Giant’s Causeway geology clarified for Earth Science Ireland

Geologist’s open letter on the Interbasaltic Bed

by

Published: 23 November 2014 (GMT+10)

Northern Ireland's only World Heritage site has become something of a battleground where believers in long-age evolution are fiercely resisting geological interpretations of the Giant's Causeway based on biblical history. Recently the geological magazine Earth Science Ireland published a fiery attack against biblical geology. Angus Kennedy, a geologist working in Northern Ireland, has responded in an open letter to the editor, Dr Tony Bazley, presenting geologic evidence that does not support the long age beliefs but is consistent with creation geology. Links to other articles on the Giant’s Causeway controversy are found under Related Articles. Angus Kennedy’s open letter is reproduced below.


Photo: Tas Walker giants-causeway
A glorious day for people to enjoy the Giant’s Causeway

Dr Tony Bazley
Editor, Earth Science Ireland
County Down
Northern Ireland

Dear Dr Bazley,

On recently leafing through a copy of the Spring 2014, Issue 15, Earth Science Ireland (ESI) magazine that had come my way, Stephen Moreton’s ‘Reading Between the (Basalt) Columns’ article caught my eye. In it he uses a supposed long formation time of the County Antrim laterite Interbasaltic Bed1 (IB) in an attempt to refute young-earth creationism, a position which many Christians (including some geologists like myself) accept as being clearly taught in the Bible, and consistent with the scientific evidence. I felt obliged to take pen to paper to correct some of the misleading information given in his article and to advance sound evidences for the rapid formation of the IB.

I met Dr Moreton twice in 2004 when he visited the quarry I was then based at to collect zeolites.2 I trust that if we have the opportunity to meet again, he may be willing to calmly discuss these issues without labelling my views as ‘absurd’ or ‘perverse’.

First of all, there is one point which Dr Moreton would surely agree with me on—that there is nobody that can take the end of any rate-based ‘tape measure’ (e.g., radiometric dating) from the present back to the time the IB was formed—science’s tape measure can only be extended into the past by using assumptions about rates, original starting conditions and processes. (One example of the sorts of assumptions involved in historical geology and which has recently been overturned is described later.) As a geologist and a Christian I am entirely happy with God’s tape measure, which he has kindly stretched out for us from the other end—from the time of creation, through the Flood to the present day—and which is based on observed history and that recorded in the Bible.

Moreton refers to the supposed slow rate of laterite formation solely in terms of what is observed today in the warm and humid tropics. With the world-wide judgement brought about by the global Flood that involved an unimaginable magnitude of tectonism and magmatism3 from the very outset and in its aftermath, there would have been plenty of heat and water available to produce rapid alteration and laterization of susceptible rocks, and that at a rate many orders of magnitude greater than is measured today. Moreton is also mistaken in his attempt to bolster his argument by associating laterite formation with the ‘excruciatingly slow’ weathering of historical monuments, for after all, only the most durable types of stone are selected for that purpose.

Photo: Angus Kennedy Toe-Flow-Breccia-lge
Figure 1. Brecciated (broken) vesicular (with holes) basalt enclosed in fine-grained laterite.

In my capacity as a geologist I have carried out geological appraisals involving exploratory drilling at a number of basalt quarries in the Province. The knowledge gained from this leads me to conclude that there is very good evidence for rapid laterite formation—quite the opposite of Moreton’s claims.

In one quarry, the IB is seen to be very much broken up, with clasts of vesicular basalt4 contained within a fine-grained brick-red laterite. This location in particular was brought to the attention of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, and geologist Mark Cooper visited it. He considered that it had been produced by lava flowing over wet ground, disrupting the base of the flow. Dr Alastair Ruffell, Queens University Belfast, examined a photograph of the exposure and concluded that, as the clasts were rounded, it was a toe-flow conglomerate. This shows that there was considerable disruption of the lava during emplacement. There is also abundant evidence of lava ploughing5 (actually more like bulldozing) where loose granular material had been pushed into banks and mounds.

