his students have done some mapping out of the cave. The limestone above and below the clastics appears to be the same, so I would think this possibility you give here to be unlikely. I don’t think there is a V-shape to the sides, as far as I can tell under the talus the sides are roughly round in terms of their shape.

The picture is hard to interpret, and I think most such analysis may best be avoided as much as possible as I have already discussed.

Thanks for the reference from AIG and the Austin footnote. What I found was basically speculation with no actual research having been done to back up anything that was written. I then hoped Steve Austin would have actually done what was claimed here:

“But millions of years are not necessary for limestone cave formation. Geologist Dr Steve Austin, of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, California, has studied water chemistry and flow rates in a large cave-containing area in central Kentucky. He concluded that a cave 59 metres long and one metre square in the famous Mammoth Cave Upland region of Kentucky could form in one year!5 If even remotely similar rates of formation occurred elsewhere, huge caverns obviously could form in a very short time.”

Austin on caves

Chemical analyses of the area's groundwater by Thrailkill12 indicate that mean calcium ion concentration is 49.0 milligram per liter and the mean magnesium ion is 9.7 milligram per liter. Because rain water has only trace amounts of calcium and magnesium, essentially all of the dissolved calcium and magnesium in the groundwater must come from solution of calcite and dolomite. By simple chemical calculation it can be shown that these concentrations represent 0.16 gram of dissolved calcite and dolomite per liter of groundwater.
It is reasonable to assume that about 1.0 meter of the 1.22 meters of mean annual rainfall go into the aquifer. Therefore, each square kilometer (1 million square meters) of central Kentucky receives about 1 million cubic meters of infiltration each year (1,000,000 m2 x l m = 1,000,000 m3). Because a cubic meter of water contains 1 thousand liters, 1 billion liters of water enter the ground through each square kilometer of land surface each year.
The above data can be used to calculate the amount of calcite and dolomite dissolved each year. This is done by multiplying the mass of minerals per liter times the water infiltration rate (0.16 g/l x 1,000,000,000 l/yr = 160,000,000 g/yr). The answer is 160 million grams (176 tons) of dissolved calcite and dolomite per year over each square kilometer of land surface. If the mass of calcite and dolomite dissolved is divided by the density of the minerals, the volume is obtained (160,000,000 g/yr ÷ 2,700,000g/m3 = 59 m3/yr). Thus, if the dissolving power of the acid in one square kilometer of central Kentucky is carried in one conduit, a cave 1 meter square and 59 meters long could form in a year!13
The high rate of solution of limestone and dolostone should be a matter of alarm to uniformitarian geologists. In 2 million years (the assumed duration of the Pleistocene Epoch and the inferred age of many caves), a layer of limestone well over 100 meters thick could be completely dissolved off of Kentucky (assuming present rates and conditions). Any reasonable estimate of the volume of limestone actually removed by solution of Kentucky caves and karst would be insignificant compared to that predicted by an evolutionary mode).


He really didn’t study water chemistry and flow rates at all. He seems to have written what is the equivalent of a high school research paper and made speculations (some of which immediately appear to be possibly seriously flawed to me) from what he gleaned from papers written by other workers (one in particular) who actually had done some research about ground water in Kentucky. The result is what is often termed “arm-chair” geology and that term is not meant to be complimentary when a geologist applies it to a study since it implies that the requisite work that would be necessary in order to come up with valid and meaningful conclusions was not done, or done poorly without proper study. It is basically typical of ICR papers I have seen, and why they are ignored or criticized in terms of their validity. It is obvious that Austin didn’t even set foot once in the area of study or do any research or experimentation what-so-ever of his own. He makes wild assumptions on top of assumptions in my opinion. In particular he cites the dissolved mineral content in groundwater from one study. Such groundwater studies generally show a large range in values, and he has probably basically thrown away a lot of the data to just assume the one value he cites, most likely the maximum he could find published. He then concludes that rapidly flowing waters through subsurface conduits would dissolve and then hold similar concentrations of dissolved minerals. I find a huge problem with his reasoning here. The groundwater studies were probably done by sampling waters that are not rapidly flowing. I seem to remember some such studies showing how the concentrations become much more dilute with a major influx of rainwater. This is only logical. I’ll bet Austin’s conclusions are off by several orders of magnitude. He also assumes that the waters would be channeled preferentially in one narrow part of the total area. Sorry, I find this his train of thought to amount to comparing apples and oranges in terms of the conditions present.

