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Catastrophic Caves: Untold Secrets of Planet Earth by Vance Nelson

Untold Secrets of Planet Earth Publishing Co., 2020

Book review

Reviewed by 

Published: 21 July 2020 (GMT+10)

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).

    Helpful Resources

    Catastrophic Caves
    by Vance Nelson
    US $32.00
    Hard Cover
    Dire Dragons
    by Vance Nelson
    US $32.00
    Hard Cover
    Flood Fossils
    by Vance Nelson
    US $32.00
    Hard Cover
    Monumental Monsters
    by Vance Nelson
    US $32.00
    Hard Cover
    Amazon Expedition
    by Vance Nelson
    US $14.00
    Soft Cover
    The Cave Book
    by Emil Silvestru
    US $16.00
    Soft Cover

    Readers’ comments

    Karen T.
    Ebook please
    Gary Bates
    Note, we are not the publisher so it would be best to ask them directly. But in my view it would be a shame to view a stunning book like this in an eFormat only. It's an incredibly beautiful, hard cover, coffee table/style book
    Aaron L.
    I clicked on the book Catastrophic Caves and noticed that your ad says that we can save $29 by purchasing them all. My calculation shows that it is $11 dollars difference.
    I enjoy your ministry. Thank you for all you do.
    Gary Bates
    Here's the link to the pack.
    David G.
    I see Amazon doesn't carry it. Wondering if it's too controversial for their presuppositions! Who is the publisher and where might we get the book? Thanks.
    Gary Bates
    Did you check our webstore? Notice on the right hand side of the article we carry all his other books. Here's the store link.
    John C.
    So, one is led to wonder if the godless Darwinian evolutionists decide the science involved with this rapid process is accurate, then they must follow their godless guides and accept it as well. This would pretty well certify who the god, or at least the guide, of old-earth creationists really is.
    Beky S.
    Why does every thing have to be explained by unreasonably fast process such as the geological Calum that is up too 6000 ft deep forming in just a few months that sounds too insain.and all the mountians forming so quickly all those tectonics would have made waves hundreds of feet tall and would have destroyed the earth and all the super volcanoes going off so fast that would have destroyed the earth and then all the water eroding thousands of feet of sediments when the flood retreated this sound very far fetched and then so much snow that it created thousands of feet of ice in the ice age in just 500 years and finally all the topography being created so quickly ...is there any thing wrong with uniformatism and geology can they explaine mountans forming and other processes easier it seems soo and i need help because so far it seems like thats the case is there a lot of solid evidence for so many extremely catastrophic processes creating the topography because it seems unreasonable that every thing was created with catastrophic processes
    Joel Tay
    There are significant issues with uniformitarianism. First of all, it contradicts the word of God, which not only tell us that the world is ~6,000 years old, but it also tells us that there was a worldwide Flood in Noah’s day. Such a Flood would not only have created the conditions required for the formation of the geologic layers, and a post-Flood ice age, but it would also mean that uniformitarian geology which excludes the Flood cannot be true. Remember: the supposed millions of years are an interpretation of the rock layers, which are assumed to have accumulated over millions of years. But if there is a worldwide Flood, then those rock layers are not millions of years old, and uniformitarian geology needs to be discarded.

    Second, the science is in conflict with uniformitarian geology. E.g. the Flood is the only mechanism that would allow us to explain the Ice Age, but it is a major challenge for uniformitarianism. Flat gaps in the geological record is another huge issue for that can only be explained if they were laid down in the Flood. In a similar fashion, Vance Nelson demonstrates in this book that contrary to the uniformitarian idea that these cave formations take millions of years to form, observable science tells us they form quickly and would have even been faster just after the Flood. E.g. he shows pictures of man-made sewers with the same ‘cave’-like formations forming. As for mountains forming rapidly, again, the evidence supports the biblical creation model which would have a lot of these rock layers being pushed up very rapidly during and soon after the Flood (Psalm 104:8). This is evident by the degree in which many rock layers are found (folded or warped). These rock layers were warped while they are still soft. Solid rock can only be bent slightly, but not to the degree that we see here, which requires that the layers were soft when rapidly folded—add more pressure to solid rock and it either cracks, or become metamorphic, but these are sedimentary rocks.
    I would encourage you to look through our website which has many articles that address the problems with uniformitarian geology and the rock layers. We even have a semi-technical book that addresses the geologic column. Here are some helpful articles dealing with the age of the Earth from science:
    Age of the Earth: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe.
    ‘Young’ age of the Earth & Universe Q&A.

    Ryan G.
    I'm so happy that there's another book! I absolutely love this series. The quality of the content, research, images and the book printing themselves are all outstanding!

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