Ancient Ice Ages AND Submarine Landslides, but NOT Noah's Flood: a review of M.J. Oard's assault on multiple glaciations
Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D. (Copyright, December 5, 1999)
Kevin Henke has a Ph.D in geology from the University of North Dakota (i.e., South Canada). He is now with the University of Kentucky, USA.
The book Rock Solid Answers: The Biblical Truth Behind 14 Geological Questions by young-Earth creationists (YECs) Michael Oard and Dr. John K. Reed contains two chapters (Oard 2009a and Oard 2009b) that extensively criticize some of the statements in my 1999 webessay on ancient glaciations, below. Although Oard (2009a) and Oard (2009b) attempted to respond to some of the numerous problems in Oard (1997), he was unable to identify any substantial errors in my webessay that would allow him to salvage his YEC agenda.
Besides the gross misunderstandings of actualism and other issues in Oard and Reed (2009), the criticisms of my webessay in Oard (2009a) and Oard (2009b) typically involve trivial arguments over wording or outright invalid claims that result from Mr. Oard misreading the scientific literature or omitting evidence that refutes his Flood geology agenda (see https://sites.google.com/site/respondingtocreationism/ for many specific examples). That is, Oard (2009a) and Oard (2009b) often consist of cherry-picking sentences or sentence fragments out of the 21st century scientific literature and blatantly ignoring geochemical, mineralogical, textural, stratigraphic, structural, paleontological, sedimentary, facies and other evidence in the rest of the articles that refutes young-Earth creationism. In fact, Oard (2009a) and (2009b) did not identify a single 21st century scientific reference that questions the existence of glaciations in the Ordovician, Late Paleozoic or Late Precambrian. Currently, the evidence for these glaciations and against Flood geology is stronger and more extensive than ever.
Responses to the numerous invalid claims in Oard (2009a), Oard (2009b), elsewhere in Oard and Reed (2009), and in other young-Earth creationist literature have been posted at my website: https://sites.google.com/site/respondingtocreationism/
If you remain skeptical of my claims after studying the essays at my website, I would encourage you to have an open mind and buy Oard and Reed (2009) and Oard (1997) or check them out from a library and compare their claims to mine and all of the evidence and data in the literature that we cite. We can then discuss it.
Kevin R. Henke
May 8, 2014
- Oard, M.J. 1997. Ancient Ice Ages or Gigantic Submarine Landsides? Creation Research Society, Monograph No. 5, Chino Valley, AZ.
- Oard, M.J. and J.K. Reed (editors). 2009. Rock Solid Answers: The Biblical Truth Behind 14 Geological Questions, Master Books: Green Forest, AR, 272 pp.
- Oard, M.J. 2009a. “Landslides Win in a Landslide over Ancient 'Ice Ages'“, chapter 7 in M.J. Oard and J.K. Reed (editors). 2009. Rock Solid Answers: The Biblical Truth Behind 14 Geological Questions, Master Books: Green Forest, AR, pp. 111-123.
- Oard, M.J. 2009b. “Do Varves Contradict Biblical History?”, chapter 8 in M.J. Oard and J.K. Reed (editors). 2009. Rock Solid Answers: The Biblical Truth Behind 14 Geological Questions, Master Books: Green Forest, AR, pp. 125-148.
The geologic record indicates that glaciations have occurred during the Pleistocene, Carboniferous-Permian, Ordovician, Precambrian and at other times during the Earth's history. Most Young-Earth creationists (YECs) are willing to accept the existence of one Pleistocene glaciation, which supposedly occurred after Noah's Flood. However, they recognize that multiple Pleistocene and any pre-Pleistocene glaciations threaten the very foundation of YECism, that is, an Earth that is less than 10,000 years old and a geologic record that supposedly formed from a year-long world-wide Biblical Flood. Glaciers simply cant develop in the middle of Noahs Flood and, according to the YEC view of Genesis, the Earth is too young to have multiple waxing and waning ice sheets. Because of these threats, YECs will do everything they can to undermine the reality of multiple Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene glaciations. Michael J. Oard is the leading YEC spokesperson on glaciations. Oard has a written a number of articles and books attacking multiple Pleistocene glaciations and the existence of any pre-Pleistocene glaciers. This report evaluates Oard's attack on pre-Pleistocene glaciations in his 1997 book, "Ancient Ice Ages or Gigantic Submarine Landslides?"
As part of their crusade, Oard and his allies argue that ALL pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are actually submarine mass flows, tectonic features, and meteorite impact debris that formed during "Noah's Flood". A review of Oard's book clearly shows that it is full of scientific errors, blatant misquotations of the literature, omissions of field and laboratory data that refute YECism, outdated references, and unjustified interpretations of scientific data.
Glaciations are not mentioned in the Bible, but the evidence for Pleistocene glaciations is so overwhelming that most young-Earth creationists ("YECs") are now forced to somewhat deal with their reality. M.J. Oard, the chief YEC spokesperson on glaciations, argues for ONE brief glaciation that supposedly resulted from the environmental chaos after "Noah's Flood" (Oard, 1990). However, the geologic record not only indicates that there were multiple Pleistocene glaciations, but that glaciers also existed during the Carboniferous-Permian, Ordovician, Precambrian and at other times during the Earth's history. These multiple glaciations threaten the entire foundation of young Earth, "Flood geology" creationism. First of all, they are incompatible with the popular YEC view of a warm pre-Flood paradise and the idea that most of the geologic record formed from a year-long world-wide Biblical Flood. Glaciers just can't slowly develop and exist in the middle of a chaotic Biblical Flood. Secondly, YECs insist that the Earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old and that's not enough time for glaciers to develop, melt, and redevelop numerous times. Oard (1997, p. 3-7) openly admits these problems. Because of these threats, M.J. Oard and other YECs will do everything they can to undermine the reality of pre-Pleistocene glaciations. As part of their crusade, YECs argue that ALL pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits were actually submarine mass flows, tectonic features, and meteorite impact debris associated with "Noahs Flood".
Oard (1997) summarizes the YEC assault against pre-Pleistocene multiple glaciations. This report evaluates the claims in Oard (1997) along with examples of how Oard's "Flood geology" is incompatible with detailed observations of some geologic deposits.
HISTORICAL GEOLOGY: JUST GUESS WORK?
Oard (p. 2) recognizes that radiometric dating and various features in the geologic record, such as ancient soils, evaporites, and glacial deposits, are serious problems for "Flood geology" and YEC claims for a 6,000 to 10,000 year old Earth. He (p. 2-3) uses a number of arguments to attempt to minimize the impacts of these geological threats. First of all, he argues that geology is largely untestable, since it is mostly based on past events that were unwitnessed and cannot be repeated in a laboratory. While scientists can often repeat chemistry and physics experiments in a laboratory, geological events, like the Cretaceous-Tertiary impact(s), cannot be repeated and were not witnessed and recorded by humans. YECs then argue: "Who knows for sure what happened, since geology is based on unwitnessed, unrepeatable past events? Studying the past is just a matter of faith". Well, defense attorneys use the same, often lame, arguments against forensic evidence at murder trials. "Who knows if my client was involved in this crime? The prosecution has no eyewitnesses. The prosecution can't reproduce the crime or go back in time to see what really happened. The prosecution's case is based on guess work and faith." Nevertheless, people are convicted of murder solely on circumstantial evidence and a lack of repeatability and eyewitnesses doesn't seem to stop YEC-saturated states, like Florida or Texas, from executing convicts. Perhaps, if YECs were really worried about the unreliability of scientific evidence that is based solely on past events, they would call for an end to the death penalty for unwitnessed or unrecorded crimes. Unlike forensic science, if geologic data are misinterpreted, there's no risk of innocent people being sent to the electric chair.
In a series of related arguments, Oard (p. 3) accuses geologists of having simplified interpretations of complex and often poorly exposed rocks. Because Oard feels that geology models are "simplified", he believes that geologists are seriously misinterpreting evidence for Noahs Flood as glacial deposits. Oard (p. 3) further claims that there are too many unreliable assumptions and unknowns involved in geological interpretations to trust them.
It is true that geological models and interpretations are frequently poorly understood and often incomplete. At the same time, its very easy to accuse almost any data set of being too small and that more data are needed before a "reliable" interpretation can be made. This is "moving the goal posts" so the opposing team can never score a point.