I could apply my own experience as I dissolved limestones and dolomites in concentrated formic acid solutions to get the contained microfossils (conodonts) in doing my thesis. In doing so I can at least be using experimental first -hand evidence, and not mining bits and pieces of information from articles and making wild assumptions from information from unrelated parts of studies.

I dissolved slab samples of carbonates that were about 3-5 cm thick, and it took a day or two to dissolve them completely even though they were exposed on all sides to the power of the acid unlike the situation Austin would be describing where far less surface area was in play unless the rocks were extensively fractured and faulted with the waters pouring through all of them. So if you take my example in such a way to induce the maximum solution, 5 cm of material could be dissolved in a day. The basin in which I did the work was about 50 cm by two meters making it somewhat similar to the one sq. meter that Austin cites. So, using a concentrated acid that would have destroyed my hands if I had not worm rubber gloves, I calculate that it would have taken 20 days to dissolve each meter of rock if using the faster unit of time needed. If we compare this to Austin’s claim of a 59 meter cave, it would take 3.23 years to complete the process, and this would be using acid in a concentration to effect solution in the shortest time possible. There were many bubbles of carbon dioxide being evolved during the process of dissolving the rock when I did this process, which shows how much more limestone was being dissolved than would be the case with the weak acids that would be available for use in Austin’s calculations. Did I just do good science? Not really, but at least my numbers were based upon my own observations and directly recorded the time element in dissolving carbonate rocks. My conclusion showed that a maximum rate was a lot slower than what he came up with.

His paper was written for creationists, but what concerns me is that so many will simply accept what he has written “hook line and sinker” without thinking through the implications of his process in reaching his conclusions. I think if one went to the sources Austin used and pieced all the evidence together it would be found that his conclusions are very unreasonable yet he is now being cited as essentially proving that limestone caves form rapidly.

I am losing the quotes now, so I should continue this in a separate post.

#6 Geode

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 10:18 PM

Please ignore my typos and lapses in sentence structure as well, most all of us make them.

Earlier post continued:

Geode: “You are jumping to a conclusion that the sediments are mostly sand, at least if the report you link is your only source of information. It does not specify this. The darker sediments are of a shade of grey common to shales and there appear to be more massively bedded and lighter sandstone lenses within them.“

I put a question mark on sandstone. Although shale is probably closer to right, since shale is a mixture. The rock has silicates, plant material and charcoal in it. The report said the fill was silicate based if I remember correctly--I suppose to differenciate it from the calcite based limestone.
I believe the important point in terms of origin is that it is a different deposition.


Shale usually is no more a “mixture” than sandstone and shales and sandstones are indeed both silicates. I don't think the report said anything about "silicates" as there would be no reason to do so as this would have been a logically accepted "given" in the lithologic terms used.

Geode: “The limestone above is cited as being dated as Ordovician with the caves eroded in Pennsylvanian times. The dating of the fossils in the clastics infilling the presumed cave is mentioned, and the limestone would have been dated similarly. If you want to take issue with the dating methods, that seems beyond the scope of what we are provided. “

I think it would be safe to say that relative dating by index fossils was the basis of dating, although radiometric dating may have taken place. 

Using index fossils assumes they evolved. For instance, ammonites are used as an index of Sulerian and early Devonian period, so the strata are assigned that age no matter their mineral content. If it seems to be out of order, it is conclude to be "reworked." This presupposes the fact that ammonites evolved into and went extinct in a certain time period.

Also, many fossils that are found in one period, are assigned to later also. There is constantly new data coming in. As I have said before, if they ever find a human skeleton with a dinosaur, they either move man back, and /or the species of dino up as a "straggling survivor." The GT will just adjust. 

If a live ammonite was found today, they would just call it "a living fossil." While this may be called good science by some, it is called circular reasoning by creationists based on the presupposition that the GT is reality--a worldview.

At any rate, despite the fact that old earthers tell us the ammonites existed some 400 million years ago, there are numerous documented fossils, including ammonites and associated wood, that have 14C levels which calculate into thousands of years--not millions. These datings are done by reputable labs, which are quite capable and substract a given amount for background and contamination.


