Getting to know the three sisters reveals more than just natural beauty
Each year, millions of tourists visit Katoomba, a city one hour’s drive west of Sydney, Australia’s biggest city. There they enjoy the spectacular Three Sisters. These ‘ladies’ are not a group of performers, but a huge rock outcrop. Set in a World Heritage Area of the Blue Mountains, the Sisters are now something of an Australian icon.
Near the lookout at Echo Point, the Sisters watch over an impressive valley. On a clear day, Kings Tableland looms in the distance (see panorama, left). Throughout the day, the vista alters as the changing sunlight transforms the magnificent colours of the Three Sisters. At night, their floodlit shape looks stunning against the blackness of the night sky.
Most visitors don’t realize they are looking at compelling evidence for the global Flood described in the Bible.
It’s not difficult to appreciate that the sandstone covers an immense area. From the lookout, we can see that the same rocks form steep cliffs all around the gorge. Before the magnificent valley was eroded, the sandstone strata covered a large area.
Vast sizeBut the strata extend much further than we can see from the lookout. From Katoomba they reach 160 km (100 miles) south, 160 km north, and 160 km to the east—an immense rectangular deposit of sediment (see Figure 1).1 Geologists call it the Sydney Basin, the resting place for massive volumes of sediment eroded from the Lachlan Fold Belt to the west, and the New England Fold Belt to the east.
Many geologists consider the Sydney Basin is the southern end of a 250-km (160-mile) wide system extending 2,000 km (1,200 miles) north (Figure 2).2 The immense size of the deposit is evidence for catastrophe—but there’s more.
Deposited catastrophicallyWe see that the sand in the Three Sisters is deposited in layers. The road cuttings in the area give a better view, or we can examine the overlying Hawkesbury Sandstone that forms steep cliffs around Sydney (Figure 4). Joining the prominent, horizontal layers is a faint, inclined layering called ‘cross bedding.’ This indicates that the sand was deposited by flowing water.
From the size of the cross beds, geologist Dr Patrick Conaghan, Senior Lecturer at the School of Earth Sciences at Macquarie University, determined the conditions under which the sand was deposited. In 1994 he described a wall of water up to 20 m (65 feet) high and 250 km (150 miles) wide coming down from the north at enormous speed.4 This catastrophic interpretation is consistent with what we would expect during the Biblical Flood.
The sandstone formations are very thick, ranging from 100 m (330 ft) to 200 m (660 ft) or more.1 To accumulate such thick deposits of sand, the water level in the Sydney Basin must have risen continuously. Otherwise, the sand would have been carried through the area to deeper water. Yet, in the thick sandstone formations, there are no indications of extended time breaks between deposition (e.g. inhabited horizons containing preserved fossil communities). Deposition from the fast-flowing water was continuous in an ever-deepening basin.
Click here for larger view
Thus the Three Sisters speak of unusual catastrophic deposition, consistent with the global Flood described in the Bible. The sand was deposited as the water level was increasing on the Earth, during the first part of the one-year Flood—the Inundatory stage.5 Some of the sand formations may have been deposited in just a few days.2
At first the water flowed in sheets, shaving flat vast areas of the continent sometimes producing ‘planation’ surfaces. Then, as the flow reduced, the water cut wide valleys like those we see around the Sydney area. As the volume of water continued to decrease, narrower valleys were cut at the edges of plateaus, like those we see from the Three Sisters lookout (Echo Point).
In the late 1700s, these steep cliffs prevented the early settlers of Sydney finding their way through the Blue Mountains to more grazing land. The first explorers followed the rivers, only to be stopped by the steep cul-de-sacs at the ends of the valleys. Little did they realize that these obstacles were produced by the drainage of Noah’s floodwater. Then, in 1813, the famous explorers Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson found their way using an innovative ridge-top route—by following the eroded remnants of the uplifted plateau.6
What about carbon dating?One reason people don’t connect the Three Sisters with Noah’s Flood is that the rocks are supposed to be about 230 million years old. At this age they obviously could not have formed in a flood 4,500 years ago. However, there is a problem with the way rocks are dated. Basically, long-age geologists get the dates wrong because they make wrong assumptions about the past. In particular, they ignore the catastrophic effects of Noah’s Flood.
For these rocks, long-age geologists have assigned an age of around 230 million years based on their fossil content and their relative position in the sequence of rock layers in the region. Recently, a creationist geologist measured the carbon-14 content of a piece of wood found in a quarry in the overlying Hawkesbury Sandstone.7 Long-age geologists wouldn’t bother analyzing for carbon-14 because they believe the rock is 230 million years old. All carbon-14 should have disappeared by 50,000 years, at the most. There should be no carbon-14 left. However, the analysis confirmed a small but significant amount of carbon-14 in the wood—clear evidence that the sandstone is less than 50,000 years old. The small level of carbon-14 does not reflect an age, but rather the low concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere before the Flood (carbon-14 has been building up since the Flood).
Evidence of Noah’s FloodThe Three Sisters are an Australian tourist icon. They are also evidence of Noah’s Flood. These sandstone monuments display evidence of large-scale catastrophic deposition and immense watery erosion. That is exactly what we would expect from Noah’s Flood. Not only are the Three Sisters an icon of Australia, they are also an icon of the reliability of the Bible.