Despite the shortcomings, our understanding of the Earth is good enough to predict and find petroleum and ore deposits. Furthermore, over the past 150 years, we have learned enough about desert sediments, glacial deposits, ancient soils, brine chemistry, pluton cooling and the laws of chemistry and physics to know that the geologic record is too diverse and complex, has too much history, and is often too dry or cold to have formed from "Noah's Flood" or during a six 24-hour day "Creation Week". While Oard may claim or wish that certain "Flood deposits" have been "misinterpreted" as glacial, desert and other deposits, the geologic evidence shows that marine deposits can be reliably distinguished from desert and glacial sediments, and some rocks, such as varves or salt deposits, simply show that they formed over long periods of time and/or in dry "Flood" incompatible climates. Facies and other sedimentary models actually allow geologists to make predictions about ancient depositional environments and locate the predicted rocks (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 619). The ability of these models to make predictions shows that theyre basically correct. Despite YEC misconceptions, distortions, and long laundry lists of zero quality arguments, radiometric dating is also largely consistent and has developed a history of the Earth that is detailed enough to entirely refute YECism (Dalrymple, 1984, 1991). The geologic record is the product of both ancient NATURAL catastrophes and long and slow processes, and it's neither chaotic nor "wet" enough to support a "Flood" origin. Instead of complaining about invalid assumptions made by geologists, Oard and other YECs need to first take the plank out of their own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5) by junking a much more serious obstacle to objective scientific research: a blind allegiance to Biblical literalism.
Finally, Oard (p. 3) admits that YECs have problems with geologic data because the geological effects of the "Genesis Flood" are poorly understood. As others have stated, perhaps the geology of the "Flood" is poorly understood because it never happened.
ACTUALISM vs. YEC MISCONCEPTIONS OF UNIFORMITARIANISM
At one time, geologists widely accepted Lyell uniformitarianism, which states that the natural processes affecting the geologic record today are the same processes that affected the record in the past and that the overall natural rates of erosion, deposition, volcanic eruptions, etc., are constant over time. Today, geologists recognize that natural rates are not constant. For example, erosion was probably higher before the evolution of land plants. Also, at times in the Earth's past, glaciers dominated the landscapes. At other times, such as the Cretaceous, glaciers may have been nearly or totally absent. Volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts may have been much more common at certain times during the Earths history (such as the early Precambrian) than at other times. During parts of the Paleozoic Era, large restricted marine basins in dry climates allowed for the production of abundant dolostones and thick salt (evaporite) deposits. Today, these deposits are not forming to any large extent because of the lack of large effectively restricted marine basins in dry climates.
Geologists also recognize that BOTH slow and gradual processes (such as varve deposition and evaporation to form salt deposits) and NATURAL catastrophes (such meteorite impacts, hurricanes and earthquakes) have affected the geologic record. Some of these natural events are extremely rare or even unique in the Earths history, such as the likely planet-wide glaciation(s) in the late Precambrian.
To emphasize the great differences between modern uniformitarianism and the long-rejected Lyell uniformitarianism of the mid-19th century, many geologists refer to modern uniformitarianism as actualism. Nevertheless, most YECs, including Steve Austin, the YEC's "authority" on uniformitarianism, do not even recognize that actualism is very different from Lyell uniformitarianism (Austin, 1984; Strahler, 1987, p. 453-454). Like most YECs, Oard has many misconceptions of actualism (p. 26, 32, and so on), which causes him to use many invalid strawperson arguments against geologists and their work. Examples of Oard's misconceptions are discussed below.
SCIENCE, UNLIKE YEC DOGMA, CORRECTS ITSELF
Scientists, like any other humans, sometimes make mistakes. Hopefully, they or their colleagues will quickly correct the mistakes. Scientists have methods, like the multiple working hypotheses, that are designed to minimize and correct errors. T.C. Chamberlain developed the multiple working hypotheses around 1890. I learned a modified version of the procedure as an undergraduate. It states that when scientists make an observation in the field or the laboratory, they should immediately think of as many possible natural explanations (hypotheses) to explain that observation. The explanations (plural) should be made on site where the evidence can be observed and not left for contemplation back in the office some time later. Next, scientists should design experiments and take measurements to test the hypotheses. Each hypothesis is treated like a child and is only rejected if the evidence demands it. As experiments and measurements progress, some hypotheses might be eliminated, but some may also be added. At the end of the research, the scientist may have one viable explanation, six possible explanations or none. The approach teaches that the scientist must be patient and realize that the "one true" explanation may not be found for some time, if ever. The goal of science is not to find "The True answer," but to evaluate possibilities and see what survives. In other words, this is "survival of the fittest" among competing hypotheses. Ideally, the multiple working hypotheses encourage patience, tolerance for alternative natural explanations, and an avoidance of "pet theories". The approach is supposed to encourage cooperation rather than conflict between scientists over "pet beliefs". That is, if a colleague comes up with another possible explanation, it is simply added to the list for further testing. That is, it becomes like an adopted child.
Some have criticized the multiple working hypotheses as being unrealistic or unworkable, and specifically too expensive and time-consuming (Johnson, 1990). Others have noted that scientists often ignore the method (Locke, 1990). Nevertheless, I have found the approach to be extremely valuable in my work as a geologist and geochemist over the past 17 years. Although individuals may not have the time or money to evaluate every hypothesis, different research institutions often can explore a great variety of explanations (Locke, 1990). For example, a number of hypotheses are being investigated for the cause(s) of mass extinctions, and not just the currently popular impact hypotheses. The key to good science, then, is to keep an open mind; evaluate a number of different hypotheses personally or by reviewing the literature of other researchers; and recognize that geologic events, such as glaciations or mass extinctions, may have multiple causes.
Although the apparent purpose of Chapter 2 in Oard (1997) is to show how often scientists make mistakes, time after time Oard really shows how science is self-correcting and how scientists continue to make important discoveries. Scientists, and not YECs, are finding and correcting mistakes in 20th century science.
Oard's major concern is that field geologists have misinterpreted mass flows, fault deposits, meteorite impact debris and other materials from "Noah's Flood" as ancient glacial deposits. However, these deposits have been repeatedly studied over the years and its now doubtful that YECs will have their prayers answered and that pre-Pleistocene glaciations will simply disappear. Geologists are very aware that careful field and laboratory studies are required to distinguish glacial from non-glacial features. Numerous papers and journal articles have been written on how to distinguish glacial deposits from non-glacial deposits, including mudflows and submarine slides. Oard mentions many of these papers (as examples: Eyles, 1993; Hambrey and Harland, 1981). Its obvious from these documents that geologists consider a number of explanations (multiple hypotheses) when they are determining the origins of poorly sorted rocks. As shown in this report and the literature, field geologists are not as gullible, biased, ignorant or incompetent as some YECs believe.
Oard (p. 12) also charges that maverick scientists, such as L.G.J. Schermerhorn, may be isolated and shunned by their colleagues because they wont conform to the status quo. However, rather than being maligned in peer-reviewed journals, Schermerhorn, a one-time non-conformist critic of most pre-Pleistocene glaciations, was often praised by his opponents. For example, Young (1976, p. 366) says:
"Schermerhorn's (1974) paper on Late Precambrian mixtites is highly commendable as a thorough and thought-provoking review."
Although disagreeing with him, Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) praises Schermerhorn (1971) for raising important questions about the interpretation of glacial deposits. Perhaps, Schermerhorn's opponents treated him like dirt outside of the journals, I dont know, but in peer-reviewed journals he's frequently cited and given respect. Im also sure that other maverick scientists could be found that claim that they have been unfairly shunned and isolated by their colleagues. Perhaps, they were unfairly persecuted or perhaps their ideas and methods were incompetent and they deserved to be ignored. The multiple working hypotheses are designed to fight unjustified biases among scientists. Nevertheless, I cant see how any maltreatment among scientists could possibly be as common or excessive as the cries of "heresy", labeling as "cults", denominational splits, disfellowshipping, bitter name calling, factional disputes, and acts of excommunication that are readily seen in modern conservative churches and YEC organizations. One only has to compare the polite, but frank, dialogues between Schermerhorn (1971, 1974), Fairbridge (1971a), and Young (1976) to the venomous ink of YEC Woodmorappe (1985, 1986) or the embarrassingly nasty letters to the editor in the YEC "Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal" (for example, v. 13, no. 1, 1999, p. 49f).
YECs also claim to have "peer-reviewed" journals, such as the "Creation Research Society Quarterly" and "Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal". However, a cursory review of these "journals" shows that they are filled with elementary errors that would be caught in real peer-reviewed journals (for example, the "ages" of several of the index fossils in the table on p. 138-139 of Woodmorappe, 1983). Furthermore, anything that openly criticizes YEC religious dogma is utterly absent. YEC Biblical dogma clearly controls everything in these magazines, which frequently produces claims that more closely resemble science fiction (Patten, 1987) or medieval papal bulls (Myers, 1987; Woodmorappe, 1983, p. 155) rather than science. In contrast, true peer review journals provide non-supernatural explanations for observations in nature, do not require the signing of doctrinal statements for associated organizational memberships, and do not invoke untestable supernatural causes to promote a particular religious or political agenda.