At another quarry there is a thick (2–4m) heavily vesicularised laterite bed which also contains clasts. The clasts at this location are angular (see figure 1), indicating that violent brecciation6 had occurred.

During trial drilling at this location, a few thin (0.3–1.5 m) layers of pink lateritic basalt were encountered within the depth of a single 30-m-thick flow. More extensive occurrences of pink lateritic basalt were found below the IB during drilling at the first location at a later date, with a maximum thickness of 7.6 m logged in one of the boreholes. This indicates that hydrothermal alteration7 from the heat and water originally present in the magma occurred in the interior part of a flow, and that laterization is not exclusively associated with sub-aerial weathering.8

At a third quarry, laterised and highly vesicular basalt could be seen through the depth of three quarry benches over an extensive area. This feature (now no longer exposed due to flooding) was the result of volatiles streaming up through the basalt. It was certainly not the product of sub-aerial weathering from the top.

In summary, the above geological evidence points to:

  1. The presence of abundant heat and water during the emplacement of the material.
  2. The starting material being disrupted during emplacement and therefore susceptible to rapid alteration.
  3. Hydrothermal alteration, i.e., laterization, occurring within flow units.

In the Corlat Handbook for describing laterite profiles, Aleva (1993)9 sets out what an eminent group of earth scientists consider to be the “essential process parameters” for laterite formation. These are: high average temperature; high rainfall to promote leaching; high rate of percolation to allow the leachate to be flushed away; sufficient decaying organic matter (i.e., producing humic acid) to turn the percolating water into a chemically and physically aggressive fluid; and surface relief with a minimum slope in order to minimise erosion.

The tectonism and magmatism associated with the biblical world-wide Flood would have provided an abundant source of warm acid-bearing rain10 in its aftermath, which would produce hugely accelerated laterite formation in a very short period of time. This obviates the hook that long-agers are caught on of needing high precipitation, high percolation, but low relief, in order to account for the little or no erosion seen.

Photo: Ghosh and Maji, ref. 13 Gosh-Maji-laterite-erosion-gully
Figure 2. Gully eroded in laterite, Bengal, India.

Moreton then turns his attention to attacking two articles on the geology of the Giant’s Causeway which have been written from a creationist perspective by Dr Tasman Walker, a well known CMI author and speaker. In his attempt to rebut Walker’s point that the relatively uniform thickness (i.e., lack of erosion) of the IB argues for rapid formation prior to its subsequent capping and preservation by fresh basalt, he asks “why shouldn’t it be even11 [given] …the same climatic conditions over a large area of low relief, with the same underlying rock, for the same length of time”—a time Moreton believes to be 3 million years (Mitchell et al.12 give up to 1 million years, and recently a National Trust guide talked of 100,000 years of monsoon rains—take your pick). As shown by his mistaken monument analogy, Moreton appears not to appreciate the fact that laterite is a very weak material. Quarrymen exercise great care to exclude laterite and altered basalt as they both readily disintegrate and cause problems if inadvertently incorporated into finished product. Furthermore, laterite soils in tropical areas where the rainforest has been clear-felled are indeed weak and erosion prone, being easily scoured by monsoon rains into gullied badlands (figure 2).13 Gullies, large or small, do not feature over the large areas of laterite beds that I have seen exposed in the quarries. The presence of granular material loose enough to be bulldozed by advancing lava fronts also argues strongly against any such period of quiescence. Whether, 0.1 million years or 3 million years—how could such feats of non-erosion be achieved?

In dismissing Walker’s observation that the topography of the Lower Basalts is relatively even with an emphatic “False” Moreton appears to be confused, having himself only just appealed in his preceding paragraph to low relief for the evident lack of erosion of the IB.

Forming valleys in a volcanic terrain would not be the sole preserve of rivers. Rather, the varied morphology of basalt lava flows, assisted by faulting, would have undoubtedly expressed itself topographically during accumulation—a situation which would not preclude linear valley-like features on the scale seen. After all, most of the basalt is thought to have been emplaced via linear fissures. At one of the quarries previously referred to, the fan-shaped main flow had filled a broad depression in the underlying surface. Flow thickness varied between 3 m and 14 m around the edges, to 20 m in the centre. The nose of the flow forms a trap14 feature approximately 10 m in height.

