Ice core clamour

Anti-creationist ‘Infinity730’ objected to the YouTube video clip What are some of the best Flood evidences? by creationist geologist Dr Andrew Snelling. When asked “ Which particular scientific evidence for a Global Flood do you take issue with? ” Infinity730 responded with a long series of geology related questions (below, in red, with CMI’s response interspersed).

Why is there no evidence of a flood in ice core series?

The Ice Age was post-Flood. The Greenland ice sheets are post-Flood.

Ice cores from Greenland have been dated back more than 40,000 years by counting annual layers. [Johnsen et al, 1992,; Alley et al, 1993]

Only 40,000? Some evolutionists claim they show more than 100,000! But both these ‘dates’ are wrong because they are based on faulty assumptions, for example the erroneous assumption that one layer equals one year. The reliable historical records in the Bible indicate that the ice cannot be more than about 4,000 years old. And the science does not oppose this. See Do Greenland ice cores show over one hundred thousand years of annual layers?

A worldwide flood would be expected to leave a layer of sediments,

Indeed it did, only definitely not just ‘a layer’. Much of the earth’s surface is covered in kilometres-thick layers of now-solidified water-laid sediments. See Sedimentary blankets: visual evidence for vast continental flooding. And these vast sedimentary rock formations have many features indicating rapid formation. See Can geological structures that we see today be explained by a global Flood?

noticeable changes in salinity and oxygen isotope ratios, fractures from buoyancy and thermal stresses, a hiatus in trapped air bubbles, and probably other evidence. Why doesn’t such evidence show up?

The Greenland ice sheets are post-Flood, so it is not possible for them to contain direct evidence of the Flood. See What about the ice Age?

How are the polar ice caps even possible? Such a mass of water as the Flood would have provided sufficient buoyancy to float the polar caps off their beds and break them up.

Exactly. And post-Flood such caps can form/reform from freezing for the same reasons as the water is now frozen—the low temperatures at the poles. We hope we don’t need to go into detail about why the poles are colder, but if that is needed, there are many junior high texts that will point this out. However, the formation of large glacial ice sheets, as occurred in the post-Flood period, is another issue. These came from massive amounts of evaporation, and in fact an Ice Age with continental glaciations is a huge problem for slow and gradual explanations. That’s because to lift large amounts of water out of the ocean onto land requires extra energy, not things getting colder and colder. That might freeze the oceans, but would cause ever less evaporation/precipitation and thus act against continental glaciation. Whereas the Flood provided ideal conditions for an Ice Age. First, much warmer oceans (according to Genesis, most of the Flood water came from under the ground) and thus not only the hugely increased snowfall giving rise to the ice sheets, but the associated pluvial periods, for which there is much evidence. Also, cooler summers from the shielding of sunlight from the large amounts of volcanic dust in the atmosphere blocking sunlight. See Q & A: Ice Age.

They wouldn’t regrow quickly. In fact, the Greenland ice cap would not regrow under modern (last 10 ky) climatic conditions.

That is patently not so. In fact, deep thicknesses of ice sheet can form quickly. For example some abandoned World War II planes that had landed on Greenland in 1942 became covered by snow, and by the time they were rediscovered in 1988, just 46 years later, they were buried under 75 metres of ice layers. See The lost squadron. Ironically, when we published this, some sceptical enquirers wrote in to point out that this is the normal (i.e. modern) level of snowfall—which is exactly the point, and rebuts your contention.

Wikimedia Commons/Dcrjsr Bristlecone Pine
Bristlecone Pine
Why is there no evidence of a flood in tree ring dating?

The number of tree rings produced per year, and their quality, varies according to species and weather. There may well be indications of weather events such as recent local floods in the rings of some trees, but all living trees today are post -Flood. The biblical Flood would not have allowed any living tree to remain in a growth situation. The oldest living trees (see Patriarchs of the forest ) are of the order of 4,000 years old, dating to shortly after the Flood.

