And then the natural follow-up,
I do hope you remember that Mt St Helens proved to us that varves can be laid down in a matter of minutes, not years? Also I will remind you of this set of experiments:
"Written by Ian Juby
Various footage taken during these experiments can be viewed in my Video Logs (VLOGs) on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=wazooloo
Brief: In mid-march, 2007, M.E. Clark (Professor Emeritus, U of Illinois @ Urbana), Andrew Rodenbeck and myself performed a series of experiments over two weeks at Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. The museum grounds have a rotary flume which was constructed by M.E. and Dr. Henry Voss, and was transported to Glen Rose some years ago. M.E. also brought down "Archimedes," a specially designed and constructed liquefaction tank which will be discussed later..." Gotta go here to see it all!
Varves were formed when Mt St Helens exploded and produced a miniature Grand Canyon which we could study and discover a LOT about the formation of the original. There is a lot of evidence for a Flood Model of Geology and it doesn't have all the problems that naturalists cannot solve.
A YEC look at varves...
- Geological Society of America
1 organism. It’s a Bristlecone Pine tree, given the Biblical name of ‘Old Methuselah’ due to its estimated age (from counting the number of its tree rings) of 4,723 years.2 Amazingly, this tree would have been over 2,000 years old when Jesus Christ walked the Earth.
It is normally assumed that for each year of growth, one growth ring will be shown. This is generally true; however, it is a demonstrable fact that in years of good growth, i.e. moist, warm conditions, more than one growth ring can readily occur. Research has actually demonstrated this with Bristlecone Pine seedlings. By supplementing the ‘normal’ winter day length with a heat lamp, extra rings were able to be grown.3 In the presumed warm, moist and changing seasonal conditions in the first few centuries after Noah’s Flood, it is likely that there would have been quite a few such extra rings. This comfortably accounts for the few hundred years (less than 10%) difference between the oldest ‘real’ tree-ring results and the Biblical date of the Flood.
However, such an explanation would be strained if tree-rings on living trees gave dates of thousands of years more than this. Some scientists have now proposed a Bristlecone Pine chronology extending back more than 9,000 years from today.4 But this is by using a tree-ring dating method that links pieces of dead trees (even fossil fragments) with living ones. This ‘overlapping’ method seeks to cross-match the rings, using best-fit scenarios. These are fortified by statistical analysis to try to eliminate the subjectivity. But in the past, there has apparently been some difficulty obtaining access to the raw data to independently check these procedures. This has now been overcome, and further creationist research is underway.5 The bottom line is, however, that these apparent challenges do not arise from present-day, growing trees.
Are any living trees claimed to be substantially older than the Biblical date of the Flood? Indeed so—sometimes more than 10,000 years. But we shall discover that none of these were from counting the actual number of rings in a living tree.
Oldest and Biggest?
Sequoia trees, like the one pictured here are among the tallest living things on Earth today, growing to be hundreds of feet high. The name ‘sequoia’ is in honour of the Indian Cherokee nation leader Seqouyah (1776–1842), who invented a unique alphabet and taught his people to read and write. One of the first books in Cherokee was the Bible (1825).
Giant Sequoias generally have very shallow root systems of only about 3 m (10 ft) deep and are highly resistant to insect pests, disease and fire. The General Sherman tree (above) is the most massive one in the world. It contains enough timber to build 40 houses of five rooms each. Its outer bark is reported to be more than 1.3 m (4 ft) thick.
Tasmanian trees—30,000 years old?The Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) is a native conifer of Tasmania (Australia). In 1995, international headlines claimed that there could be Huon Pines as old as 30,000–40,000 years.6 Many people had the impression that this must refer to the number of rings, but that was not the case. How were the dates obtained? The trees in this particular stand are genetically identical to each other. That is, they have reproduced by vegetative reproduction from an original tree. This could mean that they have simply transplanted themselves, possibly from fallen branches, or new growth could be occurring from underground root systems. It is assumed that this reproductive process has been continuing for many millennia, hence the speculative ‘long ages’. In some cases, the carbon-14 (14C) dating method has been used on the root system and nearby fragments, and Huon Pine pollen has been found in the sedimentary layers of a nearby lake. We have often explained the assumptions behind 14C methods and the errors made in interpreting the data.