In taking Walker to task regarding his point about the lack of roots, Moreton again appears unmindful an earlier statement of his own: “…the true soil layer [is] confined to the top few inches where nearly all the activity of life goes on, the lower layers being devoid of plant roots [emphasis added] and composed of an intensely leached, altered and hydrated remnant of the underlying rock [i.e., sterile laterite]”. Tropical rainforests on laterite are remarkably shallow rooted, growing as they do on what is only a thin soil layer. This is why slash and burn agriculture is so wasteful—the exposed soil quickly loses its fertility within a few years and never recovers, becoming prone to the erosion mentioned earlier. What any unbiased person should spot straight away, and consider to be truly remarkable, is the fact that there are no carbonised remains of any such rainforest to be seen, and which might reasonably be expected to have developed in the claimed long-age time-frame. Even Surtsey, in only five decades since it first appeared above the Arctic Ocean,15 appears to have bettered the growth found fossilised between the IB and succeeding lavas. That there is nothing more substantial than leaf impressions or pockets of lignite16 falsifies the long-age position.

Photo: Tas Walker Bell-Kennedy
A prominent exposure of the red Interbasaltic Bed beyond Giant’s Causeway alongside the path.

Moreton bangs on about his ‘facts’ while at the same time decrying the ‘faith’ of others, all the while adopting a position of authority he assumes 130 years of geological effort confers on him. What he himself entirely ignores is the faith that he himself places on his ‘facts’, particularly when so many of them have been completely overturned. Space precludes an extensive list (creation.com and similar websites are full of them), so I’ll give only one example.

Stoke’s Law is used in calculating the time it takes for various sizes of particle to settle by gravity through a fluid. In water, coarse sand-size particles settle rapidly while very fine particles such as clay settle very slowly. This is easily demonstrated by putting some clay in a gas jar filled with water, stirring it up and then timing how long it takes to settle. As much of the geological column consists of mudstone and shale, the slow settlement time of clay was taken as irrefutable evidence that still, deep water and long ages were absolute necessities for their formation. Schieber, Southard and Thaisen,17 in their 2007 paper, showed how clay particles, due to their intrinsically sticky properties, bind together in flowing water to form larger particles (flocs), which in turn clump into even larger lumps (floccules). The floccules then attached to the base of their specially designed racetrack flume to form migrating ripples. This completely overturns a foundational pillar of long ages that generations of geologists, including myself, were taught.

I can corroborate from personal observation the fact that clay does indeed drop out from fast moving water. In 2008 I watched while a 1.2-m-thick deposit of clay floc was cleaned from a settlement pond. The clay that produced this floc had been ground out of the IB in the floor of the quarry by heavy traffic and it ended up being washed into the lagoon. The flocculated clay had a sloppy chocolate–mousse-like colour and consistency. The iron oxide in the laterite also gave it a pinkish tint. It was a surprise to me at the time, that with a mountain at the back of the quarry and frequent heavy storm-water flows, that any clay at all had been deposited, never mind so much.

In our first exchange (my open letter to you in September 2008, and published on the CMI website) I objected to the anti-Christian and anti-creationist articles which were in the Spring 2008 issue of ESI. In your response, you were kind enough to reassure us that Earth Science Ireland would never publish anything that is anti-Christian. Moreton’s article appears to be at odds with your reassurance in regard to his characterisation of creationists as being highly deceptive and misleading. Is it not also disingenuous on his part to single out creationists for attack as if they were something other than Christian, and to relegate the Genesis account of creation and the global Flood to mere ‘biblical tales’ and the stuff of ‘myths and legends’. Such posturing is not merely an attack on creationists, but it is also a direct attack on the person and deity of Jesus Christ. The Bible affirms that he is God incarnate and both the Creator (John 1:1–3) and the Saviour of the World (1 John 4:14). He himself spoke directly about Noah and the Flood in his discourse on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:38; For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark… (KJ21)). It is no wonder that Moreton is happy to mollify Christians “who have no difficulty with either evolution or the age of the earth”, as he at least appreciates that in doing so they tacitly accept that the Son of God is less than omniscient regarding Noah, greatly undermining their position as a result.

