More Evidence Supporting The Young-Earth Theory of Earth’s Magnetic Field

One of my “top five” reasons for thinking that the earth is only thousands of years old comes from studying its magnetic field. As I wrote in the post I just linked, the young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field (often called the ‘rapid-decay theory’) not only properly reproduces the magnetic fields of the planets, it actually predicted two of those magnetic fields before they were measured. When a theory can make predictions regarding unmeasured quantities and the subsequent measurements agree with the theory, there is strong evidence that the theory is true.

The young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field not only correctly predicted the magnetic fields of two planets before they were measured, it has made other predictions that were later confirmed by measurement. As discussed in the previous post, it predicted that rocks from Mars should show that Mars at one time had a planetary magnetic field, even though it does not have one today. That was later confirmed. In addition, it predicted that Mercury’s magnetic field has decreased since it was last measured in 1975. MESSENGER, the latest spacecraft to visit Mercury, did a “quick and dirty” measurement of Mercury’s magnetic field in 2008, and the measurement confirmed this prediction, albeit with very large error bars. I eagerly await MESSENGER’S more precise measurement to see exactly how close the young-earth theory’s prediction is to the precisely-measured value.

In the meantime, some geologists have come up with even more evidence for the validity of the young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field.

One of the expectations of the young-earth theory is that the earth’s magnetic field reversed rapidly (probably several times) during the worldwide Flood.1 During these rapid reversals, the north pole of earth’s magnetic field became the south pole, and vice-versa. The old-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field also predicts that the field has reversed in the past, but it predicts that these reversals occur over a period of several thousands of years.

Five years after the young-earth theory was published, the first evidence for rapid reversals of earth’s magnetic field was discovered.2 The authors of the study were examining lava flows, which “record” the direction of earth’s magnetic field when the lava cooled based on the orientation of magnetic crystals in the rock. The authors noted that in a particular series of lava flows, the earth’s magnetic field seemed to have reversed over a period of days, not thousands of years.

Not surprisingly, most geologists resisted this notion, since old-earth geologists tend to prefer believing in slow, gradual change. However, the same authors produced a paper six years later that provided even more evidence to support their analysis.3 Despite the new evidence, most geologists would like to ignore these data, as rapid magnetic field reversals are not consistent with the old-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field. Of course, young-earth geologists see the data as yet another confirmation of the young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field.

Well, recently the idea of rapid magnetic field reversals has become harder to ignore, because a paper that is slated for publication in Geophysical Research Letters claims to have found another example of a rapid magnetic field reversal.4 This comes from a different lava flow entirely. According to the analysis, the change is not as rapid as is indicated by the previous studies. Instead of reversing over a period of days, this lava flow indicates a reversal took place over a period of years.

Now the young-earth theory does not predict that “slow” a reversal. Instead, it predicts that the earth’s magnetic field probably reversed several times during the world-wide Flood. Nevertheless, all three of these studies are much more in line with the predictions of the young-earth theory than the old-earth theory.

Of course, don’t expect old-earth geologists to be persuaded by these data. After all, old-earth geologists have lots of preconceptions that will most likely force them to assume there is something wrong with all three of these studies. However, those of us who are free to follow the data can accept the studies for what they appear to be: evidence in favor of the young-earth theory of planetary magnetic fields.


1. D. Russell Humphreys, “The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields,” CRSQ 21, 1984 (Available online)
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2. Coe, R.S. and Prevot, M., “Evidence Suggesting Extremely Rapid Field Variation During a Geomagnetic Reversal,” Earth and Planetary Science 92:292-298, 1989
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3. Coe, R.S., Prevot, M., and Camps, P., “New Evidence for Extremely Rapid Change of the Geomagnetic Field During a Reversal,” Nature 374:687-692, 1995
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4. Bogue, S. W., and J. M. G. Glen, “Very rapid geomagnetic field change recorded by the partial remagnetization of a lava flow,” Geophys. Res. Lett., in press, 2010 (Available online with subscription)
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  1. Kevin N September 25, 2010 8:50 pm