Yes, it would be imposing a worldview to do as you claim. However, I have heard this reasoning about dating many times before and I think it is generally false. Sorry, I don’t buy into this “conspiracy theory” of how dating is done by workers in science, for one thing because I have been involved is some biostratigraphic work myself where all the fossil forms did not appear to make sense in the places they were found. We re-sampled to verify what we had found and in doing so determine why fossils that seemingly did not fit were in our samples. We found contamination coming from caved material from above. This was also verified by the lithologies in which the fossils were found. I hear this argument quite often on boards such as this one and in my opinion it is not the practice of geologists and paleontologists to do this. It would be intellectually dishonest and unethical in my opinion. Technical papers in geology commonly have a discussion of age dates that do not fit that is far more objective than you have implied. Sometimes the researchers simply state that they do not know how to reconcile all the data.

Biostratigraphy is most often done by using “range zonation”, as what you have noted is correct about the occurrence of fossils through more than one interval of time. Re-working sometimes occurs, but typically physical evidence such as erosion of the fossil’s surface has already caused suspicion that this is the case right from the start. Some studies are flawed, but not to the extent that is implied here, or using the bad scientific methods that you imply. The dating methods used are not circular but that has been explained in other threads and I know that dedicated creationists do not accept the reasoning. involved. I think it is because of the worldview held that anything that does not fit into the preconceived model of The Flood cannot be correct and therefore is rejected out of hand. I guess they assume that anyone on the other side will approach evidence in the same manner but this is not the case. It has been widely claimed that the ICR has a statement of faith that all must sign that basically says that anything that does not fit into the literal interpretation of creation as they have interpreted it from the Bible must be automatically rejected as false. Mainstream science does not follow this sort of worldview if done properly. But at least the standard is to uphold objective research.

But this is off on a tangent, for the fact is that human skeletons have not been found with dinosaurs and ammonites have not been found living today.

I think a discussion of radiometric age dates is irrelevant to what we have been discussing and will just take the thread away from what actually is in the report. But since creationists tend to say that such age dates are flawed by definition, why cite anything about them at all? It sort of strikes me as the author of he reference you give is saying “we will believe the data when it conforms to what we already believe and reject it when it does not.” In my opinion the vast body of evidence is to the contrary, with good substantiation of dates obtained by collaborative studies using similar and different means. A few age dates appear wrong from time to time, that is the nature of such detailed work when proper methods are not used. But at other times they have been correct and the assumptions previously being made have to be altered. But the way creationists tend to approach radiometric dating seems to be in essence doing what you seem to be claiming paleontologists do with some of their data. Reputable labs can only make the best of what they are given. I have seen discussions where the methods in which the samples used by Snelling and others have been obtained has been cast into considerable doubt, If correct, the conclusions reached have little or no meaning.

Geode: “Your conclusion that burning wood got buried underwater as indicated by the presence of the limestone mostly certainly is not supported by what is reported,”

I gave a hypothesis--not a conclusion. A possible flood geology scenario is not a conclusion. However, scientifically, one can say (independent of the overlying limestone) by the fact of charcoal in the underlying sediment--it was deposited rapidly. Burning wood has to be buried to make charcoal--an empirical fact that I saw in Africa when I was a missionary.

So the wood was still burning when buried. No opinion about that.
Secondly, the deposition was a slurry--sediment mixed in water. Nothing else but water will move that sediment--unless you believe landslides somehow filled the cave to the brim--which I find highly unlikely--especially given the geology of northern IL.

Rapid deposition plus water means there was a rapid current involved. In other words, the slurry had to pick up the burning wood and deposit it before it extinguished.


OK, I find fault in your hypothesis. I think it is distinctly your opinion that the wood was still burning when buried. This may have been true for some of it but not likely for all, or even most of it. Why does having charcoal in the sediment indicate rapid deposition?

Yes, I agree that charcoal is created when wood is heated in a relative absence of oxygen but this does not have to occur with burial. There isn't much oxygen in some parts of a forest when it is in full blaze. Despite the use of the term "burning" in the report, I think you originally used a better term "pyrolysis" for the creation of charcoal. I have walked through areas that have been consumed by forest fires and considerable charcoal was left behind, principally in charred tree trucks.

