Who really sunk the Noah’s Ark site?

© Cameron Horn, 1997

Adapted with permission

Plimer’s peculiar slant on proceedings is not the most significant portion of the Noah’s Ark site story however. Certainly, a high ranking academic appearing to lay claim to a geological investigation, which doesn’t seem to be his own, has a nasty smell about it. However, it would all come to nothing without publicity.

Thus it is with interest that we look at how the mainstream media came to promote the Ark site as creationism’s only hope, and its demise as the work of Ian Plimer.

The Sun-Herald’s Peter Pockley stated in November 1994:

‘claims that the ark had been found have become central to the creationists’ campaign. The creationist movement has been left high and dry by Prof Plimer’s on-the-spot study.’ 1

This is very strange when the creationist movement had been saying for 2 years that the site definitely was not the Ark. 2 Furthermore, in his November 1994 article, Pockley admits:

‘two years ago we reported that he [Plimer] and other Australian geologists believed [the Ark site was] a classical fold of rock known as a syncline.’

So Pockley admits he and Plimer have had it wrong for 2 years.

However it is fascinating to compare what Plimer is quoted to have said in Pockley’s November 1994 article with what Dr Andrew Snelling had said in 1992.

Plimer/Pockley Nov. 1994:

In September [1994], he [Plimer] showed that the structure was ‘a large block of cooked-up basalt interleaved with limestone’.

Snelling Sept. 1992:

The central outcrop on the western side is a limestone. A further less prominent outcrop of the same rock type occurs some metres to the north on the easterly side. The same rock can be traced in a line to the east and west of the formation. Limestone thus cuts right across the formation. This limestone bed comes to the surface right across this boat-shape. The other rock type on the site is basalt, a rock that is produced by the cooling of molten lavas. The stable area is an uplifted block and erosional remnant of basement rock, including limestone and basalt. 3

Plimer/Pockley Nov. 1994:

[The large block] had slipped down the mountain-side in a mud slide …

Snelling Sept. 1992:

The boat-shape is situated in a sloping valley and is surrounded by deposits of loose soil and crushed rock which is slowly sliding downhill flowing much as a glacier flows, a mudflow.

Plimer/Pockley Nov. 1994:

[The block has] twisted around in the process.

Snelling Sept. 1992:

The southern portion of the boat shape … was very strongly deformed and strongly folded.

Plimer/Pockley Nov. 1994:

Our drilling showed nothing beneath the surface but rock and mud.

Snelling Sept. 1992:

The drilling intersected basalt at between six and seven metres depth … exactly the rock type … present in the mudflow material as boulders at the surface.

Plimer/Pockley Nov. 1994:

All around [the block] is nothing but mud.

Snelling Sept. 1992:

The boat-shape … is surrounded by … a mudflow … . Just as water flows around a rock in a river bed, the site has acquired a streamlined shape due to the dynamics of the slowly flowing mud.

Plimer/Pockley Nov. 1994:

There is no evidence of wooden beams or metal rivets as claimed by Ark believers.

Snelling Sept. 1992:

Every sample from the site that others have suggested might be petrified wood has under the microscope always been basalt.

The magnetometer survey produced absolutely no evidence of any buried metal artefacts, regular patterns or ‘iron lines’.

As can be seen, the conclusions are identical. Some of the phrasing is very similar. The only difference is that Snelling was two years ahead of Plimer/Pockley. Pockley freely admits Plimer had it wrong. Plimer freely claims to have read Snelling’s 1992 article. 4 To parody Roberts, ‘If this isn't plagiarism, then what is it?’


  1. The Sun-Herald November 6th 1994 page 48. And so on for all the Plimer/Pockley quotes in this section. On the same page a short review of Plimer's Telling Lies for God also appears, without reporter identification. One can only assume that Pockley was also responsible for this review which states that Plimer’s book is ‘a highly documented account of the history of creationists ‘claims.’ There is also the challenge that ‘there has been a sharp reaction from the creationists and the ball now seems to be in their court to answer Prof Plimer and Archbishop Hollingworth with contrary evidence.’

    However, at every occasion, when contrary evidence has been attempted to be presented to the media, journalists like Pockley have shown absolutely no interest. Also, at a Plimer press conference in June 1997, as I personally challenged Plimer to respond to accusations of misrepresentation and plagiarisation in his book, not one journalist in the room, including Pockley at my right shoulder and Leigh Dayton sitting at Plimer’s feet, were in the slightest bit interested in the accusations or what I believe to be the fact that I proved that Plimer had not told the truth at that very press conference.

    The challenge issued in the Sun Herald review of November 1994, has been well and truly taken up and met head on by the various people maligned in Plimer’s book. The media however, have failed in their side of the bargain, to, as Plimer so often puts it, ‘provide the appropriate public focus.’ Creationists would dearly love ‘appropriate public focus’ on Plimer’s book, however, the media are extremely reticent to provide. Return to text

  2. Stranger still is the fact that for those 2 years, Pockley had been in possession of both the Lippard articles [by a fellow Skeptic, documenting Plimer’s penchant for misrepresentation. See http://www.primenet.com/~lippard/plimer-book.html. Ed.] and the CSF Prayer News of August 1992 (documenting their conclusions on the Ark site). Return to text 

  3. Dr Andrew Snelling’s 13 page article, Noah’s Ark Exposé, Creation 14 (4):26–38. See pages 36–37 and so on for the Snelling quotes in this section. Return to text

  4. Ian Plimer 1994 Telling Lies for God , pages 254 and 255. Return to text

Published: 24 February 2006