This article is from
Creation 45(1):40–43, January 2023

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Log mats solve many geological riddles



Today, a violent event will occasionally create floating log mats, like the one found in the lake at the foot of Mount Saint Helens after it erupted in 1980. Clearly, a global flood would have formed massive log mats from floating vegetation. Before the Flood, about eight to ten times as many plants and trees existed as now, based on the estimated amount of coal in the sedimentary rocks.1 Coal contains plants compressed by the sediments deposited on top.

Floating vegetation during the Flood

During the Flood, all of the pre-Flood trees were ripped up. Many of them floated on the floodwater forming log mats. Log mats can explain many geological riddles in sedimentary rocks.2,3

The example of Mount St Helens

© Dr Harold CoffinHorizontal and vertical trees floatingon Spirit Lake
Figure 1. Horizontal and vertical trees floating on Spirit Lake just north of Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA.

The eruption of Mount St Helens, Washington state, USA, in 1980 inspired the idea of log mats floating on the floodwaters of Noah’s Flood.4 The northward blast uprooted millions of trees. A debris avalanche landed in Spirit Lake forming a gigantic wave that propelled the water 260 m (870 ft) up the other side of the lake. The water washed back carrying hundreds of thousands of logs down into Spirit Lake (figure 1).

The log mat on Spirit Lake has been floating since but is gradually disappearing. This shows how log mats would be a significant factor within and after the Flood.

Floating islands exist today

There are many log mats, or floating islands, today. Some have growing vegetation, including trees, and sometimes supporting animals.5 Loktak Lake in northeast India has many natural floating islands with some small ones built for fishing. Van Duzer points out:

creditRocks in tree roots, Black Hills, South Dakota
Figure 2. Rocks in tree roots, Black Hills, South Dakota, USA.
To those not acquainted with them, floating islands usually seem at first like a myth, a paradox, or an impossibility; surely chunks of the solid and massy earth on which we stand cannot drift easily about the surface of a body of water. Yet, floating islands exist on at least six of the seven continents, and sometimes in the oceans that separate them; they may have trees growing upon them, be hundreds of meters across, and support the weight of a hundred cattle grazing on them.6

Dropstones in sedimentary rocks

Log mats can explain dropstones found in sedimentary rocks. A dropstone is a rock with a diameter thicker than the layers where it is found. Secular scientists named them dropstones since they say the stones dropped from icebergs that existed during imagined ancient ice ages.7 Many mechanisms can explain dropstones without glaciation,8 one of which is rocks dropping from floating kelp9 or falling from floating tree mats (figure 2).

Vertical trees in sedimentary rocks

Numerous locations on the earth show vertical trees in sedimentary rocks (figures 3 and 4). Secular scientists automatically assume these trees grew in place long ago. I have examined many vertical trees, and when the bottom ends can be examined (figures 3 and 4), I have found that they lack roots and soils (figure 4).10 Thus, the trees did not grow in place, but instead can be explained as trees sinking vertically from log mats during the Flood. This happened to logs on Spirit Lake as they became waterlogged more in the root end weighing that downwards.

Two vertical trees
Figure 3. Two vertical trees, up to 4 m tall, from a coalmine north of Sutton, Alaska.
One of hundreds of vertical trees in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Figure 4. One of hundreds of vertical trees in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, western North Dakota, USA (Peter Klevberg provides the scale).

The Yellowstone ‘fossil forests’

The most significant occurrence of vertical petrified trees is found in Yellowstone National Park and vicinity, Montana and Wyoming, USA. About a dozen locations show stacks of vertical trees on an escarpment or cliff. The most famous is Specimen Ridge. Secular scientists assumed that each level represents a forest that grew and subsequently was overwhelmed by volcanic debris flows. Dozens of levels imply tens of thousands of years and many eruptions.

But a closer analysis of the ‘fossil forests’ reveals they have no soils, no fossil animals, no bark, and few long roots. There were also trees and pollen from widely different environments, ranging from tropical to cool temperate, and similar tree ring patterns in trees from different layers.11 A better explanation is that the logs sank vertically, progressively, from log mats in a global flood as multiple volcanic debris flows covered multiple layers of logs (figure 5).11

A log mat with trees sinking vertically to bottom
A log mat with trees sinking vertically to bottom
Figure 5. A log mat with trees sinking vertically to bottom, while bottom is collecting deposits horizontally from volcanic debris flows (drawn by Keaton Halley).

Plant fossil paradoxes

Figure 6. Schematic on the formation of insects in amber.
a) An insect becomes trapped in amber on a login a log mat floating in the Floodwater.
b) Insect tries to escape, with wings and/or legs outstretched, but a second flow of resin completely covers up the insect.
c) The resin with insect falls off the log and into the water.
d) Resin with insect is incorporated into sediments.
e) Resin with insect is deeply buried and changes into amber.