The phenomenon of vertical fossil tree trunks
Photo by Andrew Taylor
This sandstone is part of the Gosford Formation. Lying under the Hawkesbury Sandstone, it is approximately equivalent to the formation comprising the Three Sisters, over 100 km (60 miles) west. Excellent cross bedding is obvious in the layers above the logs.
The blocky appearance of the deposit and the cross bedding point to deposition from deep, fast-flowing water.
The thickness of the deposit indicates that the water was continually deepening as the sand was being deposited.
These logs did not grow here but were washed into place.
The trunks are broken with no sign of soil or roots. They testify to the violent forces which uprooted and smashed an ancient forest, sorting roots and trunks from leaves and branches.
The leaves and branches were deposited in other strata of the Sydney Basin. They form the coal measures that are now mined for power generation.
Update 15 September 2008: Since writing this report I have been able to inspect close up these vertical objects at Box Head and discuss their identification with others. I described them here as being vertical logs but on closer inspection in the field they seem instead to be unusual iron concretions. There are numerous other vertical concretions of various shapes in the sandstone in that area. Even as iron concretions these objects are unusual in their shape and orientation.
Although these particular objects do not now appear to be tree trunks, it does not alter the fact that these sandstone deposits comprising the cliffs and the wave platform were deposited very quickly over a huge area pointing to the fact that the Sydney basin was formed by a large watery catastrophe, consistent with Noah’s Flood.
- Jones, D.C. and Clark, N.R. (Eds.), Geology of the Penrith 1:100,000 Sheet 9030, New South Wales Geological Survey, Sydney, 1991. Return to text.
- Allen, D., Sediment transport and the Genesis Flood—Case studies including the Hawkesbury Sandstone, Sydney, CEN Tech. J. 10(3):358–378, 1996. Return to text.
- Austin, S.A. (Ed.), Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, Institute for Creation Research, California, pp. 33–35, 1994. Return to text.
- Woodford, J., Rock doctor catches up with our prehistoric surf, The Sydney Morning Herald 30 April, 1994, p. 2. For more detail, see: Conaghan, P.J., The Hawkesbury Sandstone: gross characteristics and depositional environment, Bulletin, Geological Survey of New South Wales 26:188–253, 1980. Return to text.
- Walker, T.B., A Biblical geologic model, In: Walsh, R.E. (Ed.), Proceedings of The Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 581–592, 1994; www.uq.net.au/~zztbwalk. Return to text.
- Info Blue Mountains History Plaza, info.mountains.net.au/history/crossing_3ex.htm 29 November 2002. Return to text.
- Snelling, A.A., Dating dilemma: fossil wood in ‘ancient’ sandstone, Creation 21(3):39–41, 1999. Return to text.
Interestingly, there is another Three Sisters formation that had a collapse in 2009 that took the top off of the middle "Sister." Do you catch the language in the age.com au article that unconsciously supports the creationist position? I'll bold the words so you do not miss them!
One of the 'Three Sisters' sea stacks crumbled into the ocean on a weekend of high winds and punishing seas.
It was earlier thought the rock formation which collapsed was one of the Twelve Apostles, but a Parks Victoria spokesperson confirmed it was one of three smaller pillars sitting behind an outcropping known as the Razorback.
"They are not part of the Apostles," said Port Campbell National Park ranger Natasha Johnson.
Ms Johnson said the Southern Ocean soft limestone cliffs are a work-in-progress, with nature constantly redefining the shape of the coastline.
Earlier this month, a large section of cliff fell into the sea about a kilometre from the lookout at the Twelve Apostles. In June this year, the Island Archway near Loch Ard Gorge collapsed leaving two stone pillars jutting from the ocean. In 2005, the Twelve Apostles were reduced to eight when a large stack crumbled into the sea.
"...Southern Ocean soft limestone cliffs are a work-in-progress, with nature constantly redefining the shape of the coastline. "
Geologist Dr Tasman Walker of Creation Ministries International said that the famous ‘Twelve Apostles’ off the coast of Victoria, Australia have eroded much faster than most people imagine.
Australians were shocked to learn that one of the ‘Twelve Apostles’ crumpled into the Southern Ocean just after 9 am on Sunday 3 July 2005, leaving just a heap of rubble.
A Sydney family touring the area captured remarkable before-and-after images of the disintegrated rock formation.
The 50-metre-high sea stack, second from the viewing platform, began to shimmer and collapsed into a heap within seconds.
A Parks Victoria spokesperson said she was shocked by the collapse.
‘Most geologists do not appreciate the geological effects of Noah’s Flood,’ says Walker. ‘If they did, people would be more aware of geological hazards, and not think that the rocks are a permanent feature of the landscape.’
The Twelve Apostles are icons of the Australian landscape. They are featured around the world as a symbol of the Commonwealth Games being hosted in Melbourne in 2006.
The changed landscape means the many photos and tourist promotions may have to be re-shot.
Before the collapse, the Twelve Apostles numbered nine, but now they are only eight.
Alex Green, the local Parks Victoria ranger said ‘It was one of the bigger [stacks] and integral to what used to be the view.’
It was almost like a building being demolished straight down on itself. The debris has turned the ocean muddy brown but the rubble is expected to vanish within weeks.
Geologist Walker said, ‘These eroding Apostles have a similar message to the original Apostles of Jesus’ time, one concerned with the authority and reliability of God’s Word. This world is young, just as the Bible records.’