The world’s oldest treesBristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva and Pinus aristata) grow in very extreme, harsh conditions at altitudes of more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft). The highly resinous wood of these gnarled, ghostly-looking giants ensures they resist attacks from bacteria, fungi and insects. They are extremely slow growers. During their annual growing season of only about 45 days, they can add as little as 2.5 cm (1 in) to their girth every hundred years.7 While only reaching a maximum height of around 18 m (60 ft), the girth of the largest Bristlecone, named ‘Old Patriarch’, is a massive 11.2 m (36 ft 8 in).
The second-oldest known living tree, with a verified tree-ring age of 3,631 years, is an Alerce Tree from Chile, South America. Also known as the Patagonian Cypress, this species is believed to be related to North America’s giant redwoods (sequoias). Interestingly, Charles Darwin named it Fitzroya cupressoides in honour of Robert FitzRoy, captain of H.M.S. Beagle.8
The world’s tallest treesThe tallest known living tree is the Mendocino tree, a giant redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) found near Ukiah, California, USA. It has been officially measured at 112 m (367 ft 5 in). However, this was dwarfed by an Australian eucalypt (mountain ash), felled in Victoria, Australia, in 1872. It was believed to have been almost 150 m (492 ft) tall or as high as a 36-storey building, and remains the tallest ‘known’ tree to have ever lived.9
The location of many of these ‘prized’ trees (such as Old Methuselah or the Mendocino tree) is kept secret to deter vandals and souvenir hunters.10
The world’s largest treesThe official ‘living’ record for size is held by a giant sequoia, dubbed ‘General Sherman’, which can be found in California’s Sequoia National Park. It stands at 83.8 m (275 ft) and is 31.3 m (102 ft 8 in) around its base, and (with the possible exception of an underground fungus system11) is the largest single organism existing on Earth. Its total bulk is more than ten times that of a Blue Whale.
General Sherman was originally thought to be more than 6,000 years old, but this has now been revised to only 2,150 years. Nate Stephenson of the US Geological Survey said, ‘The new Sherman tree age estimate could still be off by centuries’. How, using a very simple method of ‘just counting tree rings’, can dates be subject to such dramatic alteration?
Most people presume that an ‘old’ tree’s age is derived from just counting the annual rings from a full-depth core sample. But this is hardly ever so. In the case of General Sherman, only foot-long samples were taken, and cross-matched with each other by looking for similar ‘indicator’ or distinct rings. Mathematical assumptions are then made to calculate the age of the tree by comparing measurements from other sequoia stumps.12,13
A uniformitarian (the present is the key to the past) approach is then applied when calculating dates (which doesn’t allow for differences in past climates which can affect growing seasons and even produce extra rings). This has been shown, in the case of General Sherman, to be very inaccurate. It would be more accurate if samples could be taken right through to the tree’s core or pith. But such procedures are very difficult on huge trees, as core samples are usually only pencil thin. This is because a full-depth procedure using large power equipment would involve significant damage to the tree. In short, longer dates have been assumed due to the enormous size of the tree.
Interestingly, Nate Stephenson also says, ‘Most of the largest sequoias are really just middle-aged. But they’re still growing like teenagers. Each year, it adds enough wood to make a tree one ft (30 cm) in diameter and more than 100 ft (30 m) tall’. He adds, ‘The relative youth of the world’s largest tree comes as something of a surprise’.12
Plant biologists agree, and even expect, that these vigorously-growing, magnificent ancient trees could continue to grow for many thousands of years into the future. And they would expect, therefore, that there is no reason why many among them could not have started their life many, many thousands of years ago. But there is no evidence that any of them predate the Flood. Even with the assumptive cross-matching method, the cut-off number seems to be around 4½ to 5 thousand rings. This is strongly consistent with expectations based on the Bible.
