Catastrophic Caves: Untold Secrets of Planet Earth by Vance Nelson

Untold Secrets of Planet Earth Publishing Co., 2020

Book review

Reviewed by 


Vance Nelson’s latest book is impressive and like his previous works, contains a lot of original research accompanied with really beautiful pictures. A lot of time has gone into research and his photographic efforts. The book is written in an engaging and non-technical manner, and Vance took care to define his terms for lay readers.


  • First 22 pages: The Science: Introduction to caverns, how old are they, and how the flood is the key to their formation.
  • Section 1: Rapid mineral formation in mines and industries
  • Section 2: Rapid mineral formations in mineral springs
  • Section 3: Rapid mineral formations in natural and man-carved caverns
  • He starts by introducing us to caverns. What are they, how do they form, and what do secular geologists believe about them, which of course is the belief that they formed slowly over millions of years. Vance introduces an alternative biblical creation model for rapid cavern formation as well as a model for understanding how quickly speleothems can form. The older model for carving of caverns through weak carbonic acid is now recognised to be inadequate. Instead, the action of sulphuric acid is now realised to be important, during both the late stages of the Flood and immediately afterwards. In addition, lots of water and a rich calcium bicarbonate solution is the key to the rapid formation of speleothems. The wet and humid early post-flood climate would have sped up the formation of these geological features and with the decline of the ice age 700 years after the Flood, the accompanying desertification would have left caverns today far drier than they used to be, with current speleothem processes much slower today than what they would have been in the past.

    Vance also covers radiometric dating of speleothems ( 234U/230Th) and explains why the method is unreliable and based on assumptions that we know are false. Next, he refutes a commonly cited skeptical argument that claims that the calcite structures that form on concrete today are different from what we see in cavern speleothems. Vance demonstrates that this is false: in old concrete, the chemical processes are often identical to cavern speleothems. Vance does not stop with man-made structures but goes on to show that calcite formations in many caverns around the world are very rapid.

    The book then takes us around the world where we are introduced to many different caverns, mines, sewers, and mineral springs, and even man-made caverns that show massive amounts of calcite structures forming in a relatively short period. In all these cases, a lot of water, rich minerals, and short periods of time are key to understanding their formation.

    Man-made structures

    Space does not allow a complete list of all the examples listed in this book, but some of the more impressive ones include a knock-off figure resembling ‘Spider-man’ and other man-made artefacts that have been encased in calcite; an entire ‘cave’ system forming inside of a 19th-century sewer in just over 120 years, a tree root system that is becoming permineralized in real-time, and beautiful blue-green cave deposits (copper-rich) in a cavern that has encased a beam of timber in the last 120 years. Vance also includes pictures of a dog that was stuffed by its owners and then left in mineralized water for three years, turning it into a ‘stone dog’. There are quarries from the mid-1900s that used to preserve animals by taxidermy by turning them into ‘stone’, and Vance even includes behind the scene photos explaining how beautiful calcite artefacts and artistic plaques from all around the world are made and sold as souvenirs.

    The rapid deposition of both natural as well as man-made cavern deposits contradicts the claim that cavern structures take long periods of time to form. Rather, they confirm what biblical creationists have said—lots of water and a calcium bicarbonate solution is the key to producing speleothems. This fits with biblical history perfectly, but it is extremely problematic for old-earth creationists who insist that it takes a thousand years for 1 cm of calcite deposit to form in caverns.

    Vance also mentions carbon dating, and how fossils throughout the geologic column contain carbon-14 with the same dates, demonstrating that they were all alive and buried at the same time—a huge problem for those who believe in long ages or evolution since these fossils should not contain any carbon-14 if they were that old. C-14 dates from these fossils demonstrate that they were all formed in a single event—the worldwide Flood just a few thousand years ago.

    Vance Nelson’s photography is simply stunning and the majority of it is completely original.

    The book concludes with a strong emphasis on why we have to start with the Word of God and it ends with a short Gospel presentation.


    Once again, Vance has produced an engaging, even exciting book for believers and skeptics alike. The book follows the same overall style as his previous books—starting with a discussion of important issues and concepts, and then showing beautiful photos from all around the world to back his point. This is the 5th book in his Untold Secrets of Planet Earth series. If it is even half as popular as his previous efforts it is sure to be a best-seller. (Catastrophic Cave is now available through our webstore).

    Published: 21 July 2020

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