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How do you explain caves?

Published: 25 August 2018 (GMT+10)

Today’s feedback is from B.V. asking about the formation of caves.

Greetings,

Would you please let me know if the Creation doctrine has an explanation of how caves formed? I believe it must have been at the time of the Flood.

Bernice V.

By Toby Hudson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.orgjenolan-cave
Imperial Cave at Jenolan Caves, NSW, Australia

CMI writer/speaker Dr Ron Neller responded:

Greetings Bernice and thank you for your email.

The geologic literature often describes limestone caves being “ … formed by the dissolution of limestone. Rainwater picks up carbon dioxide from the air and as it percolates through the soil, which turns into a weak acid (carbonic acid). This slowly dissolves out the limestone along the joints, bedding planes and fractures, some of which become enlarged enough to form caves.” (British Geological Society)

This may seem like a satisfactory answer, but it does not explain why limestone caves can be so deep. There is a good article on our website by international cave expert Dr Emil Silvestru that deals with this called Caves for all seasons. In this article you will read:

“To eat away the limestone, the water must be acidic. How does it get deep inside the rock without losing its acidity? Thousands of measurements show that by dissolving limestone, the water loses its acidity within some 10 metres of the surface. It is only possible for water to flow deep underground if it follows pre-existing conduits.”

In the geologic literature, scientists also frequently use the word “slowly” (I underlined that word above). The first few paragraphs of the article Caves and Age posted on our website state that slow-and-gradual dissolution is not how caves are formed.

So, if massive caves cannot form slowly, or deeply, how were they created?

You are correct to believe that they were primarily formed during the Flood. In Caves for all seasons Dr Silvestru argues that the conduits were formed by hydrothermal solution (HTS) associated with tectonic and volcanic processes. Once global upheaval largely ceased, surface processes started to reshape the caves—adding what Dr Silvestru suggests is the ‘final touch’.

Some good reading on how this was done is available on our website. A simple overview can be read in the article Limestone caves: a result of Noah’s Flood? There are other quite specific studies done on caves, such as Jenolan Caves in Australia. These articles can be quite detailed in their explanation.

But my simple reply Bernice is that you are quite correct to believe that caves were largely formed during Noah’s Flood, especially late in the falling stage of the Flood.

Blessings.

Dr Ron Neller
Scientist, Writer, Speaker

Helpful Resources

The Cave Book
by Emil Silvestru
US $16.00
Soft cover

Readers’ comments

John M.
Several years ago my wife and I were in Tasmania and while there we visited some caves. The tour guide of course told the required story of millions of years required for stalactites & stalagmites to form. At the end of the tour I enquired as to whether, given the right conditions, could they form quickly, to which he replied "Of course, we see it happen in the Mt Isa mines". After the short conversation he walked off as if he didn't want to be cornered.
It made me wonder whether anyone has experimented with creating a simulated version of how stalactites and stalagmites could happen in a short space of time given the conditions that would have occurred at the time of Noah's flood.
It would provide powerful evidence to evolutionists that millions of years are not required in a catastrophic flood. If it happens in Mt Isa mines it should be easy to replicate with all the right materials.
I have not yet read Dr Silvestru's book so this experiment may have already been done.
Tas Walker
There are many examples of rapid petrification from mineral rich waters, such as this one from the so-called Petrifying Well at Knaresborough, Yorkshire.
Here is an article about the rapid formation of stalagmites and stalactites.

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