The tone of Dr Moreton’s demonstrably weak attack on Dr Tasman Walker, and his thinly veiled attack on Christianity, again reflect poorly on your magazine. We can still live in the hope that in future ESI will encourage its contributors to adopt a less strident tone and a more considered approach to any future articles on this subject.

Yours sincerely,
Angus Kennedy

Update: On 17 November 2014, Angus Kennedy emailed this letter to Dr Tony Bazley, editor of Earth Science Ireland, who replied saying he appreciates the contribution. It just missed the current issue, which is at the printers, but will be in the following (Spring) issue. Dr Bazley expects he will have to trim the references somewhat but will try to put them online so people with an interest can check them out.

Update 2: On 25 November 2014, Dr Tony Bazely advised Angus Kennedy: "I have re-read your letter. It is an open letter already published and you do not ask me to print it in the magazine. Accordingly I will refer readers to the place that the letter has already been published. It is anyway too lengthy for the magazine. Sorry that I misunderstood the original note."

References and notes

  1. County Antrim is the county in Northern Ireland in which Giant’s Causeway is located. Laterite is a type of soil, rich in iron and rusty red, supposedly formed in hot, wet tropical areas. The 10–12 m thick red bed between basalts at the Giant’s Causeway has been called a laterite, but it does not appear to have formed as a soil, which is what this discussion is about. Because the red bed is found between a thick series of basalt flows it is called the Interbasaltic Bed. Return to text.
  2. Zeolites are minerals popular with collectors and important industrially. Return to text.
  3. Tectonism involves movements of the earth’s plates. Magmatism is the generation of magma (molten rock), and its movement in the earth and eruption from volcanoes. Return to text.
  4. Clasts are pieces of rock. Vesicular basalt is basalt with holes, formed by gas bubbles in the molten lava. Return to text.
  5. Wilson, H.E., Lava Ploughing in the Tertiary Basalts of County Antrim, Geological Magazine 102, pp 538–540, 1965. Return to text.
  6. Breccia is rock composed of broken, angular clasts, rather than rounded clasts. Return to text.
  7. Hydrothermal alteration is the mineral changes that occur in a rock due to the presence of hot, pressurised, chemically-aggressive fluids, either from within the magma itself or from groundwater, late in the cooling of the basalt. Return to text.
  8. Sub-aerial weathering is weathering under the air, in a normal outdoor environment. Return to text.
  9. Aleva, G.J.J. The Corlat Handbook: Guidelines and Background Information for the Description of Laterite Profiles for Interdisciplinary Use, Corlat Technical Publication: 1 Wageningen, ISRIC, p 7, 1993; Link is http://edepot.wur.nl/298583 Return to text.
  10. The USGS webpage http://volcanoes.usgs.gove/hazards/gas lists the following gasses that are dissolved in magma: sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen chloride (i.e., hydrochloric acid), and hydrogen fluoride, and which are vented during eruptions as acid aerosols. They also note that extreme heat from lava entering the sea breaks down the seawater into a corrosive hydrochloric acid bearing steam known as lava haze or laze. Return to text.
  11. An admission that it is indeed relatively even. Return to text.
  12. Mitchell, W.I., Cooper, M.R., McKeever, P.J., and McConnell, B., The Classic Geology of the North of Ireland, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Belfast, p 16, 2010. Return to text.
  13. Ghosh, S., and Maji, T., Pedo-geomorphic analysis of soil loss in the lateritic region of Rampurhat I block of Birbhum district, West Bengal and Shikaripara block of Dumka district, Jharkhand, International Journal of Environmental Sciences 1(7), 2011; Link is: http://www.ipublishing.co.in/jesvol1no12010/EIJES2120.pdf Return to text.
  14. Step-like, from the Swedish word for stairs. Return to text.
  15. Catchpoole, D., Surtsey still surprises, Creation 30(1):32–34, 2007; https://creation.com/surtsey-still-surprises Return to text.