Where was a “slurry” mentioned? I don’t think I would apply it here as it usually implies very fine grained material and viscosity not generally present in sediment deposition by water. It indicates sediment being carried almost entirely in suspension. I was not the one to bring up landslides. I accepted the report's claim of deposition by water.

Geode: “We don't know that a "gradualist" conclusion was reached or is an assumption that was been made in any subsequent study. Personally from the description of the sediments I would guess that part, or all were the sediment was deposited relatively rapidly. “

The origin of the limestone is dogmatically gradualist in any geological circle--whether it be professional, educational, or the press. There will be no compromise of this, and actualists will hold this gradualist stronghold. The geologic time periods are gradualist deep time. So what you have earlier preposed to be possible shale can be deposited rapidly you say, but you will not say that about the limestone.

Ancient lime mud found in limestone matrix is not like modern lime mud, either in it's crystal type (calcite and arogonite respectively) or grain size (much smaller than modern). Why? You have to create a hypothesis on this one, and it will blend with your personal worldview.


Once again, I don’t approach geology consciously from a worldview as you imply, except that I feel natural laws are valid and that the best approach to doing scientific work is to assume that the laws are operative. I don’t think, “In what part of the Great Flood did this occur?” Or how does the vast length of earth history impact this.” I have approached carbonate petrology looking at the data and then asking myself what it is telling me. I have studied both ancient and modern lime muds. Actually there is quite a problem in deciding even what a "lime mud" is in terms of grain size. That was a problem with Bob Folk's original classification of "micrite"...he placed the grain size limit lower than many geologists felt comfortable with using. So I think there is a problem with the pigeon-holing that comes with classification schemes and possibly somebody has been twisting definitions in the source that you got this information from in order to make a point that is probably quite incorrect in some ways, probably due to force-fitting it into a worldview.

It has been generally observed that aragonite is deposited more commonly and in larger proportions in the primary deposition of a very fine-grained carbonate rock. But carbonates are trickier than clastics in that they re-crystallize in later stages of the rocks cycle. The crystal structure present after the deposition of ancient muds is likely to have generally been the same as in modern muds as is the grain size. Yes, some ancient limestones are finer-grained than modern ones that form under similar conditions. This is due in part to diagenetic changes that alter grain sizes. Diagenesis is typical in carbonate rocks. When thin-section petrographic analysis of pre-Pleistocene carbonates is done the outlines of what were aragonite grains can be seen. I have seen this myself in my own thin-sections. Aragonite is relatively unstable compared with calcite and the outlines of original aragonite skeletal fragments can be seen where a mold or void has been filled with smaller crystals of calcite.

There was absolutely nothing mentioned about the rate of deposition of the limestone in the report, which was the point I was making. You have interjected an idea not present in the report. I also don't think concepts of carbonate deposition are as dogmatically gradualist as you claim. There have been instances noted of carbonate deposition that have been termed “rapid” and taking place at similar rates to terrigenous sediment deposition. Of course if you insist that hundreds of meters of limestone can be deposited in a year that would be deposition on at an “astronomical” rate, not on that is simply rapid.

Geode: "Many depositions"...? Again, I can't tell from what is written here what was thought to be the case. Millions of years to infill the cave? That would be very unlikely in my opinion amd no claim of such is noted in the report."
  
I just read a paper last month on the scablands, where the argument of multiple flooding is "supported" by the fact of the multiple strata in certain canyons. To say that multiple strata aren't considered multiple depositions is not evidenced in the writings and speech of geologists.


Obviously some strata are the result of different depositional events than others in a sequence. But no, I do not agree that all strata are the result of different depositional events. How about the result in the experiment in the video "Drama in the Rocks"....? How many "depositions" were involved? I would say that one continuous depositional event was shown that created multiple “layers” or “strata” that were identified by the people who set up the experiment and recorded the deposition for all of us to witness. Often paraconformities will be present between bedding planes but not always.

But my point was that the report said nothing about any of this. In my opinion I would guess that multiple depositional events were in fact involved in filling in the cave, but this is my making an assumption outside of what was reported.

Geode: "No catastrophe is necessarily indicated unless any forest fire qualifies as such."