REINFORCEMENT SYNDROME AND WHO REALLY HAS THE PROBLEM
"Reinforcement syndrome" may be described as looking for or twisting data to support a preconceived idea. The twisted or imagined data then "reinforce" or provide "overwhelming support" for the preconceived idea. Reinforcement syndrome, obviously, is a form of circular reasoning (Oard, p. 11). Oard (p. 11-12) accuses supporters of pre-Pleistocene glaciations of practicing reinforcement syndrome. That is, he believes that geologists were convinced that pre-Pleistocene glaciations were real, so they looked through the geologic record until they found some "evidence" to support their beliefs. In other words, geologists claim that theres overwhelming evidence for pre-Pleistocene glaciations, but Oard (p. 11-17) argues theyve been deceived by reinforcement syndrome.
As a supposed example of reinforcement syndrome, Oard (p. 77-78) argues that once the Ordovician glacial deposits of North Africa were widely accepted, geologists started finding other evidence of Ordovician glaciations in the Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and elsewhere. While reinforcement syndrome must be avoided, reinterpreting outcrops as glacial deposits may not be so much a case of jumping on a bandwagon (reinforcement syndrome) as much as using the tools that others have recently discovered to reevaluate old ideas, test new hypotheses, and derive new interpretations. That is, recent discoveries of Ordovician glacial deposits in North Africa have provided geologists with new ways of identifying glacial deposits and new features to look for in their field studies. Therefore, with these new tools, we should not be surprised if other glacial deposits are discovered in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other regions that surrounded North Africa during the Ordovician. Further research will determine if the Ordovician deposits in the Middle East really are glacial or if Oard is correct and theyre examples of reinforcement syndrome.
Reinforcement syndrome is also a very convenient excuse for YECs. For ANY idea that they dont like, no matter if its overwhelmingly supported by numerous independent pieces of evidence, YECs can always argue that all of the evidence was contrived as part of a reinforcement syndrome conspiracy to keep "Biblical truths" out of science.
In reality, Oard (1997) is a prime example of reinforcement syndrome. Geology is twisted by Oard to support an unrealistic interpretation of the Bible. That is, Oard concludes that "Noahs Flood" was real, so he repeatedly misinterprets the scientific literature to support his Biblical biases and omits detailed information that would demolish his "Flood" ideas. Scientists, on the other hand, can avoid the "reinforcement syndrome" as long as they have brilliant maverick attitudes and refuse to surrender their skeptical minds and multiple hypotheses to ANY religious, political, philosophical or other dogma. The key to avoiding reinforcement syndrome is to have multiple scientists with multiple ideas study the outcrops. Furthermore, documents, such as Spencer (1971), provide valuable descriptions to distinguish glacial from non-glacial deposits. These documents and research approaches are far more effective in preventing reinforcement syndrome in geology than anything YECism has to offer.
DEFINING SOME GLACIAL TERMS
Glaciers can deposit sediments on land, lakes, seas and oceans. In the past, the terms "till" and "tillite" have often been used to refer to any glacial deposit sediment or rock, respectively. However, in recent years, the terms have been restricted to sediments and rocks that were deposited directly by glacial ice on land surfaces. Glacial features or sediments that form in marine environments are now identified as "glacial marine" or "glaciomarine" sediments and rocks. As Oard (p. 9-10) states, many geologists have recently concluded that rock and sediment terms should be less specific and more flexible about their possible depositional environments. For example, instead of tillite, the current preferred term is "diamictite", which refers to any poorly sorted rock that could form from a number of glacial or non-glacial processes, including landslides, mass flows, faults, and meteorite impacts. Sometimes the term "mixtite" is used instead of diamictite. Diamicts or diamictons are poorly sorted sediments or, in other words, unlithified equivalents of diamictites (Oard, p. 10).
This report will sometimes briefly define or describe certain terms and concepts as they are encountered. However, not every term or concept will be defined or described. Several excellent references (such as Benn and Evans, 1998 and Ritter, 1978) provide the necessary definitions and descriptions of these glacial terms and concepts.
HOW MANY GLACIATIONS?
As Oard indicates in chapter 2, attitudes towards glaciations among geologists have frequently swung back and forth over the past 150 years. At times, many geologists have been skeptical of most pre-Pleistocene glaciations, while at other times geologists were seeing glacial deposits in every geological period. Specifically, Harland (1972, p. 451) admits that 19th century and early 20th century workers sometimes misidentified poorly sorted rocks as "glacial deposits" and overestimated the number of pre-Pleistocene glaciations. Oard (p. 16), of course, quotes Harlands admission. Nevertheless, in the next sentence, which Oard (p. 16) ignores, Harland refuses to reject the reality of all pre-Pleistocene glaciations. He clearly states that theres now good evidence for the reality of the North African Ordovician glaciations. In contrast to some overzealous glacial advocates of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Oard rejects all pre-Pleistocene glaciations and represents the other, equally ridiculous extreme. While overzealous early workers could possibly be forgiven for not having all of the techniques and equipment that modern geologists have to distinguish glacial from non-glacial deposits (Oard, p.9), Oards religious-based extremism cannot be so easily excused.
Sometimes Oard's ideas on pre-Pleistocene glaciations are outdated. For example, Oard (p. 32) quotes Crowell (1978, p. 1364) as stating that there were no continental glaciers in Gondwana between the Ordovician and the Carboniferous/Permian. Although the current surviving deposits may be glaciomarine, since Crowell's statement in 1978, evidence of glaciations has been found in the Silurian of South America (Hambrey and Harland, 1981, p. 948) and Devonian of Brazil (Caputo, 1985).
PRE-PLEISTOCENE GLACIAL DEPOSITS: MOSTLY MARINE?
Originally, pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits were generally viewed as tillites, that is, poorly sorted sedimentary rocks directly deposited by glaciers on land surfaces. However, over the past 20 years, geologists have come to realize that most pre-Pleistocene and Quaternary glacial sediments were really glaciomarine, that is, glacially influenced marine deposits (Eyles, 1993, p. 1; Smith, 1997, p. 164). Thick glacial deposits more easily accumulate in marine basins than on continents were they're quickly attacked by erosion. For example, Smith (1997, p. 164) points out that North America has about 18 times more Quaternary glaciomarine sediments than continental glacial deposits. Substantial glacially derived materials may even accumulate in non-glacial basins, such as Quaternary sediments in the Gulf of Mexico (Smith, 1997, p. 164).
Although most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are now recognized as marine, there are still a number of them that are tillites or otherwise are known to have formed under non-marine conditions. For example, continental tillites are present in the Fersiga Group of western Africa (Bertrand-Sarfati et al., 1995, p. 135). A boundary between continent-based and marine Ordovician glacial deposits has also been identified in northern Africa (Beuf et al., 1971; Smith, 1997, p. 169).
For Oard, the change from non-marine to marine depositional environments for most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits is good news. Its easier to produce "Noahs Flood" deposits from glacial marine sediments than land-based tillites. Through a series of misquotations of the literature, Oard attempts to eliminate the remaining pre-Pleistocene tillites and other continent-based glacial materials. Oard (p. 19) begins by misquoting Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1313). When the quote is taken in context, however, Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1313) actually argue that their field sites in the late Precambrian of western Africa are valid examples of continent-based glacial deposits. The full quote is given below with the section that Oard (p. 19) only used in all capital letters:
"The late Precambrian glaciation of west Africa is a good example of widespread continental glacial deposits laid down on a relatively stable craton. This is particularly interesting because of the current opinion that ALMOST ALL ANCIENT GLACIAL DEPOSITS ARE MARINE (Crowell, 1964) AND DEPOSITED IN GEOSYNCLINAL OR OTHER UNSTABLE BELTS (Carey and Ahmad, 1960; Schermerhorn, 1974), for it is in these environments that there is much more chance of preservation. However, it is also in these environments that interpretation of these deposits is most difficult as is demonstrated by Schermerhorns (1974) article."
According to the references in Deynoux and Trompette (1976), the "current" opinion of marine environments for most glacial deposits goes back to at least Crowell (1964). Nevertheless, it is obvious that Oard (p. 19) misrepresents Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1313) by only quoting the section that is capitalized. Oard (p. 19) has refused to recognize that Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1313) claim to have a real example of a continent-based glacial deposit and that not all pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are marine.
Again, Oards ultimate goal is to eliminate the existence of any terrestrial glacial deposits by quoting references that suggest that they are really glaciomarine deposits or that they can't be distinguished from glaciomarine deposits. Once, Oard convinces his readers that "all" pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are possibly or likely glaciomarine, he may then more easily persuade his audience that the deposits actually formed under deep marine conditions during "Noahs Flood".
Oard (p. 20) attempts to undermine the ability to identify terrestrial glacial deposits by quoting Hambrey and Harland (1981, p. 22) and arguing that it may be difficult to distinguish glaciomarine deposits from tillites. However, in the case of Hambrey and Harland (1981, p. 22), Oard conveniently leaves out the rest of the quotation, which states that a glacial origin may be clearly demonstrated. The full quotation from Hambrey and Harland (1981, p. 22) is below, again with the sections that Oard (p. 20) only cites in capital letters:
"Moreover IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN MARINE AND TERRESTRIAL TILLITES, as recent work in Antarctica has shown ...[Hambrey and Harland's references omitted here.], although a glacial origin may clearly be demonstrated."