  16. Wilson, H.E., and Manning P.I. Geology of the Causeway Coast, Memoir for one–inch geological sheet 7, Vol 1, p 119, (1978). It has been suggested that the hollow at Craigahullier which is infilled with lignite was formed by a river, but Wilson states that this is impossible as it dips discordantly in a number of directions and ends abruptly against the IB. Wilson suggests that it may have been a pit crater of a type seen in Hawaii. Return to text.
  17. Schieber, J., Southard, J., and Thaisen, K., Accretion of mudstone beds from migrating floccule ripples, Science 318(5857):1760–1763, 2007. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Stephen M.
The <1800 characters limit prevents proper discussion of Angus’ points & forces brevity. Sorry if I seem curt.
Creation websites don’t address key criticisms. Eg. heat from accelerated decay rates & tectonics would boil the oceans & melt the crust.
Antrim laterite formed from basalt & rhyolite regardless of quality, even durable & not disrupted. So Angus’ points are irrelevant. My monument analogy stands.
No evidence his “single” flow was single, or the pink laterite was laterite. Needs chemical/mineralogical/petrographic data.
Yes there are other ways of altering basalt, Angus misses point that these ways can be distinguished, as can laterite.
His chemistry is still wrong. Laterite cannot result from volcanic acids (eg HCl).
Why shouldn’t volatiles be the same? He assumed they were till I pointed out they couldn’t make laterite. Now he backpeddles. There is no known chemical process that can form 30m of laterite in his timescale.
Angus asked why no gullies of the sort resulting from agriculture. Easy, there was no agriculture. What erosion is seen fits what I expect.
He misses my points re Walker’s “problems”. They are ALL either false or irrelevant, and Angus’ responses are irrelevant. Low relief does not preclude some topography, erosional or otherwise. One would not expect to see much organic matter, it decomposes rapidly in warm wet conditions. No one says it is evidence of millions of years. Straw man.
Angus said “there are no carbonised remains”. False, there are.
240 analyses from 11 locations show the bed has expected composition & profile of laterite. Fossil & isotope data proves surface origin.
All evidence indicates slow surface origin for laterite. None of Walker/Angus’ claims prove otherwise, both make errors of fact & ignore published evidence.
Angus Kennedy
The <1800 characters limit prevents proper discussion of Angus’ points & forces brevity. Sorry if I seem curt.
Creation websites don’t address key criticisms. Eg. heat from accelerated decay rates & tectonics would boil the oceans & melt the crust.
A quick check on creation.com shows that they have researched this and that it is acknowledged as a problem to be addressed.
Antrim laterite formed from basalt & rhyolite regardless of quality, even durable & not disrupted. So Angus’ points are irrelevant. My monument analogy stands.
The drill evidence shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly—it clearly demonstrates alteration and laterisation through the depth and within individual flows.
No evidence his “single” flow was single, or the pink laterite was laterite. Needs chemical/mineralogical/petrographic data.
The flow is in the quarry you visited in 2004. You are welcome to come again as my company has kindly granted me permission to facilitate such a visit. Please contact me any time (via CMI) to arrange it. Please note that the views expressed are entirely my own and that they do not represent the views of my company.
Yes there are other ways of altering basalt, Angus misses point that these ways can be distinguished, as can laterite.
Whether it is the IB that is drilled, or a flow top, or within a flow, it all drills the same—soft and fast with pink cuttings dust.
His chemistry is still wrong. Laterite cannot result from volcanic acids (eg HCl).
Why shouldn’t volatiles be the same? He assumed they were till I pointed out they couldn’t make laterite. Now he backpeddles. There is no known chemical process that can form 30m of laterite in his timescale.