Then what other possibility do you include? There is transported sediment and transported burning wood being deposited, and the wood is still burning under the sediment when deposited. This is evidenced by charcoal fragments.

One thing is sure. A time limit is on the transport and depostion of the burning wood. What other mechanism can provide rapid transport of these materials except catastrophe?


I think it was implicit in what I wrote that I accept that forest fires are the likely cause of the formation of charcoal. Just about every forest fire creates charcoal. Are all of them catastrophes? I would say that many are not considered as such, and “controlled burns” are even purposely set. I have walked through open areas that had been burned weeks or months before and charcoal was always present. I have seen charcoal in places that were burned years before. Charcoal is found in other deposits that are not associated with caves, in rocks of various ages.

One again I reject the notion that "burning wood" was being transported. I think charcoal was created in events separate to the transportation and the final deposition. What you are saying was not in the report but apparently cut from the whole cloth of your worldview. It is not supported by what is physically seen in our environment. Fire and water do not co-exist as you are implying. Forest fires are doused by water being dumped on them, sometimes more effectively than at other times, but burning wood is not transported away. A rainstorm will put out a forest fire. Some materials can burn underwater, but wood is not one of them. The formation of the charcoal would clearly have taken place before it was transported.

Try placing the burning charcoal from your BBQ into a swimming pool and see how long the burning continues....burning wood would be transported probably only a few feet before at the most before it was no longer burning. It never would have reached the cave. So no, I don't see the time limit on the transportation and deposition of the charcoal to be all that limited or short. I have seen charcoal that had been created in a forest fire years earlier. Charcoal is a relatively stable substance that does not rapidly decay.

What else could account for what is found in the sediments? As the report indicates dry conditions could have caused forests to be more susceptible to fires. I suppose an even greater amount than usual could be created where an accumulation of logs on top of each other provided such a state where oxygen was more likely to be excluded and more charcoal was formed. A lightning strike could light them. A greater amount of charcoal would be created in the lower layers of logs. Flash floods could then move the charcoal towards the mouth of the cave or through sinkholes where it was deposited with other sediment carried by the flood waters. This could be something that was repeated multiple times. I see no need to invoke a catastrophic event. Of course any fire that destroys life and property today is considered catastrophic, but in regards to the deposits noted in the report I don’t feel the creation and transportation of the charcoal required anything that we do not now see taking place on the planet every year.

Time is not permitting me to continue. I do thank you for your comments. As far as the nodule shaped formations on top of the central deposition. Whether you want to call them intrusions or whatever else--they intrude into the overlying layers. I find it difficult to believe the entire deposit fills the entire cave with no gaps--but rather with these intrusions included! How would sediment do this even if there were concave "holes" in the above limestone? It would either have a fissure or point of entry in the top of the "holes", defy gravity, or it is a result of superpositioning of the limestone.


Thanks you for posting the interesting report. I have not worked with karst geology in a long, long time and it was interesting to see this new development.

You know the saying, "Nature abhors a vacuum"...it generally applies to "gaps" in the subsurface as well. If you had land with gopher holes and the land became covered by a river carrying sediment, do you think any holes or tunnels would remain open, or would they fill with water and sediment? If a slurry was really present as in your hypothesis any water would carry quite a bit of sediment load.

An intrusion would have to "intrude" as you have said. We are told nothing about the upper contact of the clastic sediments with the limestone. It is a pity we cannot simply walk to the outcrop and look. If the limestone had been soft you would see deformation around any such "intrusive" feature. I can see none, although it is hard to evaluate from the photo.

The ceilings of caves are sometimes irregular and filling in such a pre-existing shape could account for what appears to be an intrusion to you. The ceilings might have become more irregular when waters started flowing within them. If we take Steven Austin's conclusions to be correct the cave's shape could have been altered quite a bit in a short time. Dissolving something the size of what we see here could have been effected in a short time (by his calculations) even as sediment was deposited on the floor of the cave. There were probably also the effects of gravity in filling the cave, and the slope of the cave may have been significant. The sediment could "backfill" until the the entire cave was completely occupied by sediments. The uncompacted sediments would still have a lot of porosity and water could continue passing through them. Sort of like coffee grounds through a filter the sediments could be stopped as the water continues to drain. The sediments would sequentially build up until in contact with the ceiling. No need to defy gravity.




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