Oard (p. 19) also partially quotes Frakes (1985, p. 348, 349) on the difficulty of distinguishing tillites from glaciomarine deposits. Between the two sentences that Oard quotes, Frakes says some things that either Oard doesnt like or else he doesnt feel are important. Perhaps, Oard (p. 19) fails to quote the entire section because the full quotation indicates that iceberg dump deposits, which are incompatible with "Flood geology", are more common in pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits than what Oard (p. 24, 64) wants to believe. The full quotation with Oard's citation in all capital letters is:
"MANY DIAMICTITES WHICH OTHERWISE RESEMBLE TERRESTRIAL TILLITES OF EITHER LODGEMENT OR ABLATION ORIGIN, NEVERTHELESS ARE FOUND TO CONTAIN MARINE FOSSILS AND HENCE REQUIRE A DIFFERENT EXPLANATION OF MODE OF ORIGIN. For some of these it is likely that deposition was from icebergs heavily laden with debris, possibly under the earliest stages of glaciation ...[reference deleted], or in near-shore environments. The resultant deposit lacks any trace of the lamination normally generated in marine environments. In other cases, one can visualize lodgement occurring on a high relief sea floor in proximity to a grounded ice shelf. The point here is that while dropstone laminites are readily categorized as subaqueously deposited, water-laid deposits comprise many additional sediment types, some of which may not be so easily identified. In fact, dropstone laminites clearly originate in environments where melting of ice is relatively slow, either because the site is located at a distance from the ice source or because water temperatures are near freezing and melting is retarded. Subaqueous environments adjacent to ice bodies generate quite different, and lithologically diverse, deposits. IT FOLLOWS THAT ALL DIAMICTITES ARE SUSPECT AS TO WHETHER THEY WERE LAIN DOWN SUBAQUEOUSLY OR SUBAERIALLY."
In conclusion, the vast majority of pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are now recognized as marine, but many of them contain iceberg and other deposits that are incompatible with "Flood geology". Despite difficulties in distinguishing pre-Pleistocene tillites from glaciomarine deposits, tillites have been identified and their existence is fatal to YECism.
WERE PRE-PLEISTOCENE GLACIATIONS "UNUSUAL" WHEN COMPARED WITH PLEISTOCENE AND MODERN GLACIAL DEPOSITS?
In chapter 3, Oard attempts to portray pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits as being distinctly different from Pleistocene and modern glacial deposits, which he accepts as part of a "post-Flood ice age". On the basis of these supposed differences, Oard (p. 19) tries to argue that the pre-Pleistocene deposits are not really glacial. He often tries to support his views by quoting likely outdated references, such as Schwarzbach (1964).
Most of the well-known Pleistocene/modern glacial deposits are relatively thin and continental sediments in North America, Antarctica, and Eurasia. Again, thick Quaternary glaciomarine sediments are more abundant (Smith, 1997, p. 164), but are still largely in marine environments that are more difficult to study. In contrast, thanks to millions of years of tectonic uplifting, the surviving pre-Pleistocene glaciomarine deposits frequently crop out on continents, which tend to be easily accessible to geologists. It is also expected that thin Paleozoic and Precambrian continental tillites have largely eroded away over the past hundreds of millions of years. Not until Oard discusses the Ordovician deposits in northern Africa on p. 77, does he begin to realize the importance of erosion in destroying most thin continental glacial deposits over time.
Oards claims (p. 19) that pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits tend to have more conformable contacts with overlying and underlying non-glacial rocks when compared with Pleistocene and younger continental glacial deposits and their contacts. This claim is not always true. For example, Mustard and Donaldson (1987b, p. 353) note that unconformities associated with the Coleman Member of the glacial Precambrian Gowganda Formation were similar to subglacial erosional features that are commonly found in Pleistocene deposits. On the other hand, Oard's (p. 19) claims about the dissimilarities of pre-Pleistocene and Quaternary conformities would be expected if most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits formed under marine conditions (Eyles, 1993, p. 1), while the better-known Pleistocene/Holocene deposits formed subaerially on continents where erosion is more common and could readily produce unconformable contacts. Oard (p. 104) quotes Schermerhorn (1974, p. 698) to stress that conformities shouldnt exist between continental glacial sediments and overlying non-glacial marine sediments. However, Schermerhorn (1974, p. 698) also states that this problem vanishes once we recognize that most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits had a marine origin.
On the other hand, as thick and extensive glaciers melt, sea level tends to rise. So, contrary to Oards (p. 20) claims, if subaerial pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits formed near ancient shorelines, rising sea levels could produce essentially conformable contacts between non-glacial marine sediments and underlying low elevation terrestrial glacial deposits. In this situation, it is possible that pre-Pleistocene continental glacial deposits near ancient shorelines could appear conformably sandwiched between marine interglacial sediments.
Oard (p. 19) also notes that pre-Pleistocene deposits tend to be much more lithified than Pleistocene/modern glacial deposits. This is hardly surprising considering the age differences. The Paleozoic and Precambrian glacial deposits have had hundreds of millions of more years to develop tough silica cement when compared with the relatively young Pleistocene and modern deposits. Silica is not very soluble in water. However, over LONG periods of time, groundwater may dissolve quartz and other silicates, precipitate the silica as cement in sediments and transform the sediments into very hard sedimentary rocks (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 339-345). Contrary to the YEC nonsense in Austin (1984, p. 259-260), extensive silica cement takes millions of years to develop. Sigleo (1978) and Oehler (1976) have been misquoted and misused by Austin (1984, p. 259-260), but a careful reading of these references along with Leo and Barghoorn (1976) show how silica cementation is a SLOW process. That is, silica cement is a serious time-threat to YECism (Strahler, 1987, p. 215).
AREAL SIZE OF PRE-PLEISTOCENE GLACIATIONS VERSUS PLEISTOCENE AND MODERN GLACIERS
Oard (p. 20-21) argues that if the pre-Pleistocene glaciations were real they should have covered areas as large as those covered by the Pleistocene "ice age" or modern glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. Oard (p. 21) summarizes this argument in his Tables 3.1 and 3.2, and attempts to show that the pre-Pleistocene glaciations covered relatively small areas, which really do not resemble the large area distribution of Pleistocene and modern glaciers.
Of course, theres no reason why pre-Pleistocene glaciations are required to cover surface areas that are similar to those covered by Pleistocene and modern glaciers. Oard (p. 20-21) is constructing an invalid strawperson argument based on invalid Lyell uniformitarian thinking. In reality, glaciers may come in a great variety of sizes ranging from small alpine glaciers to continent-sized ones or even larger. Another major flaw in Oards argument is that he again fails to realize that after 250 million or more years, most glacial deposits would be largely eroded away. This is especially true for relatively thin continental glacial deposits (Hambrey, 1992, p. 42; Smith, 1997, p. 164-165). Therefore, its not surprising that the remnants of the Paleozoic and Precambrian glaciations only cover a small fraction of the global area when compared with the deposits of much younger Pleistocene and modern glaciers.
Oards tables (3.1 and 3.2 on p. 21) also may be biased. Oard (p. 21) defends the contents of his tables by saying that only the OBSERVED sizes of the pre-Pleistocene deposits based on their current distribution of outcrops are included and not any reconstructions based on what he considers to be "questionable assumptions." Of course, geologists know that the movement of tectonic plates over millions of years have broken up and separated glacial deposits, such as the late Paleozoic deposits in South America and Africa. On the basis of field studies, Smith (1997, p. 167) argues that the Permo-Carboniferous ice sheets were so huge that they barely fit within the Permo-Carboniferous latitude circle of 50 degrees. Oard (p. 21) also excludes an area estimate for the Ordovician glacial deposits of North Africa from his Table 3.2. Biju-Duval et al. (1981, p. 106) conservatively estimated that these Ordovician deposits covered an area of 6-8 million square kilometers. This estimate is about the same size as the Pleistocene Scandinavian ice sheet and much larger than the Quaternary Cordilleran and Greenland ice sheets listed in Table 3.1 in Oard (p. 21). In summary, Oards area arguments are bogus and should be ignored.