The volatiles then present + heat + water could conceivably have acted synergistically. At present it appears that there is no known process, this too could change with future research.
Angus asked why no gullies of the sort resulting from agriculture. Easy, there was no agriculture. What erosion is seen fits what I expect.
My illustration using present day slash-and-burn agriculture was to show how prone exposed laterite is to gully erosion and that the laterite exposed in the quarries I know does not show such erosion. You fail to address why this should be so after 3 million years.
He misses my points re Walker’s “problems”. They are ALL either false or irrelevant, and Angus’ responses are irrelevant. Low relief does not preclude some topography, erosional or otherwise.
Why do you beat about? Your contradiction on relief was what I pointed out.
One would not expect to see much organic matter, it decomposes rapidly in warm wet conditions. No one says it is evidence of millions of years. Straw man.
Your ‘straw man’ is a non-sequitur; I said exactly the same in my letter, i.e., “Tropical rainforests on laterite are remarkably shallow rooted, growing as they do on what is only a thin soil layer”, but we’re not talking about humus; we’re talking about trees. Your obfuscation can’t hide the fact that, no matter whether the claimed period was 0.1 million years, or worse, 3 million years, there should be much more growth—a veritable forest—than what is actually is preserved between the IB and the lava. In Scotland this Halloween I and my wife walked through a Caledonian pine forest near Grantown on Spey. It is only 250 years old but already has three generations of trees.
Angus said “there are no carbonised remains”. False, there are.
This is misrepresentation by taking my statement out of context, what I said was, “...there are no carbonised remains of any such rainforest to be seen, and which might reasonably be expected to have developed in the claimed long-age time-frame”.
240 analyses from 11 locations show the bed has expected composition & profile of laterite.
1011 metres of drilled basalt and laterite over 49 bore holes (and that’s only for two of the quarries I used as examples) gives sound evidence of extensive alteration and laterisation both in and through individual flows.
Fossil & isotope data proves surface origin.
All evidence indicates slow surface origin for laterite. None of Walker/Angus’ claims prove otherwise, both make errors of fact & ignore published evidence.

