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Is the geologic column with its millions of years essential for mineral exploration?

Published: 19 October 2014 (GMT+10)
Wiki Commons Exploration_geologist

Ron B. from Canada asks about long ages and geological exploration.

I have a friend who works closely with geologists in conjunction with the mining industry. The geologists told him that if they did not go by the millions of years and the geologic column it would be a lot harder to find uranium. It doesn’t seem to me that either of those things is necessary to find uranium. I’m thinking that they would use seismology among other kinds of technology. Is there some information you could offer me to help my friend?

CMI’s geologist  responds:

Hi Ron,

You are right that geologists use technology to do their geological exploration. One of the most basic techniques is to observe the rocks in the field and plot the different kinds of rocks on a map. This would be the easiest, cheapest and most fundamental method of geological exploration. We also use magnetic methods, either on the ground or airborne. Other methods include aerial photography, seismic exploration, drill cores, gravity anomalies, and electrical methods. Plus we sample rocks from the surface and from drill cores to analyse their mineral content for resource potential. As you can see, all these techniques depend on making observations and measurements in the present and none of them gives any direct measurement of millions of years.

The geologists believe that the labels on the column represent the actual time that has elapsed, but that is a belief based on the assumption of uniformitarianism.

One part of the exploration program is to construct models of what the rocks look like under the earth. We may do this by developing geological cross sections from maps, by building three dimensional computer models from seismic recordings, and by applying deposition models for sediments that are based on sea level rising and falling. (The last mentioned technique, ‘sequence stratigraphy’, does have a long–age assumption built into it, but that is not particularly significant to the method, which is basically a geometric method.) In all these methods time is irrelevant in the analysis. It’s mostly about rock strata, type of rock, rock distribution, and geometry.

One of the tools that geologists use to document their observations is the geological column. This is essentially a classification system, and in crude terms it could be compared to different drawers in a filing cabinet. (Over the years the number of drawers in the cabinet has changed, as well as the labels on the drawers.) From exploration in the field, geologists will decide where the rocks belong on the column. Some will be placed in slots toward the top of the column while others will be placed lower down. As exploration proceeds and new information is uncovered, geologists may change the slot where certain rocks are placed. The geological column is used as a legend on geological maps, and is very useful to see what has already been discovered about an area, and as a springboard for further work.

Connecting the information to Noah’s Flood would better reflect what actually happened to form the geology of the earth.

All the drawers on the column are labelled in terms of millions of years, and this is what the geologists were probably thinking about, who spoke to your friend. The geologists believe that the labels on the column represent the actual time that has elapsed, but that is a belief based on the assumption of uniformitarianism. If we changed the time labels it would make very little difference to the quality and usefulness of the information.

The fact is that the geology of the earth was mainly formed as a result of the Noah’s Flood catastrophe. Geologists do careful exploration and the geological column preserves their findings and reflects a general Flood order, but with many exceptions. The million–year dates assigned to the different parts of the column should really be changed to represent the actual time involved in Noah’s Flood. This article The geological column is a general Flood order with many exceptions explains the relationship.

Example of a geological map and interpreted cross section with different rock types shown as different colours. In this example the legend shows the timing of the rocks with respect to Noah’s Flood. (Click for larger image.)

In summary, none of the exploration techniques demand that the rocks be millions of years old. However, because the geological information presented is labelled in terms of millions of years, these labels have become part and parcel of the geologists’ thinking. Interestingly, the time labels on the geological column are continually being changed, with the new numbers coordinated by a group called the International Commission on Stratigraphy. They regularly revise their charts with the latest dates on it (for the latest chart see the Commission Website.)

So, there is no problem changing the date labels on the geologic column; geologists are still able to do their exploration work. So the labels could be changed to numbers that would represent a Flood time sequence. That too would require a global coordination effort among geologists, and that would be quite an amazing global development. With the new time labels exploration would not be adversely affected. Geologists would just need to adjust to the new numbers.

