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Creation 31(3):18, June 2009

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Lunar volcanoes rock long-age timeframe

by and David Catchpoole

Image NASAlunar volcano

Evolutionary timeframes date the moon at about 4.5 billion years, with the lunar volcanism that produced the large, prominent and nearly circular, dark “seas” (or maria, as they are called) starting soon after that. The volcanism is mooted to have ended about three billion years ago.

But researchers studying recent images of the far side of the moon, taken from the Japanese SELENE (Kaguya) lunar satellite, report dark “seas” of volcanic rock they say are “only” 2.5 billion years old, “much younger” than formerly presumed.1,2 That’s because there are fewer craters (blasted by meteors) on the smooth dark surfaces than expected—assuming the rate of cratering has been constant through time. Fewer craters means that the volcanic lava flows can’t be so old.

Given this volcanic activity lasted (supposedly) 500 million years later than previously thought, evolutionists now have the challenge of explaining how lunar volcanism was able to persist for so long. The moon is only about one-quarter the diameter of Earth, and only about one-eightieth of its mass, so it should have long ago cooled, and long been geologically dead.

Peeling back the uniformitarian assumptions, as our knowledge of space increases, mounting evidence points to the solar system (and the rest of the universe beyond) being much younger than the presumed evolutionary ages, consistent with the biblical time-frame of only around 6,000 years.3

Ghost craters are young too

Image USGSAlmeida

Ghost craters on the lunar maria also testify that that the moon is young.1

We have seen how each mare formed after a huge space object smashed into the moon blasting an enormous depression, cracking the crust and releasing molten lava from inside.

Ghost craters appear as faint circular shapes on the smooth maria (arrowed in figure) because their edges poke up from beneath the lava. They were formed by meteors and are visible because they are only partially filled with lava. By way of contrast, the small craters that formed after the maria solidified are sharp and clear.

Many ghost craters have been recognized and herein lies a dilemma for evolutionists. Based on the present slow rate of cratering, evolutionary astronomers need lots of time for the ghost craters to accumulate before they were filled with lava—500 million years in fact.

But, after the huge crust-cracking impacts, how much time would it take for the lava to flow from inside the moon and fill the maria basins? Obviously not long—a few hours, or days or weeks at the most. Longer than that and the lava would solidify and stop flowing. Such huge impacts would have had an effect immediately.

Thus, ghost craters reflect the catastrophic history of the moon, and are evidence for its youth. They also indicate that the rate of cratering was much higher at a certain time in the past. And the ages of the other planets and moons in our solar system, based on cratering counts, are also much younger than claimed. Creationist astronomers suggest this period of intense cratering coincided with the global Flood catastrophe that took place on Earth (Genesis 7:11–12).2

References and notes

  1. Fryman, H., Ghost craters in the sky, Creation Matters 4(1):6, 1999; creationresearch.org/creation_matters/pdf/1999/cm0401.pdf; see also Psarris, S, What you aren’t being told about astronomy, vol. 1: Our created Solar System, DVD, creationastronomy.com, 2009.
  2. Faulkner, D., A biblically-based cratering theory, Journal of Creation 13(1):100–104, 1999, creation.com/cratering; Spencer, W.R., Response to Faulkner’s ‘biblically-based cratering theory’, Journal of Creation 14(1):46–49, 2000, creation.com/crateringresponse. They propose that a brief, narrow swarm of space objects impacted the moon producing the distinctive, dark maria. This explains why the maria are almost exclusively confined to one side—the swarm passed before the moon had time to turn on its axis and expose the other side.