What both of us, you and I, aver is based on our world-views which are mutually exclusive. The Big Bang, long-age evolutionary belief is essentially atheistic and materialistic. I believe in God, that he is true and cannot lie. I believe what he tells us in the Bible, including about creation and the Flood. Most important, I believe what God says of his Son, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save..”, and of what he says of me, “...sinners, of whom I am chief”, 1 Timothy 1:15 (KJ21). I know him as my very own Saviour, and you can too.
Stephen M.
Kennedy’s comments re dating methods & tectonism are refuted on counter-creationism websites.
Laterite forms from durable rock types so my monuments example stands.
Examples of disrupted & mingled basalt/laterite don’t indicate rapid laterite formation.
His alleged single flow with layers of pink laterite may be several flows with weathered tops.
No evidence that alteration by “volatiles streaming up through the basalt” is lateritisation. There are other kinds of alteration.
He invokes warm acid rain in the “aftermath” of the flood to make laterite, but the Interbasaltic Bed is buried under rocks allegedly formed during the flood.
His chemistry is wrong. The acids from volcanoes dissolve laterite, not form it.
The 3 Ma age estimate is the most recent, and is for the full 30 m thickness.
The comment about even thickness was one of Walker’s, apparently concerning regional topography.
With no agriculture during the flood there should be no gullies resulting from it.
There are “carbonised remains”. I gave an example (Craigahulliar qy). 3 more: charred sticks (Ballintoy), carbonised tree stumps (Cullinane), carbonised trunks (Clonetrace).
“Pockets of lignite” are widespread, and can be large enough to mine.
I corrected Walker’s claim there are no plant roots (with 2 examples), and that the top of the bed is not altered (it is). Kennedy is silent on these.
The facts I “bang on about” include analyses proving the bed has the chemical/mineralogical composition & profile of a laterite, and evidence for wet & dry seasons. Fossils indicate a surface origin, and the isotopic signature too.
The paper Kennedy cites for deposition of clay in “fast flowing” water gives speeds of 10 to 26 cm/s. I walk faster than that.
It is Kennedy’s reply that is “demonstrably weak”.
Angus Kennedy
Firstly Stephen, I would like to thank you for responding to my article. I’ve interspersed my responses below.
Kennedy’s comments re dating methods & tectonism are refuted on counter-creationism websites.
And the claims of those counter-creation websites are refuted on creation websites.
Laterite forms from durable rock types so my monuments example stands.
It’s still an incorrect analogy because, as I indicated, not all basalt is sound—much is altered, with volatiles playing an important part, evidenced by the amount of vesicularisation and disruption.
Examples of disrupted & mingled basalt/laterite don’t indicate rapid laterite formation.
Broken-up material has a larger surface on which water and volatiles can act on quicker.
His alleged single flow with layers of pink laterite may be several flows with weathered tops.
The trial drilling was carried out quite some time ago and extraction over the intervening years has confirmed it is a single flow. It also exhibits coarse columnar jointing through its depth.
No evidence that alteration by “volatiles streaming up through the basalt” is lateritisation. There are other kinds of alteration.
That is the point of the example—there are other ways of altering the basalt other than sub-aerial weathering. As was also pointed out, neither of us were there to see what happened. Any interpretation of what we see is based on our world-view and starting assumptions.
He invokes warm acid rain in the “aftermath” of the flood to make laterite, but the Interbasaltic Bed is buried under rocks allegedly formed during the flood.
I consider that the basalts were mostly extruded sub-aerially soon after the Flood had receded and after the uplift of the chalk. Walker is not the only geologist to think that some basalts were essentially laid under water as the floodwaters were receding. In order to account for the tripartite columnar jointing seen, a number of guides invoke lava flowing into river valleys or lakes and displacing significant bodies of water, with the displaced water returning to cover the basalt.
His chemistry is wrong. The acids from volcanoes dissolve laterite, not form it.
You're talking about dissolving the end product, I was pointing out that acidic volatiles known to be associated with present day basalts could account for the rapid formation of the laterite, i.e., acting on the basalt as soon as it was erupted. We don't and can't know what volatiles were initially present, but we should not exclude the likelihood that they were different to what is measured today in volcanic areas.
The 3 Ma age estimate is the most recent, and is for the full 30 m thickness.
That makes the point—all such age estimates are estimates with the calculations based on assumptions. Change the assumptions and you change the result.
The comment about even thickness was one of Walker’s, apparently concerning regional topography.
With no agriculture during the flood there should be no gullies resulting from it.

In your article, you objected separately to two evidences against a long formation time for the IB that Walker used; the even thickness of the IB, and the relative evenness of the topography of the Lower Basalts, both of which show a patent lack of erosion. You countered the first with an appeal to low relief, and the second, in the following paragraph, you cited evidence for deep river valleys. I pointed out that your statements do not square up and that one could not exclude topographical features being produced by the way the lavas piled up. My point was that the organic remains seen do not demonstrate vegetation cover (i.e., a rainforest) sufficient to protect the laterite from erosion over the putative 3 million years it took to form. Conflating my present-day example of slash and burn agriculture with the Flood is neither here nor there.
There are “carbonised remains”. I gave an example (Craigahulliar qy). 3 more: charred sticks (Ballintoy), carbonised tree stumps (Cullinane), carbonised trunks (Clonetrace).
“Pockets of lignite” are widespread, and can be large enough to mine.