    Dr. Wile:

    I would like to make a few comments regarding Earth’s magnetic field, and why the study of it does not provide evidence for a young Earth:

    1. The geological evidence does not point to a decaying geomagnetic field, but rather to a fluctuating field. The argument that Earth’s geomagnetic field is decaying exponentially and would have been dangerously high in the past if Earth were millions of years old is not nearly as strong as many YECs make it out to be; in fact I would say that it is completely invalid. YECs show plots of measurements of the magnetic moment of Earth’s magnetic field since the early 1800s, then fit an exponential curve to those points, and then extrapolate that curve into the past. The conventional geological interpretation of this “decay” is that the strength (I’m not referring to north-south polarity) of the magnetic field varies over time, in some sort of approximately sinusoidal pattern. We can discern which of these two interpretations is correct by looking for residual magnetism in archeological sites (for recent events) and in the geological record for the longer term record. The field evidence clearly supports the fluctuating model. Because of this, the strength of Earth’s magnetic field is absolutely not an evidence for a young Earth.

    While many YECs now acknowledge that the polarity (north or south) of Earth’s magnetic field can reverse, they still hold on stubbornly to the idea that it is decaying over time. For a graph of values of Earth’s magnetic moment over the past few hundred thousand years see . What we see for the past 200 years is just a tiny fragment of this longer trend.

    2. The number of reversals of Earth’s magnetic field in the past is large (see the graphics on the Wikipedia page: ), and difficult to reconcile with events that spread over a year (the flood) or even a few centuries, as in the post-flood residual catastrophism that many YEC geologists now advocate. Most measurements of geomagnetism have been made in igneous rocks, such as lava flows. The orientation of magnetic grains in the lava flows is frozen into place when the flow crystallizes, which is a process that takes time. If the magnetic field were fluctuating as rapidly as YECs say it was during the flood, almost all lava flows produced during the flood should contain records of multiple reversals as different parts of the flow crystallized. The reality is that a vast majority of flows are either normal or reversed polarity. The measured rapidity of geomagnetic reversals doesn’t really help the YEC case; in fact it is evidence against it.

    3. I don’t put much weight on the predictive value of Humphrey’s theory. Comparing the geomagnetic fields of terrestrial planets to that of gas giants is like comparing apples and oranges. The magnetic fields of terrestrial planets is related to their iron cores. The magnetic fields of Jupiter and Saturn are probably related to liquid metallic hydrogen deep in their interiors. The fields of Uranus and Neptune, though very poorly understood, could be formed by ionic currents (perhaps ammonium ions) in their interiors. If so, these gas giant magnetic fields are not residual, as Humphreys advocates, but sustained.

    In summary, I think that YECs greatly overstate their “Earth’s magnetic field proves the Earth is young” case.

    Grace and Peace,
    Kevin Nelstead

    • jlwile September 26, 2010 11:57 am

      Hi Kevin. Thanks for your comment. I think it goes a long way towards illustrating some of the fundamental differences between you and me when it comes to how we view science. In response to your points:

      1. The direct scientific evidence does, indeed point to a decaying magnetic field. Since we started measuring it in the 1800s, it has been decaying. Thus, the most reasonable scientific conclusion from the data is that the earth’s magnetic field decays. Now I agree that if you make assumptions about how to measure the earth’s magnetic field in the past, and you make additional assumptions about how old the strata in which you are measuring are, you can come up with all sorts of fun behaviors for the earth’s magnetic field. As a scientist, however, I prefer making my decisions based on the most direct measurements (which require the fewest assumptions). That is probably one big difference between you and me when it comes to how we view science.

      I do think you need to learn about the planetary magnetic field model that I am discussing, because it is radically different from the one you seem to think it is. The model I am discussing, which you can learn about here, certainly does not fit the measured decay to an exponential function and then extrapolate back to determine when the magnetic field would be “dangerously strong” in the past. Instead, it is a model that begins with first principles, derives a decay law that is consistent with the measured data and then measures the age of the field. There is no extrapolation back to dangerous levels or anything like that. Also, it is not a question of YECs “admitting” that magnetic reversals happened in the past. It is actually a part of the model.