Tree ring records go back more than 10,000 years, with no evidence of a catastrophe during that time. [Becker & Kromer, 1993; Becker et al, 1991; Stuiver et al, 1986]

That is the claim that is made but in fact the rings do not go back that far. The methods used to align tree ring sequences from different trees or pieces of wood are seriously flawed. See Tree ring dating (dendrochronology).

Why did the Flood not leave traces on the sea floors? A year long flood should be recognizable in sea bottom cores by (1) an uncharacteristic amount of terrestrial detritus, (2) different grain size distributions in the sediment, (3) a shift in oxygen isotope ratios (rain has a different isotopic composition from seawater), (4) a massive extinction, and (n) other characters. Why do none of these show up?

The huge misconception in all of this (not just this question, but the earlier ones) is that you do not have a big enough concept of the Flood and what it actually did to the earth. It’s like you are looking for trace evidences of a global Flood within the actual evidences for it! It’s like you’re staring at the forest and asking, ‘where is there a single tree?’ This shows that you have not read what creationist geologists have written and discussed about such a Flood, which even in theory would rip up and destroy any such minute traces, or any slow and gradual record of events—by definition. So here you are looking in marine sediments that are all almost exclusively the result of massive runoff after the Flood, and asking, ‘Where is the tiny layer I expect?’ Put it differently: if one grants that there was a global Flood, then the rock record is no longer a slow tape recording of events over vast eons, because such a Flood would erase any such record. The rock record is then a record of differential sedimentation and differential burial. So consider number 4 in your list, massive extinction: the fact that the vast majority of creatures, particularly marine creatures and plants, are no longer with us, certainly shows up. If that is not a ‘massive extinction’, what would you call it? And the massive coal deposits around the world are testament to number 1 in your list, the terrestrial detritus of the Flood. Note, the seafloors of today are not the seafloors of the pre-Flood globe. That world was destroyed. The mountains rose and the valleys sank ( Psalm 104:8 ). Banded remanent magnetism in today’s seafloor rocks indicates that they formed during the Flood. See What about continental drift? and also The earth’s magnetic field: evidence that the earth is young.

How does a global flood explain angular unconformities? These are where one set of layers of sediments have been extensively modified (e.g., tilted) and eroded before a second set of layers were deposited on top. They thus seem to require at least two periods of deposition (more, where there is more than one unconformity) with long periods of time in between to account for the deformation, erosion, and weathering observed.

Yes, unconformities, including angular unconformities, indicate two (or more) periods of deposition, separated by a period of erosion. And the corollary of this is that where there is no unconformity e.g. between the Coconino Sandstone and Hermit Shale layers in Grand Canyon, there was no period of erosion—see ‘Millions of years’ are missing. Your mistake once again is to fail to understand the magnitude of this year–long event, which would have involved huge numbers of separate events/periods of deposition, as areas were eroded, deposited, re-eroded, etc. Angular unconformities actually preserve evidence that supports the Flood ( Unmasking a long-age icon ).

Note that erosion can occur extremely quickly. Water moving at around 30 metres per second can carve through solid cement and rock due to the explosive effect of cavitation (see Beware the bubble’s burst ). Imagine then the effect on unconsolidated sediments, still soft and waterlogged, as receding floodwaters streamed off the continents in the latter stages of the Flood.

As for deformation, there are sedimentary mountain ranges around the globe that display deformation on a massive scale—vast sequences of parallel layers of rock undulating like coloured twists in boiled candy. But solid rock cannot deform in this way. This sort of deformation is an indication that the layers of sediment were still wet and soft at the time the deformation occurred. See Warped earth.

Flickr/mckaysavage Nepal mountain range
Ngozumba glacier, Nepal.
How were mountains and valleys formed? Many very tall mountains are composed of sedimentary rocks. (The summit of Everest is composed of deep-marine limestone, with fossils of ocean-bottom dwelling crinoids [Gansser, 1964].) If these were formed during the Flood, how did they reach their present height, and when were the valleys between them eroded away?