Why no older trees?The fact that the magnificent patriarchs of the forest discussed here have stood silently growing for thousands of years gives glory to God, the Master Designer. It also suggests that they must be virtually impregnable to attack by natural pests, diseases, wildfires and the like. The dilemma for long-age believers, who scoff at the Bible’s account of a global Flood, is this: if there are trees around that can last that long, why not longer? Why are there none growing today which are, say, 7, 8 or 9 thousand years old by straight-forward tree-ring counting?
This is no mystery to the Bible believer, as it is firm evidence consistent with God’s Word. The Bible’s record of a global Flood is true and can be trusted.
Long-age plant claims witherThere have been many claims of plants other than trees being supposedly older than 10,000 years, including the King’s Holly of Tasmania (which was based on fossil remains near the plant) and a colony of Box Huckleberry (based on growth estimates over an area of 25 km2/10 miles2) in Pennsylvania, USA. The most notable claims, however, have been about the Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentate) of North America. It is a very common, unspectacular-looking shrub that thrives in the extreme, hot desert regions of both North and South America. The ‘granddaddy’ of them all is a plant named ‘King Clone’. Found in 1980, it was claimed to be 11,700 years old. But this date has been much revised, with scientists now speculating about an age of 7,500 years or less.1
In times of drought, the Creosote Bush looks more dead than alive. When there is plentiful water, it bursts to life with a foliage of waxy green leaves that ‘colours’ the desert. When crushed, its resins smell like creosote,2 hence its name.
Its growth cycle begins as a single plant. As the original shrub gets older, the stem and branches at its centre die and get covered with sand. However, the branches on the outward edges continue to grow to become the main plant. This process is repeated over and over again (for many years) as each new bush grows and dies, eventually forming rings of small creosote bushes stretching out over many hundreds of metres. This is a form of natural cloning.3
Dating is assumed by estimating the growth rate at which the rings of bushes increase. The debate regarding the age of King Clone demonstrates the inexactness of this uniformitarian approach; it is impossible to accurately determine a plant’s age based on current growth rates.
References and notes
References and notes
- We are here using the word ‘living’ in a biological sense. By Biblical usage, plants are not nephesh chayyah (נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה = living creatures), hence their biological death does not have the same Biblical significance as that of those creatures that are (antelopes, for instance). Return to text.
- Discovery, 1 July 2002. Return to text.
- Variable production of growth rings in Bristlecone Pines, 26 June 2002. Return to text.
- Morris, H.M., The Biblical Basis for Modern science, Master Books, Green Forest, p. 418, 2002. Return to text.
- A paper is in preparation for the next International Conference on Creationism, as well as for submission to CMI’s refereed journal, Journal of Creation. Return to text.
- Living tree ‘8,000 older than Christ’(?), Creation 17(3):26, 1995. Return to text.
- Growth characteristics, 1 July 2002. Return to text.
- Among the oldest living beings, 2 July 2002. Return to text.
- Trees, 2 July 2002. Return to text.
- Apparently, one ancient Bristlecone was felled by a young student for research purposes. Return to text.
- Humungus fungus,
, 30 July 2002. Return to text.
- Largest tree a mere stripling, 11 December 2000. Return to text.
- A new age for the world’s largest tree,
, 12 December 2000. Return to text.
Tree ring dating (dendrochronology) has been used in an attempt to extend the calibration of carbon-14 dating earlier than historical records allow, but this depends on temporal placement of fragments of wood (from long-dead trees) using carbon-14 dating.Tree ring dating (dendrochronology) has been used in an attempt to extend the calibration of carbon-14 dating earlier than historical records allow. The oldest living trees, such as the Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva) of the White Mountains of Eastern California, were dated in 1957 by counting tree rings at 4,723 years old. This would mean they pre-dated the Flood which occurred around 4,350 years ago, taking a straightforward approach to Biblical chronology.