      2. I agree that there have been several reversals in the past. The difference between you and me is that I am not persuaded by the unjustified extrapolations needed to come up with an old-earth timescale. Thus, I see them happening quickly, as the data discussed in this post indicate. This is a part of the young-earth creationist model of planetary magnetic fields, so these data directly support the model. In addition, they are very hard to understand in terms of the old-earth model of planetary magnetic fields, which is why most old-earthers would prefer to think that the conclusions of the studies discussed in this post are incorrect.

      In fact, the paleomagnetic records we have today are essentially what you would expect given the young-earth model of the magnetic field and Flood geology. You would not expect the lava flows to record multiple reversals, as a reversal occurs rapidly. Thus, most of the time while lava was cooling during the Flood, only one polarity existed – either the current one or the reversed one. So in fact, the observed data support the young-earth model quite well.

      3. I am not surprised that you put little weight on the predictive power of Humphreys’s model. I think that is probably common for most old-earthers. Old-earth theories are not very predictive, so the predictive power of a model is generally de-emphasized by most old-earth scientists. For me, however, the predictive power of a model is directly related to its validity and its usefulness. That’s yet another difference between you and me when it comes to science. If Humphreys’s model was only able to predict one or two things, or if it made a lot of predictions but only a few were confirmed by the data, it would be scientifically reasonable to look at the model skeptically. However, Humphreys’s model has predicted A LOT of things, ALL of which have been confirmed by subsequent measurement. To me, that makes it look very reliable, especially when compared to the old-earth model of geomagnetism, which is at odds with a large amount of data (including the data discussed in this post) and is quite terrible at making successful predictions.

      Also, if you learned Humphreys’s model, you would know that the physical differences between the terrestrial and gas planets are taken into account by the model. Indeed, given the fact that his model was the only one that could accurately predict the magnetic fields of two gas giants before they were measured, it seems clear to me that his model has a better understanding of the kinds of fields such planets would have than the old-earth model!

      In summary, when you look at the direct data, the young-earth theory of planetary magnetic fields is confirmed time and time again. To argue against the young-earth theory, you have to rely on indirect measurements that contain lots of assumptions, many of which are unwarranted. Even when you do that, the resulting model is one with very little predictive power and very little success at reproducing the known data. As a result, the data related to geomagnetism provide significant confirmation of the young-earth theory of planetary magnetic fields.

      Thanks once again for your comment. I appreciate your willingness to discuss such things.

  2. Josiah September 26, 2010 2:42 pm

    Can you explain how magnetic reversals are part of the model for magnetic field decay, or at least give me a nudge in the right direction. After all from my perspective the sequence starting 100, -90, and 81 doesn’t look much like a continual decay!

    • jlwile September 26, 2010 3:30 pm

      Josiah, the reversal mechanism is a bit complex. but Humphreys explains it here. Note that unlike the old-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field, Humphreys’s mechanism actually explains HOW the reversals happen.

      The transformation of water into the various chemicals that make up the earth would both produce energy and take energy, depending on the nuclei being made. Thus, it is hard to say whether or not there will be any excess energy. However, the energy really doesn’t affect the magnetic field. The reason a magnetic field develops is that the large magnetic moment of the aligned water molecules in the “ball of water” would be reduced to zero when the transmutation occurred. This would produce a change in the magnetic flux, which Faraday’s Law tells us will produce an electrical current in any conductor. Thus, an electrical current started in the conductive core of the earth because of the enormous change in magnetic flux. That electrical current, of course, produces the magnetic field we see today.

  3. Josiah September 26, 2010 2:58 pm

    Your link in Creationist Research works from the assumption that the earth was created out of pure H2O, which surely ought to cast a good deal of doubt upon the results. Wouldn’t the nuclear energies involved in changing from from Hydrogen and Oxygen to the many elements and isotopes we have today invalidate any magnetic field results instantly?