I nowhere said that there weren't organic remains preserved. It is a question of quantity. Surtsey is a real-time example of how fast vegetation can colonise bare ground, even in an inhospitable environment, therefore millions of years are not required to produce what is seen or what would fill pit craters of the type cited by Wilson (please refer to footnote 16), or any other natural hollows, with washed-in vegetation.
I corrected Walker’s claim there are no plant roots (with 2 examples), and that the top of the bed is not altered (it is). Kennedy is silent on these.
Please refer to my previous response.
The facts I “bang on about” include analyses proving the bed has the chemical/mineralogical composition & profile of a laterite, and evidence for wet & dry seasons. Fossils indicate a surface origin, and the isotopic signature too.
At one location, samples of the red iron-rich laterite were analysed and found to contain approximately 50% kaolin, 30% iron oxide, with hydrated aluminium oxides making up the remainder. It does not conform to the idealised laterite profile commonly shown in textbooks as the clay has not separated out to form an underlying pallid zone. Again, this can be taken to indicate that the basalt was altered in-situ.
The paper Kennedy cites for deposition of clay in “fast flowing” water gives speeds of 10 to 26 cm/s. I walk faster than that.
The settlement system I referred to is many times larger than Schieber et al.'s flume, and it is subject to fast flowing water. Their current results would not preclude future research, perhaps using larger flumes and with a better understanding of the many factors involved, from revealing that much higher velocities can be accommodated. It also does not change the point that geological interpretations of depositional environments can be seriously wrong due to lack of knowledge.
It is Kennedy’s reply that is “demonstrably weak”.
Not at all. As I have shown, that is just your opinion.
I appreciate that as geologists we have this forum where we can discuss this issue and better understand how our beliefs and perspectives affect our interpretations of geological evidence.
Russell H.
Great article, and I really appreciate Angus's directness wrt. the authority of the Scriptures and Christ. Just one small error- He refers to Jesus' reference to Noah and the Flood in Matthew 25 as being part of the Sermon on the Mount. Certainly this was given on a mount (the Mount of Olives), but the Sermon on the Mount is the title traditionally given to Matt.5-7. Matthew 24,25 are traditionally called the Olivet Discourse.
Tas Walker
Thanks Russell for that pick-up. We have corrected it as you suggested.
Daniel K.
That's a very tasty observation, michael s. Its quite frustrating that you cannot enter into any discussion tagged as 'creationist' without directly facing the negative dispositions of the 'sophisticated.' When Dawkins is faced with the dilemma of explaining the existence of sexual reproduction (you know, the mechanism that causes any form of selection) by the unusually deistic process of 'evolution-' it is quite comical to hear the science fiction that ensues. Just read the Daily Mail UK article, where he proposes that aliens might hold 'the keys of sex,' and that there might be even 'three or four more sexes-' you know what that means. But he's an evolutionist- so he can pull fiddlesticks out of whatever place its found, and still be lauded with 'oos' and 'ahs.' When we propose the existence of an intelligent being who methodically created all the things that are, as opposed to things appearing spontaneously out of nonexistence- we are the fools, who cling to 'magic' as an explanation for what is. What is magical is seeing a magician cause a rabbit to appear out of thin air- NOT watching an artist gradually contrive a beautiful picture. I can never come across to atheists in the right way, and it is absolutely frustrating- I am 'labeled' as something I'm not before the discussion even begins. 1 Corinthians always speaks to me in this regard, in that the gospel is foolishness to the world; the wisdom of men, being foolish, is hailed- and that I must be willing to be a fool for Christ.

Thanks, CMI. I appreciate the article, and all your other articles regarding this topic. You're a great help and joy.

(See Daily Mail report "Do ALIENS hold the key to why we have sex? Richard Dawkins says ET could reveal why animals use it to reproduce - and even the origins of life" [Link removed as per feedback rules.])
michael S.
Sounds to me from what you said that Moreton is applying question-begging-epithets, and a flippant attitude.

This is part of the problem, a lot of evolutionists have a worldview that makes them infer the following: "This is a creationist speaking, a creationist is an idiot-crackpot, ergo I can dismiss him with some insulting terms, and give the standard evolution-story to address the points he made. Chances are most people will be blinded by the science anyway".

I imagine if that's not what an evolutionist thinks it's at the very least what they are behaving like, psychologically, and unwittingly.

It's very clear that the evidence you have expounded has nothing to do with the epithets, 'absurd' or, 'perverse'. As far as I can tell, a scientific explanation of a quick formation, is an intelligent and knowledgeable endeavour. I find these kind of epithets by evolutionists, not only highly disturbing, because they show political motives, but also a reminder of how deceitful the heart is. "the heart is desperately wicked above all things."

In a way their attitude-problem actually boosts my faith, because why does their side need to argue ad hominem anyway? why do the NEED to curse at us? :-) We know why, friends, my question is rhetorical!

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