Indeed! The Mt Everest limestones were formed under the sea. Besides crinoids, they are also riddled with trilobite fossils. 1 The massive tectonic forces unleashed during the Flood restructured the whole surface of the globe. The continents split apart and sedimentary deposits of the Flood were pushed together toward the end of that event, forming the crumpled mountain ranges of today. Many creationist scientists think there was a single pre-Flood continent ( Genesis 1:9 implies a single continent) that split into today’s arrangement of multiple continents via catastrophic plate tectonics (CTP). See Where did all the water go?

Keep in mind that many valleys were clearly carved by glacial erosion, which is a slow process.

Yes, valleys carved by glaciers have a distinctive U-shape, and scored rocks. Such valleys can form in hundreds of years, and we have already discussed (and referred you to articles about) the post-Flood Ice Age. This is one of the strongest areas of flood geological scholarship, actually, and is something we are very glad you brought up (as anyone who bothers reading that Ice Age section of articles we referred you to earlier will come to understand).

Many geographical features, such as ‘water gaps’ and valleys with ‘underfit’ rivers, are incompatible with slow and gradual scenarios, but readily explainable by the global Flood—see Do rivers erode through mountains? and How landscapes reveal Noah’s Flood.

When did granite batholiths form? Some of these are intruded into older sediments and have younger sediments on their eroded top surfaces. It takes a long time for magma to cool into granite, nor does granite erode very quickly. [For example, see Donohoe & Grantham, 1989, for locations of contact between the South Mountain Batholith and the Meugma Group of sediments, as well as some angular unconformities.]

Traditional secular calculations about how long it takes granite to cool are based on cooling by conduction alone, and hence cannot possibly be correct. Modern-day evidence in fact indicates that this assumption of a long time to cool batholiths is simply wrong. Cooling proceeds via a variety of mechanisms, including loss of steam and associated fracturing. See Granite formation: catastrophic in its suddenness.

There have been at least five major ice ages in the Earth's past (the Huronian, Cryogenian, Andean-Saharan, Karoo Ice Age and the Quaternary glaciation).

There has only been one major Ice Age in the earth’s past, not five or more. See “How many ice ages were there?”, pages 201–204The Creation Answers Book.

The airplanes landed near the shore of Greenland, where snow accumulation is rapid, at about 2 m per year. Allowing for some compaction due to the weight of the snow, that accounts for the depth of snow under which they are buried. The planes are also on an active glacier and have moved about 2 km since landing. Ice core dating takes place on stable ice fields, not active glaciers. The interior of Greenland, where ice cores were taken, receives much less snow. In Antarctica, where ice cores dating back more than 100,000 years have been collected, the rate of snow accumulation is much less still.

Re snowfall and ice sheet buildup on the interior of Greenland see pages 208–209. Snowfall was much heavier in the first several post–Flood centuries—even heavier than snowfall near the shores of Greenland today. For a detailed exposure of the incorrectness of the ‘100,000 years’ figure, see Do Greenland ice cores show over one hundred thousand years of annual layers?.

May we say that the very way in which you have presented such a barrage of very basic objections as if they were ‘giant-killers’ is indicative of the following:

  1. That you have actually not read even the basic works of creationist researchers, so if indeed you have been banned from all those websites you claim elsewhere, it may be because of a persistent refusal to familiarize yourself with that which you are attacking.
  2. Even if Flood geologists were wrong (for the sake of the argument) the fact that their (our) number contains many who have high qualifications in the earth sciences should have made you realize before launching this barrage that there are probably answers to such very basic (dare we say puerile?) questions, which should have given pause to your seemingly confident assumptions. In fact, it all comes across as rather insulting to researchers such as Dr Snelling and many other PhD geologists in the creation movement.

Nevertheless, we have done you the courtesy of responding in detail, but if you still have issues, and your subsequent questions (unlike these) show a serious seeking after answers and a serious attempt to understand Flood geology, send your further enquiries to the CMI website question section, we always take serious questions from serious seekers seriously (though we will not indefinitely spend time where experience with any individual shows that they are not interested in serious engagement).

Published: 2 December 2012


  1. Hughes, N.C., Trilobite hunting in the Himalaya, Earth 5 (3):52–59, June 1996. Return to text.

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