  4. Kevin N September 27, 2010 8:30 pm

    Dr Wile:

    I think you are being overly selective in what you admit as evidence for the decay of Earth’s magnetic field. You accept the direct measurements of the intensity of Earth’s magnetic field since the early 1800s, but reject paleointensity measurements from archeological and geological studies which consistently show a variable geomagnetic intensity throughout the Holocene, rather than an exponential decay. If one does an image search on the internet for “geomagnetic paleointensity” they will quickly find a number of graphs depicting values of Earth’s dipole moment over the past few thousand years. A good test of Humphreys’ theory is how well it matches real-world values, and in this case it fails.

    No matter how Earth’s magnetic field is generated (not all geophysicists are satisfied with the dynamo model as it now stands), the super-rapid reversal scenario of “flood geology” simply doesn’t match what is observed in rocks in the field. We have a fairly continuous record of geomagnetic reversals written in the basalt on the sea floor. This record doesn’t contain “several reversals” but hundreds. If most of these occurred during the flood year, then they must have occurred at a frequency of around once every day or every few days.

    Think about massive lava flows, such as the Steens Mountain basalts (where the rapid changes in geomagnetism associated with a reversal have been measured) and the related Columbia River basalts. The combined volume of these two basalt groups in Oregon and Washington is in the 200,000 cubic kilometer range! This didn’t all come out of the interior of Earth at once, but as individual flows, some of which were over 100 meters in thickness and covered tens of thousands of square kilometers. Almost all of these flows are either completely normal polarity or completely reverse; the Steens Mountain flows that show a snapshot of a reversal occurring are certainly the exception rather than the rule.

    Lava flows don’t crystallize overnight. A modern analog would be the Kilauea Iki eruption on Hawaii in 1959. Basaltic lava from this eruption pooled in the crater to a depth of over 100 meters, and didn’t crystallize completely until around 1995. That’s 36 years later. Now think about the flows in the Steens Mountain or Columbia River basalts. If these came out at a time when reversals were occurring on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis, the rocks should contain a record of numerous reversals at best, or complete geomagnetic chaos at worst. As it is, they are almost all either purely normal or purely reversed in polarity.

    My conclusion is that the rapid, short-duration geomagnetic reversals found in some lava flows and advocated by the Humphreys’ model never occurred. Field and laboratory evidence show us that almost all of these basalts erupted, flowed, and crystallized in times of stable geomagnetic polarity.

    • jlwile September 27, 2010 9:57 pm

      Kevin, I find it interesting that you say I am being “selective,” and then you choose to ignore the data in both these studies because you don’t like the idea of rapid reversals.

      As I said before, I put more faith in direct measurements than in measurements that require all sorts of assumptions, some of which are VERY questionable. The paleomagnetic measurements you put so much faith in not only require assumptions when it comes to measuring the intensity of the field, but they also require assumptions with regard to the age of the strata. Since many of the assumptions are highly questionable, it is more reasonable scientifically to concentrate on measurements that require no questionable assumptions.

      I agree that a good test of Humphreys’s model is how it reproduces real-world measurements, and the real-world measurements confirm it brilliantly. All direct measurements of the earth’s magnetic field for 200 years are precisely what Humphrey’s model predicts. In addition, all measured planetary magnetic fields are precisely what Humphreys’s model predicts. In addition, the Humphreys model is the ONLY one that has been confirmed by so much data. That clearly makes it the best model, at least from a scientific viewpoint. You can choose to ignore the model because of your desire to believe in something else, but doing so is definitely not the best means of doing science.

      The super-rapid reversals are precisely what is seen in these two data sets. You do not seem to like the data, so you seem to want to ignore them. I personally choose to follow the data, so I won’t ignore them.

      I agree that the record of reversals are the exception, but that is precisely what you expect if the reversals are rapid. After all, if the reversals are rapid, you will not catch them in the act very often. However, if so many reversals were slow (as the dynamo theory says), we should see lots of them in the act. The fact that we don’t is more evidence that they were rapid.