However, when the interpretation of scientific data contradicts the true history of the world as revealed in the Bible, then it’s the interpretation of the data that is at fault. It’s important to remember that we have limited data, and new discoveries have often overturned previous ‘hard facts’.
Recent research on seasonal effects on tree rings in other trees in the same genus, the plantation pine Pinus radiata, has revealed that up to five rings per year can be produced and extra rings are often indistinguishable, even under the microscope, from annual rings. As a tree physiologist I would say that evidence of false rings in any woody tree species would cast doubt on claims that any particular species has never in the past produced false rings. Evidence from within the same genus surely counts much more strongly against such the notion. Creationists have shown that the biblical kind is usually larger than the ‘species’ and in many cases even larger than the ’genus’ — see my article Ligers and wholphins? What next?.
Considering that the immediate post-Flood world would have been wetter with less contrasting seasons until the Ice Age waned (see Q&A: Ice Age), many extra growth rings would have been produced in the Bristlecone pines (even though extra rings are not produced today because of the seasonal extremes). Taking this into account would bring the age of the oldest living Bristlecone Pine into the post-Flood era.
Claimed older tree ring chronologies depend on the cross-matching of tree ring patterns of pieces of dead wood found near living trees. This procedure depends on temporal placement of fragments of wood using carbon-14 (14C) dating, assuming straight-line extrapolation backwards of the carbon dating. Having placed the fragment of wood approximately using the 14C data, a matching tree-ring pattern is sought with wood that has a part with overlapping 14C age and that also extends to a younger age. A tree ring pattern that matches is found close to where the carbon ‘dates’ are the same. And so the tree-ring sequence is extended from the living trees backwards.
Now superficially this sounds fairly reasonable. However, it is a circular process. It assumes that it is approximately correct to linearly extrapolate the carbon ‘clock’ backwards. There are good reasons for doubting this. The closer one gets back to the Flood the more inaccurate the linear extrapolation of the carbon ‘clock’ would become, perhaps radically so. Conventional carbon-14 dating assumes that the system has been in equilibrium for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, and that 14C is thoroughly mixed in the atmosphere. However, the Flood buried large quantities of organic matter containing the common carbon isotope, 12C, so the 14C/12C ratio would rise after the Flood, because 14C is produced from nitrogen, not carbon. These factors mean that early post-Flood wood would look older than it really is and the ‘carbon clock’ is not linear in this period (see The Creation Answers Book, chapter 4).
The biggest problem with the process is that ring patterns are not unique. There are many points in a given sequence where a sequence from a new piece of wood matches well (note that even two trees growing next to each other will not have identical growth ring patterns). Yamaguchi1 recognized that ring pattern matches are not unique. The best match (using statistical tests) is often rejected in favour of a less exact match because the best match is deemed to be ‘incorrect’ (particularly if it is too far away from the carbon-14 ‘age’). So the carbon ‘date’ is used to constrain just which match is acceptable. Consequently, the calibration is a circular process and the tree ring chronology extension is also a circular process that is dependent on assumptions about the carbon dating system.2
The extended tree ring chronologies are far from absolute, in spite of the popular hype. To illustrate this we only have to consider the publication and subsequent withdrawal of two European tree-ring chronologies. According to David Rohl,3 the Sweet Track chronology from Southwest England was ‘re-measured’ when it did not agree with the published dendrochronology from Northern Ireland (Belfast). Also, the construction of a detailed sequence from southern Germany was abandoned in deference to the Belfast chronology, even though the authors of the German study had been confident of its accuracy until the Belfast one was published. It is clear that dendrochronology is not a clear-cut, objective dating method despite the extravagant claims of some of its advocates.
ConclusionExtended tree ring chronology is not an independent confirmation/calibration of carbon dating earlier than historically validated dates, as has been claimed.
- Yamaguchi, D.K., Interpretation of cross-correlation between tree-ring series. Tree Ring Bulletin 46:47–54, 1986. Return to text.