Numerous plants are found in sedimentary rocks. They reveal several paradoxes, such as mixing from different environments, as shown in Yellowstone Park. Another is the discovery of warm climate vegetation remains at high latitudes, including Alaska, Canada, and Antarctica.12,13

Secular scientists have great difficulty explaining these. Their climate models overwhelmingly show the high latitude environments and continental interiors as cold in winter, no matter how they attempt to boost the warmth in their models.14 But log mats in the Flood can easily explain these anomalies by mixing of log mats from various environments and by currents carrying them from lower to higher latitudes.

Insects and organisms in amber

Numerous insects and other organisms are found in amber. Amber is fossilized tree resin, but it is usually found in a marine environment and often associated with coal. Moreover, amber forms in a low-oxygen environment. Some of the organisms are aquatic, even marine. The secular explanation of these observations runs into numerous contradictions.

But these mysteries can be explained by log mats during the Flood. Numerous insects and other organisms from a wide variety of environments would have ended up on log mats. Resin would abundantly flow from gashes in the trees. The resin would sometimes overwhelm an insect or other organism. As the logs shift or bounce around, the resin is knocked off the log mat and sinks to the bottom. The resin is covered by thick sediments, and the heat in a non-oxidizing environment turns it into amber (figure 6).

Log mats can explain the origin of coal

The secular swamp theory for the origin of coal has numerous problems, such as marine organisms in the coal, the flat tops and bottoms of coal seams, and the purity of the coal. But coal can be explained by log mats. One mechanism is the beaching of log mats during a local fall of the floodwater, exposing the bottom sediments. A local rise in the sediment-filled floodwater could quickly cover the trapped log mat. Much more sedimentation and heat, especially from the increased volcanic activity associated with the Flood, would turn the buried log mat into coal.3

Log mats can explain post-Flood dispersal

Numerous log mats would have been buried in the Flood. However, some log mats would be beached as the floodwaters drained. Seeds and roots would take hold in the top sediments resulting in quick revegetation after the Flood.

But some log mats would continue floating. Some trees are possibly capable of floating for a few hundred years. These log mats would be huge compared to any scrap of vegetation secular scientists can imagine, torn up during storms and floating down a river to the ocean. Invertebrates such as insects that survived the initial devastation could have taken refuge in log mats, creating their own ecosystems.

Animals spreading from the “Mountains of Ararat” would soon arrive at the ocean. A grounded log mat, possibly at low tide, could float again at high tide, and spread animals that boarded the mat to far-flung areas of the earth. This can potentially solve many biogeographic mysteries of how present-day animals and plants arrived where we find them, including the Australian marsupials.15

Log mats provide answers

The Flood was not a simple rise and fall of the water over a year. Many unique processes happened during the Flood, including the formation of log mats. Floating log mats during and after the Flood provide reasonable answers to many riddles found within the sedimentary rocks.


Posted on homepage: 6 March 2023

References and notes

  1. Archer, D., The Global Carbon Cycle, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2010. Return to text.
  2. Oard, M.J., Mid and high latitude flora deposited in the Genesis Flood part II: creationist hypotheses, CRSQ 32(3):138–141, 1995. Return to text.
  3. Oard, M.J. (ebook), The Genesis Flood and Floating Log Mats: Solving Geological Riddles, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, 2014. Return to text.
  4. Morris, J. and Austin, S.A., Footprints in the Ash: The Explosive Story of Mount St. Helens, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2003. Return to text.
  5. Van Duzer, C., Floating Islands: A Global Bibliography, Cantor Press, Los Altos Hills, CA, 2004. Return to text.
  6. Van Duzer, Ref. 5, p. v. Return to text.
  7. Oard, M.J., Ancient Ice Ages or Gigantic Submarine Landslides? Creation Research Society Books, Glendale, AZ, 1997. Return to text.
  8. Oard, M.J., What is the meaning of dropstones in the rock record? J. Creation 22(3):3–5, 2008; creation.com/dropstones. Return to text.
  9. Oard, M.J., Kelp could have produced abundant dropstones during the Flood, J. Creation 26(2):3, 2012; creation.com/kelp-dropstones. Return to text.
  10. Oard, M.J. and Klevberg, P., Petrified ideas in the Williston Basin–Part II: Fossil wood, Creation Research Society Quarterly 58(3):204–219, 2022. Return to text.
  11. Coffin, H.G., The Yellowstone petrified ‘forests’, Origins 24(1):5–44, 1997. Return to text.
  12. Wolfe, J.A., Paleogene floras from the Gulf of Alaska region, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 997, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 1977. Return to text.
  13. Oard, M. J., The paradox of warm-climate vegetation in Antarctica, J. Creation 22(2):8–10, 2008; creation.com/warm-climate-vegetation-antarctica. Return to text.
  14. Sloan, L.C. and Barron, E.J., A comparison of Eocene climate model results to quantified paleoclimatic interpretations, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 93:183–202, 1992. Return to text.
  15. Oard, M.J., When and how did the marsupials migrate to Australia? J. Creation 36(2):90–96, 2022. Return to text.

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