THICKNESS OF PRE-PLEISTOCENE GLACIAL DEPOSITS
Pleistocene terrestrial glacial materials have an average thickness of only about 15 meters (Oard, p. 21). In comparison, pre-Pleistocene glaciomarine deposits are usually much thicker and even several kilometers thick. Of course, Oard stresses these differences to argue that the pre-Pleistocene deposits originated from "Noah's Flood," whereas the Pleistocene terrestrial deposits may be attributed to a "post-Flood ice age." However, a more proper comparison would involve Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene glaciomarine deposits. Even Oard (p. 21) admits that Pleistocene glaciomarine deposits off the coasts of Antarctica and Alaska may exceed one kilometer in thickness. The similarities in thickness for Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene glaciomarine deposits do not support common YEC arguments that only "Noah's Flood" could produce thick sediments. That is, if a Pleistocene "ice age" could form these thick deposits, why couldn't pre-Pleistocene glaciations? Why do we need to invoke "Noah's Flood" at all? In an attempt to deal with this problem, Oard (p. 22) misquotes Wright and Anderson (1982) and tries to argue that most of the thick deposits, whether ancient or modern, must be catastrophic submarine mass flows rather than glaciomarine sediments. While Wright and Anderson (1982) admit that some of the shelf sediments are actually mass flow deposits, they also state that these mass flows were originally glaciomarine deposits. That is, glaciomarine sediments accumulated on marine shelves, became unstable, and eventually flowed as submarine deposits down the shelves. Not until p. 39, does Oard mention that Quaternary mass flows off the coast of Antarctica or similar pre-Pleistocene rocks tend to be remobilized glaciomarine deposits.
The interpretation of sediments as glaciomarine or mass flow deposits may be complex and sometimes uncertain. Oard (p. 39) attempts to distort this uncertainty by claiming that glaciomarine and marine mass flow deposits simply cannot be distinguished. Although Oard refuses to admit it, as discussed later in this report, careful field studies may distinguish glaciomarine sediments from mass flow deposits. Mustard and Donaldson (1987b, p. 349), for example, argues that gravity (mass) flows cannot entirely counterfeit tillites:
"The sum of characteristics imparted by direct glacial deposition alone [that is, the formation of tillites] cannot be produced by gravity flow processes (although some features can be common to both)."
Wright and Anderson (1982, p. 951) further state that sediment transport in the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica is associated with glacial processes and do NOT resemble sediment transport on non-glacial continental margins. This statement clearly does not help Oard (p. 22, 39) to blur the distinction between glaciomarine and non-glacial mass flow deposits.
Oard (p. 22) also claims that geologists should be "uneasy" about the amount of erosion required to generate all of the sediments for the thick pre-Pleistocene deposits. In reality, the great thickness of pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits is totally expected when its realized that multiple waxing and waning glaciers over LONG periods of time would release large amounts of sediment into nearby marine environments. In contrast, large volumes of sediment are a serious problem for YECs. YEC history isnt long enough to weather igneous rocks and produce and sort large volumes of sediment. For example, how did Noah's Flood or even 10,000 years of YEC history purify and sort the St. Peter Sandstone so that it is almost entirely uniformly sized quartz sand (Young, 1982, p. 85)?
TEXTURES OF PRE-PLEISTOCENE VERSUS PLEISTOCENE AND RECENT GLACIAL DEPOSITS
Oard (p. 22-24) emphasizes that Pleistocene and modern continental tills tend to have coarser particles than Paleozoic and Precambrian glaciomarine deposits. From this observation, Oard attempts to argue that pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are too fine-grained to be glacial. However, the differences may be explained by the fact that coarser particles are harder to transport with icebergs and ocean currents than thick continental glacial ice. Oard (p. 23) must stop making inappropriate comparisons between meter-sized and smaller dropstones in pre-Pleistocene glacial marine sediments and kilometer-sized blocks of rock moved by Pleistocene continental glaciers in Saskatchewan.
GLACIOTECTONIC STRUCTURES IN PRE-PLEISTOCENE GLACIAL DEPOSITS
Moving glaciers may thrust or otherwise deform underlying sediments and produce glaciotectonic features. While Oard (p. 24) admits that glaciotectonic features are common in Pleistocene and modern glacial sediments, he goes on to misuse a number of references to claim that glaciotectonic features are unexpectantly rare or entirely absent in pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits. Oard argues that the "absence" of glaciotectonic features is due to the sediments being deposited in deep marine water during "Noahs Flood" rather than in shallow water or on land where overlying glaciers could have deformed them.
Oard (p. 24) misquotes Eyles et al. (1985, p. 24) and argues that examples of glaciotectonic features in Visser (1994) may actually have resulted from non-glacial density loading and downslope mass movements. Eyles et al. (1985, p. 24) warn their readers that extreme caution must be used to discriminate glaciotectonic deformations from sediments produced from density loading and downslope mass movement. However, they cite Visser et al. (1984), as well as three other papers by Visser, to show that such discriminations can be done with core and outcrop data. The situation is not as confusing or hopeless as Oard wants us to believe.
Oard (p. 24) also refers to Flint (1975, p. 125) as being "puzzled" by the lack of glaciotectonic structures in pre-Pleistocene deposits. In my opinion, Flint (1975, p. 125) is not so "puzzled" by the lack of glaciotectonic features as much as he felt that a concerted effort had not been made as of 1975 to find these features. Hicock and Dreimanis (1985) further state that although glaciotectonic features are potentially useful in field studies, they are often overlooked in North America even in Pleistocene sediments.
In reality, glaciotectonic features are not as rare or "absent" in pre-Pleistocene deposits as Oard claims. Examples of glaciotectonic features are mentioned in several references, including some that Oard uses elsewhere in his book. As examples, glaciotectonic features are associated with the Ordovician glaciations in Africa (Biju-Duval et al., 1981, p. 106; Beuf et al., 1971, p. 65; Smith, 1997, p. 169) and the late Paleozoic glaciations in South Africa (Visser, 1997, p. 172, 174, 178; 1990, p. 235, 237; 1987a, p. 123, 125). Specifically, Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2235) describe that some of the sandstones of the In Tahouite Formation of North Africa have been sheared off, pushed forward in slices, and carried down paleovalley slopes. The authors interpret the features as resulting from ice thrusting from Ordovician glaciers.
ICEBERG SCOUR MARKS
In shallow water, icebergs may "scrape bottom" and leave scour marks in sediments. Oard (p.24-25) cites a number of references and claims that if pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits formed in shallow marine environments, they should contain abundant iceberg scour marks like those found in modern and Pleistocene deposits. While iceberg scour marks and other iceberg related erosional features are rare or largely unrecognized, they are not as absent as Oard (p. 24) believes. Interestingly, the soft sediment grooves shown in Figure 11.25 in Oard (p. 98) look like they could be iceberg scour marks.
Fairbridge (1979, p. 144-145) describes a likely iceberg scour mark and other iceberg related features in the Ordovician glacial deposits of North Africa. Fairbridge (1971a, p. 271) also makes references to curving gouges from floating ice in the Ordovician deposits. Woodworth-Lynas and Dowdeswell (1994, p. 241f) argue that floating ice and not just continental glaciers could have produced many of the pre-Pleistocene soft-sediment striated surfaces in Mauritania, Algeria, Namibia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Antarctica. Woodworth-Lynas (1996, p. 168-177) also lists several examples of possible to likely iceberg scour marks in pre-Pleistocene rocks, including the Proterozoic of Brazil and the Proterozoic Kuibis Series of Namibia. Contrary to Oard's (p. 73) claims that there are no ice scour marks in the Gowganda Formation of Canada, Miall (1985, p. 782) argues that iceberg scours may be present on the contact between the middle Precambrian Serpent and Gowganda formations. Ice scours may also occur in late Paleozoic glacial deposits in Australia and South Africa (Woodworth-Lynas, 1996, p. 173-176;Visser, 1990, p. 238). Before Oard declares that iceberg scours are "totally missing" from pre-Pleistocene glaciomarine deposits (p. 25), maybe he should read the current literature for several examples and wait for further information until scientists have studied the rocks in more detail.
As Oard (p.25) mentions, Rocha-Campos et al. (1994) discusses some late Paleozoic iceberg scour marks in Brazil. The furrows of the marks are 20-50 cm wide, up to 20 cm deep, and have an exposed length of up to 70-80 meters (Rocha-Campos et al., 1994, p. 236). The marks are also associated with ice-rafted clasts, likely debris from grounded icebergs, rhythmites, and other glacial features (Rocha-Campos et al., 1994, p. 234). Rocha-Campos et al. (1994, p. 239) admit that these scour marks are smaller than most Pleistocene and modern examples. Because of the relatively small size of the Brazilian scour marks, Oard (p. 25) argues that icebergs could not have produced these features. However, size is not a significant argument against an iceberg-related origin. Iceberg scour marks could be any size. Again, Oard (p. 25) is allowing Lyell uniformitarianism, which he claims to detest, to actually control his thinking. Under actualism, past and present iceberg scour marks may vary in size and degree of preservation.
Rocha-Campos et al. (1994, p. 237-239) also considered other hypotheses for the origins of the furrows besides iceberg scours. However, iceberg scours proved to be the best explanation. Specifically, they (p. 237) conclude that the features are too localized and theres no supporting data to indicate that the furrows had a tectonic origin. The furrows could also have developed from the slumping of sediments. However, the geometry of the troughs does not resemble slump features (Rocha-Campos et al., 1994, p. 238).