- Newgrosh, B., Living with radiocarbon dates: a response to Mike Baillie. Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum 5:59–67, 1992. Return to text.
- Rohl, David, A Test of Time, Arrow Books, London, Appendix C, 1996. Return to text.
Remember, C-14 dating is unreliable and it is what Darwinists LOVE to use to assign dates to things. Why do you suppose that is? Why do you suppose they ignore the helium present in granitic zircons? Why do they ignore polonium radiohalos? Why is it that the magma temperatures support the rapid tectonic plate subduction associated with the Flood and Darwinists ignore that, too? I say Darwinists do not want to know the truth and will ignore evidence and perhaps even destroy it to avoid their brutish inelegant foolish worldview to continue to be promoted to the unwitting world. Makes sense to me. You, the reader, are responsible for your own education. You are responsible for your own destiny. You are unwise to just believe what you are told without thinking about it critically. If you investigate the evidence carefully and decide that you are a Darwinist, then you have done due diligence. But don't swallow it whole without knowing what it really is and what it really says. Don't worry, I will help!
Okay, one more on Biblical Geology:
Don't varves prove that world is older than the Bible says?Varves are rock formations with alternating layers of fine dark, and coarse light sediment. Annual changes are assumed to deposit bands with light layers in summer and dark layers in winter. It is reported that some rock formations contain hundreds of thousands of varves, thereby ‘proving’ the earth is much older than the Bible says. But the assumption that each couplet always takes a year to form is wrong. Recent catastrophes show that violent events like the Flood described in Genesis can deposit banded rock formations very quickly. The Mount St Helens eruption in Washington State produced eight metres (25 feet) of finely layered sediment in a single afternoon! And a rapidly pumped sand slurry was observed to deposit about a metre (3–4 feet) of fine layers on a beach over an area the size of a football field (cross-section shown on the right: normal silica sand grains are separated by darker layers of denser mineral grains like rutile).
When sedimentation was studied in the laboratory, it was discovered that fine bands form automatically as the moving water transports the different sized particles sideways into position. Surprisingly, the thickness of each band was found to depend on the relative particle sizes rather than on the flow conditions. A layered rock (diatomite) was separated into its particles, and when redeposited in flowing fluid, identical layers formed.
Much is often made of the Green River varves, in Wyoming, USA. But these bands cannot possibly be annual deposits because well-preserved fish and birds are found all through the sediments.
It is unthinkable that these dead animals could have rested on the bottom of the lake for decades, being slowly covered by sediment. Their presence indicates catastrophic burial. It is often claimed that the fish and birds remained in prime condition at the bottom of the lake because the water was highly alkaline and this preserved their carcasses. Yet highly alkaline water causes organic material to disintegrate, and that is why alkaline powder is used in dishwashers! Some sceptics have claimed that alkali merely ‘cuts grease’, evidently ignorant of the elementary chemistry involved, i.e. base-catalyzed hydrolysis of polymers, which would do the opposite of preserving the fish. Another problem for the varve explanation is that the number of bands is not consistent across the formation as it should be if they were annual deposits.
But evaporites need more time than the Bible allowsSimilar bands in some huge deposits containing calcium carbonate and calcium sulphate in Texas are used to argue the case for long ages. One explanation says the deposits were formed when the sun evaporated seawater—hence the term ‘evaporite deposits’. Naturally, to make such large deposits in this way would take a long time. However, the high chemical purity of the deposits shows they were not exposed to a dry, dusty climate for thousands of years. Rather, it is more likely that they formed rapidly from the interaction between hot and cold seawater during undersea volcanic activity—a hydrothermal deposit.
There are too many fossils to have lived on earth at one timeThis argument claims that if all the fossil animals could be resurrected, they would cover the entire planet to a depth of at least 0.5 metres (1.5 feet). So they could not have come from a single generation of living creatures buried by the Flood.