References

  1. Haruyama, J. et al., Long-lived volcanism on the lunar farside revealed by SELENE terrain camera, Science, doi: 10.1126/science.1163382, 6 November 2008. Return to text.
  2. Minard, A., Volcanoes rocked dark side of the moon, National Geographic News, news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/11/081106-moon-volcanoes.html, 6 November 2008. Return to text.
  3. See also Sarfati, J., The moon: the light that rules the night, Creation 20(4):36–39, 1998; creation.com/moon. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Chris M.
I'm often returning to your web-site finding it most helpful. As a mere layman, could you explain perhaps on a more "cosmic" level the cratering of not only our moon but some of our planets and their moons relative to the work of creation and the subsequent fall ?
Many thanks for your extensive work !
Tas Walker
Hi Chris, If you type "cratering" into the search box at the top of this page you will find many helpful articles.
Beky S.
Could of this happened at Creation week?
Tas Walker
Creation astronomers generally regard the large impacts, which produced these maria, as having occurred at the time of the Flood. These large impacts on the moon point to a significant bombardment within the solar system which would have affected Earth. Such a bombardment would be quite unpleasant during Creation week, and not match the Lord's assessment at the end of creation week as it being "very good". There are a number of articles on meteorite bombardment on Creation.com including this one.
Tim L.
My question is, how do you end up with multiple impacts on the side of the moon towards the earth? Has anyone worked out the range of approach angles that an asteroid could have and end up impacting the side that is shielded by earth (which is always the case since the moon is totally locked)? It would seem to me to be highly unlikely since the Earth's gravity well would make it far more likely to be hit. Since it doesn't look like Earth was bombarded like that, it would seem that the source of the craters could not be asteroids. If anything, it seems an asteroid bombardment would be far more likely to result in a cluster of craters on the side or back of the moon, not the side facing Earth. Am I missing something here? I'm pretty familiar with the research from Wayne Spencer and others on this topic, but I don't recall anyone working out the likelihood of an asteroid(s) following the path it would need to follow in order to hit the area where we see the most craters. Maybe I'm not as familiar with the available research as I thought? To say the least, I'm quite interested in hearing your insights on this.
Tas Walker
Indeed, that is a problem for those developing scenarios within the evolutionary, long-age paradigm. However, it can be easily explained from a biblical perspective. At the moment the moon is tidally locked with the earth, meaning one side of the moon always faces towards us. At the end of Creation Week we can envisage this was not the case. Things changed when an asteroid swarm at the time of the Flood impacted the moon, mostly on one side. This caused basaltic magma to flow onto the moon's surface forming the maria, mostly on one side. This moved the centre of gravity of the moon away from its spin axis, which led to it becoming tidally locked. That the impacts occurred mainly on one side of the moon has other implications. It suggests that there was very little time between the impacts, less than one rotation of the moon, or around a couple of weeks. You can find lots of articles on impacts by searching for "impacts earth moon", including this one, How many impact craters should there be on the earth.
Thomas R.
It seems that there should be a way to determine whether the majority of the craters, maria, ghost craters, etcetera, are roughly the same age, in a relative since.
Perhaps that would require more detailed mineral sampling than is practical to obtain.
Maybe it’s a matter of determining the core temperature at various depths and then figuring out the rate of cooling, if it isn’t already too cold to do so.
Knowing something about the temperatures and the granule structure of the rock across a large sample area should produce some kind of clue, I would think.
In other words, if the rock had cooled significantly between the earliest impacts, and the latest ones, shouldn’t there be some discernible evidence in granule or crystal structure to confirm that?
And if no significant time elapsed, then shouldn’t the samples all be very much alike?
Tas Walker
That is an interesting idea. However, there is not the opportunity to collect all those samples at present.
Mikkel L.
What do you think of the recent discovery of larger-than-expected metal deposits under the moon's surface? I read articles where the lack of such metals was evidence for a young moon, and therefore a young earth.
Tas Walker
I have not seen such articles and a quick search of the creation-evolution database has not turned anything up. If you can advise details of the references you mention we could look into it. I think it would be useful for you to read the introduction to the article Age of the earth under the heading "Can science prove the age of the earth". All age estimates are based on assumptions and new discoveries and evidence simply mean that the assumptions and story need to be changed.

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