Pockmarks are V-shaped features found in modern seafloor sediments that may result from submarine seepages of water and natural gas (Oard, p. 25). They may range from very small to up to 700 meters long and 20 meters deep (Oard, p.25). Oard (p. 25-26) cites pockmarks as another supposed example of a feature that is common in modern sediments, but is absent in pre-Pleistocene rocks of any kind. Perhaps, pockmarks dont preserve well or maybe they are not easily distinguished from other surface irregularities in the geologic record. Although Oard believes in one Pleistocene glaciation, he cites no examples of pockmarks in either glacial or non-glacial Pleistocene sediments. Perhaps, Oard needs to realize that "an absence of evidence is no evidence of absence." For example, none of the snow that fell on North Dakota last winter is left. Does that mean that it never snowed in North Dakota last winter? Of course not. Sometimes little or no evidence survives.
VARVES AND VARVITESLaminae are very thin, parallel layers of sediment or sedimentary rocks. By definition, laminae are less than one centimeter (cm) thick (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 128). Sometimes, hundreds of thousands of laminae may be stacked on top of each other. The lateral length of laminae varies greatly and in some cases, individual layers have been laterally traced for at least 90 kilometers (55 miles) (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 553)!!
Laminae and other thin layered sediments may form by slow or rapid natural processes. Volcanic eruptions (especially surges) may rapidly deposit thin layered sediments and volcanic ashes (Fisher and Schmincke, 1984, p. 107-115, 191, 192, 198-206, 247-256; Schmincke et al., 1973; Carey, 1991). Mass flows of marine sediments or turbidites ("Bouma sequences", Bouma, 1962) may also rapidly produce laminae. At the same time, thin sediments (including varves) may slowly form in quiet, gradually changing environments (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 133-135).
Some, but not all, laminae are varves. Varves are couplets of sediment laminae that result from seasonal changes. If the varves are rocks rather than sediments, they are usually called varvites. Typically, varves or varvites consist of alternating light- and dark-colored layers (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 133). In glacial or temperate lakes, for example, the light layers may form from sediment runoff during the summers, while the dark layers may represent organic matter that settled during the winters. Frequently, each couplet represents an annual accumulation of sediment. Therefore, by counting couplets, the age or length of the accumulation time may be estimated for a series of varves.Kitagawa and van der Plicht (1998, p. 1187-1188) found great consistencies between varves, carbon 14 dates, tree ring data, ice core data, and U-Th dating of corals, which establish a complete record going back 38,000 - 45,000 years Before Present (BP). Glacial varves alone present a consistent data set back to about 11,000 BC or at least 3,000 years BEFORE the supposed YEC "creation" of the Universe. The consistency and diversity of varves and related geologic data are quickly driving the final nails in the YEC coffin. Creationist Aardsma (1993) probably saw this day coming when he admitted that tree ring and carbon 14 data rule out a date for "Noah's Flood" that is younger than 10,000 years old.
VARVES OF THE GREEN RIVER FORMATION
One of the better-known examples of ancient varves is found in the Eocene Green River Formation of Wyoming. The Green River Formation probably developed in several large warm-climate Eocene lakes. Not all of the thin layers in the Green River Formation are varves (Ripepe et al., 1991, p. 1155). Specifically, the Tipton, Laney and Wilkins Peak Members of the Green River Formation frequently contain varves. The Wilkins Peak Member also contains abundant salt deposits that formed from dry evaporating conditions, which, of course, are incompatible with a wet raging "Flood." These salts would have dissolved and dispersed in any "Flood" waters. Because the Wilkins Peaks Member is sandwiched between the Tipton and the Laney members (see Figure 2, p. 1147 in Fischer and Roberts, 1991), this means that the area experienced deep lake conditions as the Tipton was deposited, followed by the drier conditions of the Wilkins Peak and finally BACK to the deeper water of the Laney Member. That's a lot of deposition and climatic change for even 6,000 years on the YEC calendar. Miall (1990, p. 489) also notes that the Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation consists of kerogen-rich layers that formed during humid lacustrine phases and kerogen-poor layers that resulted from ARID playa phases. Again, how could arid conditions exist during "Noahs Flood"?Like many YECs, Oard (p. 60) also suggests that varve couplets could be deposited in minutes or seconds supposedly from "Noah's Flood" or perhaps localized "post-Flood" catastrophes. However, just for the Green River Formation alone, such rapid deposition presents countless problems for YECs. Some individual varves in the Green River Formation may extend for 10's of kilometers (Fischer and Roberts, l99l, p. 1148) and there are more than 5,000,000 individual couplets or a total of more than 10,000,000 individual layers (Strahler, 1987, p. 233). YECs, including Oard (p. 60), often cite Berthault (1986, 1988a,b, 1990) and invoke a "self-sorting mechanism" to explain the rapid formation of numerous laminae at once in the Green River Formation. So, if this "sorting mechanism" was responsible for the laminae in the Green River Formation, how could this mechanism instantly produce numerous fine-grained laminae over ten's of kilometers (Fischer and Roberts, 1991, p. 1148)? It's one thing to rapidly produce some laminae in a laboratory separatory funnel (see Figure 1 in Sedimentation Experiments: Nature Finally Catches Up!), it's another thing to rapidly deposit thin layers of clay and silt over 10's of kilometers. Even the YECs at Varves: Problems for Standard Geochronology admit that silts normally take days to settle out and finer-grained clays even longer. (Unlike relatively coarse sand particles, very small particles (silts and clays) take TIME to settle out of solution.) Therefore, if 10,000,000 layers formed in only 6,000 years, an average of 4.6 layers would have to settle out COMPLETELY in one DAY! Thats too fast and chaotic for the geology of the formation. Of course, things become even worse for YECs, since in their minds, the Green River Formation either formed during the year-long "Flood" or in the 4,000 or so years of "post-Flood" history. Already, the 6,000 year old YEC time frame is refuted. YECs must also explain how 10,000,000 layers, some of which may extend over tens of kilometers, can form in less than a few thousand years without eroding previously deposited layers or producing cross-bedding or other non-linear features. Simply hoping that Berthaults laboratory work could somehow be scaled up to 10's of kilometers isnt good enough. Worst of all for YECism, variations in varve thickness within the Green River Formation clearly fall into regular cycles, several of which correlate beautifully with various LONG-TERM weather, climate, and astronomical (Milankovitch) cycles (Fischer and Roberts, 1991; Ripepe et al. 1991). These relationships are shown in the following table:
|Cycle in Years*||In Green River?||Explanation|
|4-6||Yes||ENSO (El Nino!!)|
|400,000||No||Long eccentricity cycle|
The Green River Formation contains some beautifully preserved fish and other fossils. However, except for microfossils, fossil-bearing laminae are uncommon in the formation (Fischer and Roberts, 1991, p. 1147). YECs are skeptical that dead fish can lay undisturbed on the bottom of lakes for years and slowly be encapsulated into varves. They insist that the fish and other well-preserved fossils had to have been buried quickly by "Noahs Flood" or subsequent "post-Flood" catastrophe(s). Otherwise, they claim, the fossils would have been destroyed by decay and scavengers.
Drever (1997, p. 166-169) states that the bottoms of deep water (eutrophic) lakes may become very anaerobic if the cold bottom waters (the hypolimnion) remain dense and stagnant. That is, the bottom waters of lakes may not experience frequent seasonal mixing and aeration, especially in depositional environments like those of the Green River Formation, where the bottom waters were probably saltier and, therefore more dense, than the surface waters (Drever, 1997, p. 169; Fisher and Roberts, 1991, p. 1147). Fischer and Roberts (1991, p. 1147) and Strahler (1987, p. 233) further discuss in more detail the field and geochemical evidence on why bottom scavengers were often absent in the Green River Formation. Not only was the deep and quiet water too stagnant (low oxygen) and salty to support scavengers and aerobic decay-promoting bacteria, but the water probably had too much highly poisonous H2S to support scavengers, burrowing organisms, and most bacteria that would have destroyed organic remains and disrupted varve structures. Strong currents would also not have been expected in the stagnant water, so the fish corpses could have remained intact and undisturbed for many years until burial. Nevertheless, Ripepe et al. (1991, p. 1157) show photographs of varves that have undergone possible small-scale bioturbation, so varve disruption and decay may have occurred at some of the sites.The Green River Formation represents only a small fraction of the geologic record, but by itself it sinks both YECism and "Flood geology." For further examples of other cyclic sedimentary rocks (Devonian Catskill Delta, Triassic Hungarian carbonates, and Newark Basin of New Jersey) that refute YECism, Why the Flood is not Global.
VARVES ARE REAL AND CAN BE DISTINGUISHED FROM NON-VARVES
Both Oard (p. 59) andYEC Austin (1994, p. 38) misuse Lambert and Hsu (1979) in an attempt to undermine the existence of varves. Lambert and Hsu (1979) report that 300 to 360 sediment couplets ("varves") were deposited in only 160 years in Lake Walenstadt (Walensee), Switzerland. Oard (p. 59) and Austin (1994, p. 38) then ignore crucial statements in Lambert and Hsu (1979, p. 460) to create the false impression that Lambert and Hsu (1979) are denying the existence of any varves. In reality, Lambert and Hsu (1979, p. 460) clearly state that varves with real annual layering do exist and they cite Lake Zurich as an example. In Figure 4 in Lambert and Hsu (1979, p. 460), photographs are compared of the faint layering of the Walensee false varves to the stark and very sharp real varves from Lake Zurich. The differences between the real and false varves in Figure 4 of Lambert and Hsu (1979) are obvious to anyone.