      My conclusion is that the Humphreys model been confirmed over and over again by direct measurement, and the record of reversals that we see are exactly what you expect if the reversals were many and rapid over a short period of time, as expected by the Humphreys model. In addition, what we see in the geomagnetic record is precisely opposite of what you would expect for the dynamo model.

  5. Kevin N September 27, 2010 9:54 pm

    My final paragraph needs a little re-wording:

    My conclusion is that the rapid, short-duration geomagnetic reversals advocated by the Humphreys never occurred. Field and laboratory evidence show us that almost all of these basalts erupted, flowed, and crystallized during lengthy times of stable geomagnetic polarity. Flows that record a portion of a geomagnetic reversal are very rare.

  6. John Chaikowsky October 3, 2010 4:04 pm

    This is off subject, but you mentioned that Answers in Genesis had “theology leaves a lot to be desired”. What do you mean by that or what examples do you have that you don’t agree with?

    Just curious.

    • jlwile October 3, 2010 4:39 pm

      Thanks for the question, John. Answer in Genesis believes that the ONLY way to interpret Scripture faithfully is to say that the Genesis days were 24-hour days and that the earth is young. This is nonsense, of course, since some of the best theologians of the past and present use other interpretations, and since a 24-hour day wasn’t the exclusive view of the early church. This desire to force Christians to believe in a young earth puts them in some very shaky theological waters. For example, they claim that the idea of no animal death before the Fall is crucial for Christianity, when at best it is extraBiblical.

      Now please note that I do believe the days in Genesis were 24-hour days and that the earth is young. However, I do not think it is the only orthodox way to interpret Scripture, and it is certainly not the only way to have a literal view of Scripture.

  7. WebMonk October 6, 2010 9:43 am

    jwilie, I think you are missing some of what Kevin N is saying.

    For example, the lava flows he mentions – as he said, the vast majority of them show a normal or reverse magnetic orientation meaning the cooled down while the magnetic field was consistently pointing a certain direction, and only only a few of them showing a reversal in action, meaning they cooled down while a reversal was happening.

    However, all those flows would have happened during the Flood (in a relatively short time – a few months) and according to the Flood view of polarity reversals, there were hundreds of reversals going on during the Flood, roughly every day a reversal happened.

    And yet, only a very few of those lava flows show a reversal in action, while the vast majority of them show the field fully set one direction or another. If the magnetic field really were reversing every day or every other day, the vast majority of the flows would show reversals happening, or magnetic confusion from several reversals happening while the lava cooled, but that’s not what is seen.

    • jlwile October 6, 2010 3:19 pm

      WebMonk, thanks for your comment, but I don’t think you and Kevin see the magnetic reversals properly in a young-earth context. The reversals do not happen every day. As Aig states

      Thus, these reversals of the earth’s magnetic field have to be envisaged as occurring on average every week or two during the Flood year.

      Humphreys gets that rate specifically by looking at how many reversals are recorded in rock and assuming those took place during the Flood. So in the end, it is very easy to understand why most igneous rock records only one polarity or another in the context of the Flood model. However, if the timing of the lava flow and the reversal is just right, you will see the reversal actually taking place as the lava cools. You would not expect that AT ALL if the reversal took the kind of time that the dynamo theory predicts. However, you do see it, albeit rarely. Even though you see it only rarely, the fact that you see it at all lends support to the young-earth view and is evidence against the old-earth view.

  8. Kevin N October 6, 2010 5:15 pm

    Dr. Wile:

    I think I understand what the YEC geologists are trying to say: lots of lava flows, most of which just happen to crystallize entirely within week-long periods of geomagnetic stability. However, thick lava flows don’t crystallize quickly enough for this to work, and the model suffers from a critical shortcoming of most of YEC geology: too many events, too little time.

    Thin lava flows observed at volcanoes typically take days or weeks to completely crystallize. The only way to crystallize the lava more quickly is to have it flow into water, but that completely changes the texture of the rock and the overall character of the flow.