Not surprisingly, the substance disappears when the detail is examined. The number of fossils is calculated from an abnormal situation—the Karroo formation in South Africa. In this formation the fossils comprise a ‘fossil graveyard’—the accumulation of animal remains in a local ‘sedimentary basin’. It is certainly improper to apply this abnormally high population density to the whole earth. The calculation also uses incorrect information on today's animal population densities and takes no account of the different conditions that likely applied before the Flood.
But there is too much coal for a young earthAnother argument used against the Bible time-line is that the pre-Flood world could not have produced enough vegetation to make all the coal. But again, this argument is based on wrong assumptions. The pre-Flood land area was almost certainly greater before all the Floodwaters were released onto the surface of the earth. Also, the climate was probably much more productive before the Flood. Furthermore, it has been discovered that much coal was derived from forests which floated on water. So, calculations based only on the area of land would be wrong. And finally, the estimates of how much vegetation is needed are based on the wrong idea that coal forms slowly in swamps and that most of the vegetation rots. The Flood would have buried the vegetation quickly, producing a hundred times more coal than from a swamp.
Fossil forests prove that the world is oldThe petrified forests of Yellowstone National Park have often been used to argue against Bible chronology. These were once interpreted as buried and petrified in place—as many as 50 successive times, with a brand new forest growing upon the debris of the previous one. Naturally, such an interpretation would require hundreds of thousands of years to deposit the whole sequence and is inconsistent with the Bible time-scale. But this interpretation is also inconsistent with the fact that the tree trunks and stumps have been broken off at their base and do not have proper root systems. Furthermore, trees from different layers have the same ‘signature’ ring pattern, demonstrating that they all grew at the same time.
Rather than 50 successive forests, the geological evidence is more consistent with the trees having been uprooted from another place, and carried into position by catastrophic volcanic mudflows — similar to what happened during the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980, where waterlogged trees were also seen to float and sink with the root end pointing downwards.
How could Noah cover the ark with pitch if pitch formed during the Flood?The origin of pitch is also used to ridicule the account of Noah in the Bible. Pitch is a petroleum residue, we are told, and creationists say that petroleum was formed by the Flood. So, where did Noah get the pitch to seal the Ark (Genesis 6:14)? This old argument stems from ignorance of how pitch can be made. The widespread use of petroleum is a 20th century phenomenon. How did they seal wooden ships hundreds of years ago before petroleum was available? In those days, pitch was made from pine tree resin.30 A huge pitch-making industry flourished to service the demand.
Is there too much sedimentary rock?Some attempts to discredit the Bible are wildly absurd—like the idea that there is too much sedimentary rock in the world to have been deposited by the one-year Flood. It is claimed that the Ark would have floated on an ocean of ‘earthy soup’ and no fish could have survived. This argument takes no account of how water actually carries sediment. The claim naïvely assumes that all the sediment was evenly mixed in all the water throughout the Flood year, as if thoroughly stirred in a ‘garden fishpond’. Sedimentation does not occur like this. Instead, moving water transports sediment into a ‘basin’ and, once deposited, it is isolated from the system. The same volume of water can pick up more sediment as it is driven across the continents, for example, by earth movements during the Flood.
Don't coral reefs take millions of years to grow?Actually, what was thought to be ‘coral reef’ turns out to be thick carbonate platforms, most probably deposited during the Flood. The reef is only a very thin layer on top. In other cases, the ‘reef’ did not grow in place from coral but was transported there by water.
Don't chalk deposits take millions of years to accumulate?Chalk accumulation is not steady state but highly episodic. Under cataclysmic Flood conditions, explosive blooms of tiny organisms like coccolithophores could produce the chalk beds in a short space of time.
But granites need millions of years to coolNot when the cooling effects of circulating water are allowed for.
Metamorphic rocks take millions of years to formMetamorphic reactions happen quickly when there is plenty of water, just as the Flood would provide.
It would take millions of years to erode kilometers of sediment covering metamorphic rocksOnly at the erosion rates observed today. There is no problem eroding kilometres of sediment quickly with large volumes of fast-moving water during the Flood.
For more details, including references where further information can be obtained, see Geology and the Young Earth.