Oard misrepresents other references to create a false impression that varves are virtually non-existent and when they do occur theyre nearly impossible to distinguish from non-varves. For example, Oard (p. 59) summarizes an article by Pickrill and Irwin (1983) and claims that they found an average of three "similar-looking" couplets per year in sediments from a New Zealand lake rather than the expected one annual couplet. According to Oard (p. 59), the authors attributed the "two extra" couplets to "floods and slumps." In reality, the couplets did NOT look as "similar" as Oard (p. 59) claims. Rather, the sediments consisted of two distinguishable groups of rhythmic materials, one major group and another group consisting of distinctly smaller layers. Pickrill and Irwin (1983, p. 72) used lead 210 to confirm that the major rhythmites were annual varves, whereas the smaller ones were not varves and averaged about three "rhythms" per year.
Oard (p. 60) misquotes another article, Smith et al. (1990), to stress that one sediment couplet may form in as little as 12 hours. However, Oard (p. 60) does not tell his readers that the non-varves and varves described by Smith et al. (1990) were very different and distinguishable. In particular, Smith et al. (1990) described neap tidal deposits in Glacier Bay, Alaska, as being structureless or faintly laminated when compared with the more seasonal (spring) laminations. Smith et al. (1990, p. 10) even refers to the similarities between non-varved glaciomarine laminations and glaciolacustrine rhymites (including varves) as being "superficial." Once again, contrary to Oards wishes, varves exist and have properties that allow them to be distinguished from non-varved deposits.
In another example, Oard (p. 61) cites Martin et al. (1985) and claims that a Precambrian "varvite" in Namibia was really a series of "mass flow bands," where the light- and dark-colored bands supposedly "separated out" during "mass flow." Oard (p. 61) describes the banding in the Precambrian rock as if it had a sedimentary origin. However, Oard is again wrong. Martin et al. (1985, p. 181-182) claim that the rock and its features are metamorphic and not sedimentary! That is, the "varves" or "mass flow bands" were really produced from high temperature conditions while the rock was "baked" deep within the Earth.
When discussing the late Paleozoic Dwyka glacial deposits of South Africa, Oard (p. 95) again distorts the literature to claim that no real varves exist in the ancient glacial deposits. Oard (p. 95) cites Hunter (1969, p. 32) and Tavener-Smith and Mason (1983) to argue that the colors of the late Paleozoic varves are the opposite of real Pleistocene or modern varves. In reality, Hunter (1969, p. 32) simply states that both true varves and non-varved rhythmically banded shales are present in the glacial deposits. The varves are distinguished from the non-varved banded shales by textural differences. Travener-Smith and Mason (1983, p. 244-245) admits that some of the Dwyka varves have opposite color schemes when compared with Swedish Pleistocene varves. However, the authors do not consider the color differences to be important, so Oard has no justification for using color to disqualify the reality of the late Paleozoic varves. The opposite color distributions between the late Paleozoic South African and Swedish Pleistocene varves probably resulted from differences in local climatic and tectonic conditions. Tavener-Smith and Mason (1983, p. 244) further note that other late Paleozoic varves in Zambia and Zimbabwe have colors that are consistent with the Pleistocene varves. With the possible exception of color, the Dwyka and Pleistocene varves have close textural, compositional and other characteristics (Tavener-Smith and Mason, 1983, p. 244).
Oard (p. 95) also cites Visser and Kingsley (1982, p. 75) as claiming that there are no lithological differences between the light and dark bands of some late Paleozoic rhythmites in drill cores from the Transvaal Highlands, South Africa. Therefore, according to Oard, the bands were not produced by cyclic conditions like real varves. Visser and Kingsley (1982, p. 75) admit that these particular layered rocks are not true varves. However, actual varves are present elsewhere in the cores (Visser and Kingsley, 1982, p. 75-76) and the authors further claim that the fine-grained sediment in the rhythmites indicate deposition under LOW ENERGY conditions, which is hardly consistent with a raging "Biblical Flood."
DROPSTONES IN VARVITES AND OTHER FINE-GRAIN ROCKS
Floating ice or icebergs may carry and drop rocks into lake or offshore marine sediments. If the sediments are varves or other fine-grained materials, the relatively coarse dropstones may be easily recognized in the much finer grained matrix. Not all laminar rocks with large stones are dropstone varve/varvites. Non-glacial deposits may also contain oversized rocks in finer grained laminar sediments.
In the beginning of chapter 8, Oard (p. 57) portrays field studies of pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits as often being rash and sloppy. Supposedly, field geologists routinely identify deposits as having a glacial origin on the sole basis of a few oversized rocks (i.e., "dropstones") in some laminar sediments (i.e., "varves"). To support his slanderous accusations, Oard (p. 57) cites Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1308) as a supposed example of this type of sloppy fieldwork. Although some field studies done decades ago may support Oards accusations, a review of Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1308) shows that they are NOT guilty of this kind of misbehavior. Instead of basing their glacial interpretations on a few large stones in laminar deposits, Deynoux and Trompette (1976, p. 1308) appropriately list numerous criteria for claiming that some late Precambrian mixtites in northwest Africa are glacial (including: roches moutonnees, crescentic fractures, step fractures, and patterned ground).
Obviously, Oard cannot accept icebergs forming and floating around during Noahs Flood. After unjustly attacking the intelligence and abilities of Deynoux and Trompette (1976), Oard (p. 61f) proceeds to express skepticism that ice-related dropstones may be distinguished from mass flow deposits with large, isolated clasts. Its obvious that Oard (p. 65-66) would like to transform all pre-Pleistocene glaciomarine dropstone deposits into turbidites from "Noahs Flood."
Some turbidites may resemble varvites with dropstones. For example, turbidites may deposit thin layers of laminated sediments that may resemble varves or varvites. The flows may also deposit relatively large, isolated rocks that resemble dropstones within finer grained materials. Oard tries to portray oversized rocks in turbidites as being common and easily confused with glaciomarine deposits with dropstones. For example, Oard (p. 65) misquotes Eisbacher (1981, p. 729-730) and gives the false impression that sporadic dropstones are found in a non-glacial mass flow deposit in northern British Columbia, Canada. In reality, Eisbacher (1981, p. 729-730) argued that most of the rocks at the site are mass flows, but glacial deposits containing real dropstones are also present and probably formed from local piedmont glaciers. So, contrary to Oards claim, both mass flows and glacial deposits are present in the area and the oversized rocks are in the glacial deposits.
In a related issue, Oard fails to admit that even oversized rocks in some fine-grained turbidites may have originally been glacial dropstones (Hambrey and Harland, 1979, p. 272). That is, glaciomarine deposits with dropstones may be remobilized and transformed into turbidite deposits. Therefore, some of the turbidites that Oard wants to associate with Noahs Flood may have actually had their ultimate origins from pre-Pleistocene glaciers (Gravenor et al. 1984, p. 125).
Hawkes (1943) lists and describes numerous actual and false dropstones from Cretaceous non-glacial rocks in England. According to Oard (p. 64), one of the non-glacial "dropstones" has scratches. He (p. 64) implies that any scratch rocks dropped by trees and other non-glacial processes could easily be misidentified as glacial dropstones. Oard (p. 64) provides no page number from Hawkes (1943). However on p. 99 of Hawkes (1943), the following statement is made about the rocks, which flatly contradicts Oards claims that the collection contains even one "scratched non-glacial dropstone":
"The specimens have no surface markings which afford any clue to the nature of the transporting agent. No. 145, which earlier workers claimed to be ice-scratched, is a phosphate nodule; it is the one boulder in the collection which probably has not travelled at all."
In other words, the one scratched rock in the collection is an in-situ nodule and not a "dropstone." The examples in Hawkes (1943) suggest that non-glacial rocks counterfeiting glacially scratched dropstones are not as common as Oard believes.
Splash features associated with vertically dropped rocks from icebergs may be identified and distinguished from large rocks that have been slid or otherwise laterally emplaced by mass flows or turbidites. Oard (p. 64) cites two references (Mustard and Donaldson, 1987a, p. 378; Miller, 1994, p. 49, 54) that contain very convincing photographs of large rocks that clearly fell vertically into sediments. In particular, Miller (1994, p. 54) mentions that large dropstones, up to 45 cm in diameter, in the Neoproterozoic Konnarock Formation of southwestern Virginia sometimes have splash structures associated with them. Since the examples from both Mustard and Donaldson (1987a, p. 378) and Miller (1994, p. 49, 54) are Precambrian, there can be little doubt that icebergs dropped them. Although uprooted trees will sometimes carry boulders and drop them in lakes and marine environments, trees hadnt yet evolved during the Precambrian. To explain these splash features and isolated boulder dropstones, Oard could place his faith in "pre-Flood trees" that show no evidence of existing at this time (not even a single leaf or twig) or perhaps Noah used the rocks as ballast.
