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This article is from
Creation 9(1):16, December 1986

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Coal beds and Noah’s Flood part 2


Evolutionists suggest that coal beds were formed at various times millions of years ago in quiet swamp environments. Evolutionary geologists say the creationist explanation which uses a single worldwide flood only a few thousand years ago is not adequate to explain the formation of the world’s coal seams. In a previous issue of Creation 8(3):20-21 we began answering these objections (See Coal beds and Noah’s Flood). Here we look at further answers to these objections. The Illinois Basin (USA) contains 80 coal seams separated by thick sequences of sedimentary rock. So we would need to have had 80 biblical floods here alone.
wikipedia.org point-aconi-seam
Bituminous coal bed is exposed between rock layers at Point Aconi, Nova Scotia.

Dr Steven Austin1 has proposed an explanation for the formation of multiple coal beds separated by other sedimentary rocks. He originally presented this in his Ph.D. thesis at the prestigious Penn State University in 1979. Dr Austin’s explanation shows that such seams can be formed from huge mats of buoyant vegetable debris floating on the waters during the violent watery catastrophe of Noah’s Flood. The vegetation, including whole forests, had been ripped up by raging flood waters. We see this on a small scale even today in local floods, which are capable of producing floating islands of vegetation and/or vegetable debris (e.g. in the Amazon River basin of South America).

As the bark, leaves, twigs and logs in such mats became waterlogged, they sank to the sea floor beneath to be buried and ultimately to form coal beds. Other sediments were then washed in by the waters beneath the floating mats to cover these beds of vegetation. Further vegetable material in the mats continued to become waterlogged and to sink, and a depositional cycle of events was established. This explanation can easily account for multiple coal beds stacked between other sediments, both fossiliferous and non-fossiliferous.

As the bark, leaves, twigs and logs in such mats became waterlogged, they sank to the sea floor beneath to be buried and ultimately to form coal beds.

Dr Austin has now expanded his original research. He has found by extensive additional research on coal seams across the USA that his floating vegetable debris model is consistent with the evidence throughout the United States, even in the Illinois Basin with its 80 stacked coal beds. Similar research is under way in Australia, and already we know that Dr Austin’s model can be applied—with the addition of volcanism as a factor both in destruction of forests and deposition of vegetable debris, logs and ash layers—to the important Newcastle coalfield on the central coast of New South Wales.

We confidently expect that this floating vegetable debris model will virtually have universal application, along with variations such as the role of volcanism, as research continues on coal beds in sedimentary basins worldwide.

The evolutionists’ objection based on the occurrence of multiple stacked coal beds in sedimentary basins worldwide is thus invalid. One Noah’s Flood can account for all the sediment layers in these basins.

References and notes

  1. At the time this article was published Dr Austin was research geologist at the Institute for Creation Research, San Diego (USA). Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Bryant G.
I would say the presence of carbon 14 would be enough if they were in all the coal seam strata layers. I disagree that they need to be all uniform as accelerated nuclear reactions from lava flows and heated rock at different temperatures may cause some variance. I would be nice if all the layers were uniform, but I don't think it's a requirement. I think that the RATE group did find carbon 14 in various coal beds so that puts a smile on my face.
Doug L.
I wonder if anyone has sampled these multiple layers of coal for Carbon 14? I would expect to see similar percents of modern carbon for all the layers. This would be strong proof of the fact they were all laid down at the same time and in the recent past by one flood event. Not that anyone in the evolution-believing community would pay any attention I suppose but it would be more reassurance to Christians who are having doubts about biblical chronology.

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