By connecting the time information on the column to Noah’s Flood the geological column would better reflect what actually happened to form the geology of the earth. It would have the effect of helping geologists better picture the processes involved, which in turn would stimulate ideas that would make their exploration programs more effective.

All the best,

Tas Walker

Helpful Resources

Exploring Geology with Mr Hibb
by Michael Oard, Tara Wolfe, Chris Turbuck
US $12.00
Rock Solid Answers
by Michael J Oard, John K Reed
US $20.00

Readers’ comments

Rhonda D.
I have noted statements by evolutionary geologists that there are places on earth bearing no stratfication or other evidence of a "worldwide flood." Is this true?
Tas Walker
There are certain geologic interpretations that evolutionary geologists invoke that are not compatible with the global Flood, such as glacial deposits, evaporites, and desert deposits. On closer examination these interpretations are found to be problematic, with the evidence pointing instead to large-scale watery catastrophe.
Matt S.
In effect, don't we already, as creationists, unchain the millions of years from the secular nomenclature? Oard argues that we need to go back and re-classify basically every layer according to something like his flood criteria. From this, theoretically, we could determine the relative timing of deposition for layers within the flood year, as well as before and after. However, his method seems unable to actually lend us information about the depositional timing of each actual layer relative to others. Are the assumptions in secular dating methods wholly untrustworthy to where we can't use them for micro classification? Should we not use the best parts of both worlds? For example, should we use the most scientific methods of secularists (I am not saying that they own the methods-we all own good science) and observation to micro classify, but use flood criteria to macro classify? Thank you CMI for all your intellectual integrity!
Tas Walker
There are a number of principles/criteria that can be used to work out the relative timing of geologic units within the Flood year. Most of the methods used by long-age geologist are useful, but they always need to have a critical eye cast over them to make sure their conclusions make sense. See the comment by James A. of the United States.
James A.
As explained on page 251 of Rational Conclusions [link deleted per feedback rules]:

[T]here is a myth among evolutionists that the geologic time scale must be correct because petroleum companies make use of it to find oil.[1999] [2000] What believers in this lore fail to realize is that the fossils employed in oil exploration are generally devoid of "chronological significance." In a book published by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, a specialist in this field explains that "perhaps 90%" of such work is done by correlating fossils “that are not unique in time,” and, it betrays a "lack of understanding" to suppose that they are. He also states that failures to grasp this are “all too numerous” and summarizes the situation in very concrete terms:

"Thus more than two dozen [strata of fossils] can be used for correlation in and around the Ventura Avenue Oil Field, yet are worthless twenty miles away."[2001]

Documentation for the above footnotes is available in Rational Conclusions citations [link deleted per feedback rules]
Stephen D.
I have been waiting for such an article... Thanks! With current erosion rates and only having a few thousand years, I wonder if the assumption of millions of years actually causes some mineral potential exploration to be completely overlooked...
Rolf A.
Why has not the correct timeline already been assigned to the geological column?

Isn't there a problem with the scientifc theory of continental drif, subduction and heaven knows what not in the sicentific toolbox - how can all that be sorted out to make a true geological timelinefor all of the earth?

BTW, isn't it rather strange how the oil industry still insist on using the false, scientific theories in oil exploration, and how come it has been so succesful?

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavour to revolutionize geology. If you succed with that, the theory of evolution will of course fall with it.
Tas Walker
1. Geological column. Search for those keywords on this site to find relevant articles.
2. Continental drift. Again, search for those keywords, or "plate tectonics" to find discussion on this issue. The basic problem is that the geology of the earth is an enormous topic to research, we have very limited information, and mainstream geology has been saddled with the wrong interpretive framework.
3. Yes, the oil industry can find oil because, as the above article says, they use techniques that are more related to the physical characteristics of the rocks. Evolutionary philosophy is largely irrelevant, but in some circumstances it does lead geologists down the wrong path.
4. Thanks for your best wishes. People's thinking will change as information is made available, which is the reason so much material is made available for free on
Alan S.
So the geological column is not set in stone!

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