    The basalt lava flows we are discussing here, however, are quite thick—mostly in the tens of meters—and did not cool and crystallize in just a week. This was my point when I discussed the Kilauea Iki lava lake, which had similar thickness to the larger flows and took decades to crystallize. For the most part, these flows did not crystallize under water, but flowed freely over the land surface, in some cases up to 600 km. There are places where field evidence shows that the lava flowed into smaller bodies of water, such as lakes or streams, but the overall character of the flows is terrestrial. If the Humphreys geomagnetic theory were correct, virtually all of the flows should show evidence of geomagnetic reversals occurring, and they do not.

    The Columbia River Basalt (CRB) Group consists of as many as 270 individual flows. Many of these show evidence of the passage of time between eruptions, such as sedimentary deposits and deep weathering and soil formation. If these eruptions occurred during the flood, they occurred late in the flood year, as once has to account for all the Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic sediments that are stratigraphically lower.

    A current trend in YEC geology is to put the Cenozoic (such as the Steens Mountain flows and the CRB) into a period of post-catastrophic residual catastrophism. This doesn’t help the YEC position, however, as 200,000 cubic kilometers of basaltic magma in 200+ individual flows won’t erupt, cool, crystallize, and weather in a few hundred years any more than it would in a few months at the end of the flood.

    Humphreys focuses on the record of geomagnetic change within an individual flow, but his model completely fails to explain the big picture geomagnetic record of these massive “flood basalt” groups.

    • jlwile October 6, 2010 5:35 pm

      Kevin, I understand your point, but you are suffering from the critical shortcoming that exists in most old-earth geology. You assume things either have to happen slowly, or if they don’t happen slowly, it will be easy to tell. Unfortunately, this narrow way of thinking just doesn’t work in reality. I agree that if the lava flows formed according to your unverified assumptions, you would expect lots of records of magnetic reversals in progress. However, the Flood model doesn’t follow those unverified assumptions. If you want to evaluate what to expect in the YE model, you have to actually think in terms of the YE model.

      For example, if you want to determine what to expect in the CRB when it comes to magnetic reversals according to the YE magnetic field model, you must first analyze the CRB from a YE perspective. According to such analysis, the evidence suggests “rapid extrusion, rapid cooling, and rapid succession of lava flows. Field evidences also indicate that the lavas were extruded under water.” This, of course, shows why the “magnetic confusion” you suggest is not expected in the YE view.

  9. WebMonk October 6, 2010 8:53 pm

    Lava cooling rates are pretty well verified, lots and lots of examples to look at today, both in and out of water. The thickness of the flows is known, and so it’s pretty basic math to figure out how long it took the flows seen in the CRB to cool down.

    What part of that is “unverified assumption”? What is being left out that the YEC view takes into account?

    You mentioned “rapid cooling”. How would that happen? The CRB didn’t flow into water for the most part, so most would take months to years to cool, easily long enough to capture lots and lots of reversals even if only happening once a week.

    However, that is never seen. How is that explained?

    How is it explained that those 270 flows show no evidence of being cooled by water (aside from chunks cooled by lakes or streams) while they are supposed to have come out in the middle of a Flood?

    Kevin mentioned soil forming (as opposed to being deposited) in between flows. How does that happen during a Flood?

    What is being left out of that picture that a YEC view takes into account which allows all that to happen in such a short amount of time?

    You mentioned that there are things Kevin is leaving out, but you never mentioned what they are.

    • jlwile October 7, 2010 8:30 am

      WebMonk, the main unverified assumption is that you can tell when lava cooled underwater and when it didn’t. Others see that the CRB cooled underwater, which would produce rapid cooling. You and Kevin claim it didn’t. When I look at both positions, I cannot decide who is correct. Thus, it seems to me that both are working under unverified assumptions.

      You claim, “However, that is never seen.” That’s 100% false. This whole post is about TWO such cases where it is seen. Once again, these cases are very easy to understand in the YE view and very hard to understand in the OE view.

      You say, “Kevin mentioned soil forming (as opposed to being deposited) in between flows. How does that happen during a Flood?” Once again, you are using unverified assumptions. You think you can tell the difference between when soil forms in a position and when it is deposited. I don’t see enough evidence to assume that you can do that.

  10. Kevin N October 6, 2010 11:02 pm

    I’ll take a closer look at the Woodmorappe and Oard article on the Columbia River Basalts (CRB) you referred to. My initial impression, as one who is somewhat familiar with the CRB, is not at all positive.

    For example, they refer to “a significant number of pillow lavas” in the CRB. Pillow lavas are pillow-shaped features formed when lava flows into water. Pillow lavas are not rare in the CRB, but are certainly not a dominant feature, and some flows lack them altogether. When present, they are generally found at the base or margins of lava flows, indicating that the lava flowed into water on the Earth’s surface, such as into lakes or streams. This is confirmed by the presence of freshwater (not marine as the authors say) fossils in the lake and stream sediments the lava flowed into. If the lava flows had been extruded under water, as the authors suggest, there ought to be pillow structures on the tops of the flows, but there are none as far as I know. There is no evidence that any of the flows on the Columbia Plateau were extruded subaqueously.

    There are other, factual problems with the article that I won’t go into here. I read it and shook my head a number of times. This isn’t a worldview “you’ve just got to think like a YEC in order to understand” issue. The authors misrepresent some of the articles they footnote, and simply don’t seem to understand the implications of what they so confidently assert.

    • jlwile October 7, 2010 8:53 am

      Kevin, I appreciate your analysis of the article. Since I am not a geologist, I can miss things that a geologist wouldn’t. Thus, your discussion helps me evaluate the article more reasonably. I especially appreciate how you explain the pillowing issue. If pillowing is what you expect from lava flowing into water, then you would expect it to be both on the top and on the bottom of the lava if it were completely underwater. These kinds of facts help me to investigate the issue more thoroughly. Once again, however, I am skeptical that you can definitely determine when lava cools quickly and when it doesn’t.

      I agree that this is not a worldview issue. However, you do need to judge the YE model in the context of the YE model. You keep making claims about what to expect in the YE model, but those claims are not correct, since you are not applying the YE model. You are applying OE concepts and then saying that’s what one expects in the YE model. That’s simply not reasonable.

  11. WebMonk October 7, 2010 9:30 am

    “However, that is never seen.” Is referring to the claim that the entirety of the CRB flowed out underwater. What IS seen are particular locations which look like they’ve flowed into water. What is NOT ever seen, even according to the AiG article, is that the entire thing was flowing out into water. They point to individual locations where PART of the flow shows evidence of flowing out underwater (and even those small areas only showed up in 1 in 10 or 15 of the locations, according to them).

    “the main unverified assumption is that you can tell when lava cooled underwater and when it didn’t.”
    I’m not sure why you say that when the entire article is based on the premise that one CAN tell when lava flows out underwater compared to on land. They even point out the typical formation which forms when lava flows underwater – pillowing.

    And then there are the obviously non-underwater formation which are found throughout the CRB – lava plateaus, lava breakouts, tumuli formations, inflated sheet flows, and more. (an aside on the inflated sheet flows – you can see how long it took them to cool/inflate/cool/inflate pretty easily, and some of the inflated sheet flows in the CRB took years to stop their cooling/inflation pattern, and the inflated sheet flows absolutely cannot form underwater)

    As for the evidence of soil forming between the flows, are you really arguing that people can’t tell the difference? Really? Kevin might want to give a more complete description of the differences, but I can give you at least a brief one.

    Especially between the Grande Ronde basalt and the Wanapum basalt flows, there is quite obviously quite a bit paleosol and fossil soil. There are areas found between other flows, but the GR and Wanapum flows have the most. There are thick layers of soil (now solidified into rock) which were obviously not laid down by any sort of flood waters – the soils have old stream beds in them, there are entire environments mostly intact with root structures still in place, there are root tracings in the soil, there is different coloration from the chemical changes caused by growing plants, there are different types of borders between layers. Paleosols have a much different pH, and have different chemical content than a sedimentary deposition. You can do x-ray diffraction studies to look at the type of crystalline structure is present, which again, is very different than the structure of sediments.

    Paleosols and fossil soils are pretty easy to identify. They are found all over the world too, in layers that are supposed to be laid down by the Flood. It’s not just the CRB where they are found – there are thousands of locations all around the globe where layers are present that show intact and growing environments and soil. According to Flood geology, there shouldn’t be any – the Flood came along with enough volume and force to scour the entire earth down for MILES thick of soil and rock rushing around at speeds over 100 MPH and then started laying the sediment back down, again miles thick. There shouldn’t be a single instance of paleosol anywhere. There shouldn’t be a single evidence of subaerial formation of anything anywhere. Certainly not in between lava flows which are supposed to have come out during the Flood over the course of mere weeks.

    But, instead, they are there, and they’re all over the world.

    • jlwile October 7, 2010 3:41 pm

      Webmonk, thank you for clarifying your remark. I think you miss my point on the article. The fact is that you cannot determine whether or not the lava flowed underwater. You can develop evidence one way or another, but that is it. Since the evidence is subject to heavy interpretation, there is simply no way to determine conclusively which side is correct. That’s my point. Both sides look at evidence, interpret it heavily, and come to a conclusion. You claim, for example, that “lava plateaus, lava breakouts, tumuli formations, inflated sheet flows, and more” show that the lava did not flow underwater. However, geologists have made claims before about a certain feature telling us precisely how the rock was formed, and then later they were shown to be wrong. I understand that YOU think the evidence is incontrovertible. Certainly not all geologists do.

      Yes, I seriously do say that it is hard to believe we can determine whether or not soil was formed or deposited between the flows. This article, for example, examines two paleosols and shows how they are consistent with Flood geology. Once again, your claim that “According to Flood geology, there shouldn’t be any” is simply false. Flood geology explains the characteristics of these two paleosols quite nicely.

  12. Kevin N October 7, 2010 10:32 am

    Dr. Wile:

    It is possible to determine in general how quickly a lava flow cooled.

    As determined by both laboratory studies and field studies of modern lava flows, the primary determinant of crystal size in a lava flow is the rate at which it crystallizes. When a lava cools very quickly, such as when it comes into contact with water, there is insufficient time for ions to diffuse through the lava solution and the result is a glassy texture (e.g. obsidian). The individual pillows in a pillow basalt have glassy rinds, with a fine-grained crystalline core. The interior cools more slowly, as it is not in direct contact with water, so there is time for distinct (though still microscopic) crystals to form. When the lava has even more time to crystallize, crystals grow larger. (There are other factors involved: rate of formation of nucleation sites, amount of undercooling of the lava, ion diffusion rates; but the rate of cooling seems to dominate).

    How would I apply the YE model to this? Unless we somehow modify the laws of chemistry and physics during the flood (which mainstream YECs don’t want to do), we have to account for 200,000 km3 of basalt erupting, flowing, and crystallizing under water, very late in the flood, with no evidence that the tops of the flows were ever in contact with water.

    This will be my last comment, unless you specifically ask me a question.

    • jlwile October 7, 2010 3:46 pm

      Kevin, your defense of how you determine the rate at which lava flows demonstrates my point completely. You admit that there are other factors, but under CURRENT laboratory conditions and CURRENT lava flows, the rate of cooling is the primary factor. I expect that is true. However, the conditions of the Flood are not the kind of conditions we see in the lab or in nature right now. As a result, the other factors could quite possibly play a much heavier role in the size of crystal formation than they do under the conditions that geologists have tested and observed. I am not asking you to “somehow modify the laws of chemistry and physics.” I am simply asking you to apply the YE model appropriately. Since there are MANY factors involved in determining crystal size, and since the conditions of the Flood were SIGNIFICANTLY different from what we see now, you cannot simply hold all those factors constant and claim that what we see today mirrors what happened in the Flood.