Although trees did not exist during the Precambrian, it could be argued that once terrestrial plants became abundant during the Carboniferous, they might have been able to raft and have the strength to transport and drop at least small rocks. That is, if dropstones were commonly carried as readily by plants as by ice, then dropstones should be just as abundant in Carboniferous and younger non-glacial rocks as they are in glacial rocks. Anderson (1983, p. 20), however, states that plant-rafted pebbles are rarely, if ever, found in clay-rich sediments of known non-glacial affinity. Young (1979, p. 124-125) also considered the emplacement of dropstones by plants, animals, volcanic eruptions and other non-glacial processes. He (p. 125) concludes:
"None of these possibilities explains the great abundance of dropstones of varied composition in Precambrian rocks, and one is forced to the conclusion that glacial ice was in fact present."
Oard (p. 64) also suggests that dropstones could result from meteorite impacts. Oberbeck et al. (1993a,b; 1994) and Rampino (1992, 1994) are the leading advocates for claiming that SOME glacial deposits may actually be impact deposits. However, Oard does not mention the following confession by Oberbeck et al. (1993b, p. 681):
"Young  notes that dropstones suspended throughout very thick tillite/diamictite deposits is a problem for the impact hypothesis and, at this time, we have no explanation. However, we did not claim that all tillites/diamictites were of impact origin."
Oard (p. 23) notes that modern and Pleistocene icebergs have been known to carry boulders larger than 5 meters in diameter. However, the transportation of such large boulders is probably uncommon. Oard (p. 74) cites Miall (1983, p. 483) and claims that most clasts in rhythmites are "small." In reality, Miall (1983, p. 483) describes dropstones as sometimes being one or more meters in length, although he does admit that they are typically only a few centimeters or less. The context does not indicate if Miall was discussing dropstones in general or the dropstones of the Middle Precambrian Gowganda Formation of Ontario, Canada. On p. 24, Oard admits that dropstone boulders larger than one meter in diameter are found in pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits on rare occasions. On the basis of these observations, one could probably argue that the maximum size differences between dropstones from pre-Pleistocene and Quaternary icebergs are not significantly different. While icebergs are capable of carrying boulders that are one to five meters in diameter or larger and dropping them into marine sediments, very few, if any, uprooted and floating trees, volcanic explosions and meteorite impacts could pick up individual boulders of this size, carry them over significant distances and individually drop them.
FOSSILS AND DROPSTONE DEPOSITS
Oard (p. 25) claims that there is a surprising "lack" of fossils and biogenic residues on dropstones in pre-Pleistocene rocks. He admits that fossilized algae may have been found on one middle Precambrian dropstone (Jackson, 1971). According to the likely YEC viewpoint, if the dropstones were slowly buried by sediment, organisms should have colonized the rocks before they were buried. Because fossils are supposedly absent from dropstones, YECs then argue that dropstones were deposited and buried too quickly by Noahs Flood to allow organisms to colonize them. In a related issue, Oard (p. 104) also claims that few fossils would be expected in "Flood" submarine landslides because the extreme turbulence would have destroyed the organisms. While fossil fragments of vertebrates and invertebrates with hard parts are not found in Precambrian deposits, somehow, "magically," algal stromatolites, varves/laminites, nailhead striations, soft sediment grooves, and other delicate features are often preserved in these "Flood" deposits. Furthermore, for some reason, even fossils with delicate hard parts frequently survived the "mass flows" that deposited the Paleozoic and younger "Flood" materials.
Although Oard refuses to accept it, abundant organisms with hard preservable parts had not yet evolved on Earth during the Precambrian glaciations. Even during the Paleozoic, there may have been few organisms that had yet adapted to cold glacial waters. Also, Noahs Flood isnt required to argue that some of the dropstones may have been buried within a few days to months by periodic and catastrophic natural flows of fine-grained sediment.
Oard overlooks the fact that some of the glacial dropstones in the Miocene to Pleistocene Yakataga Formation are covered with the fossils, such as worm tubes and barnacles (Armentrout, 1983, p. 639, 642, 645, 646, 648). Because of its thickness and lithification, Oard (p. 5) hints that the Yakataga Formation was deposited during "Noahs Flood." However, as discussed below, how did worms and barnacles colonize these dropstones in the middle of a raging "Flood"?
Icebergs or shallow water glaciers may contain clays and other fine-grained materials that fall as small pellets into the marine sediments as the ice melts. Typically, the pellets are 0.5 cm in diameter or less (Oard, p. 64). Oard (p. 64) expresses doubt that till pellets can survive being dropped and buried in glacial bays. Ovenshine (1970, p. 893) is more optimistic:
"Evidence that these till pellets can survive transportation and deposition into another environment is provided by their occurrence along the shorelines of Glacial Bay, where they have been dropped by stranded icebergs and withstood one or more tidal cycles. Thus it is probable that pellets dropped from floating icebergs will maintain their integrity and identifiable character as they are incorporated into the bottom sediment presently accumulating in the fiords of Glacier Bay."
Ovenshine (1970, p. 893) also claims that pelletoid bottom sediments on the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica are probably till pellets.
Ovenshine (1970, p. 893) further argues for the presence of tillite pellets in the Gowganda Formation. In response, Oard (p. 64, 75) can only say that the tillite pellets as well as the surrounding matrix consist of the same type of material, graywacke. Oard (p. 75) indicates that it should be difficult to distinguish the pellets from the matrix because theyre made of the same material. This is a weak argument! Textures alone are often sufficient to easily distinguish pellets and the non-pellet matrices. For example, oolitic limestone can be easily distinguished from a micrite, although both are mostly calcite. The same can be said of other rocks that have identical lithologies and mineralogies, but differences in the size and shapes (textures) of their grains. Both a conglomerate and a siltstone may be nearly 100% quartz, yet they can be easily distinguished by grain size.
Oard (p. 75) also claims that mass flows could rip up sediments and form clasts that could be confused with tillite pellets. However, he does not provide any evidence to support the existence of these counterfeit pellets.
STRIATED AND FACETED ROCKS AS GLACIAL INDICATORS
Many geologists consider striated and faceted rocks to be important indicators of glacial deposition. As usual, Oard (chapter 6) contests the reliability of these indicators by producing examples of "striated and faceted rocks" in non-glacial deposits. Oard (p. 42-43) cites Judson and Barks (1961), Schermerhorn (1974) and a number of other references to argue that mass flows could also produce these features. His claims, however, were directly challenged many years ago by Christie-Blick (1983, p. 749), which states:
"Although several non-glacial physical processes, such as abrasion by sea ice, avalanches, and wind, can produce pseudoglacial shapes and surface textures (Judson and Barks, 1961; Schermerhorn, 1974), they are inadequate to explain well developed facets and striations on hard rocks."
As with most glacial and non-glacial features that superficially resemble each other, there are usually significant differences in details between striated and faceted features in glacial and non-glacial rocks. Clearly, striations and facets must be carefully examined to rule out non-glacial counterfeits. Furthermore, other glacial or non-glacial features should be sought to verify any conclusions from the presence of striated and faceted rocks.
Oard often misrepresents the literature on this subject, as he does with other topics. As an example, Oard (p. 43) indicates that striated and faceted pebbles were once used to argue that a Late Precambrian schist in Namibia had a glacial origin. Martin et al. (1985) reinterpreted the schist as a non-glacial rock despite the presence of supposed striated and faceted pebbles. A careful review of Martin et al. (1985) and even a quotation from p. 172 of Martin et al.s paper by Oard (p. 43) indicates that the striations are very rare. The last sentence that Oard quotes from Martin et al. (1985, p. 172) even states:
"The very rare observed striae consisted of single, random scratches that could have been received whilst the pebble was exposed on the surface."
In the next sentence, which Oard does not quote, Martin et al. (1985, p. 172) state:
"None of the supposed facets showed a set of parallel striations."
In other words, unlike glacial materials, the pebbles in the schist did not have well developed striations on their facets. Martin et al. (1985, p. 182) further state:
"The supposed facets, which are found on quartzite pebbles only, are pseudofacets that were produced by pressure-solution processes and are always oriented parallel to the transposition foliation [reference to Martin et al.s figure omitted here]. These interpretations do not exclude the possibility that some isolated pebbles and boulders could have been ice-rafted."
Martin et al. (1985) continue with other detailed discussions that support an overall non-glacial origin for the schist. Contrary to what Oard indicates, through detailed studies, scientists (like Martin et al., 1985) do find features that can successfully distinguish non-glacial and glacial rocks.
INTERSECTING SETS OF STRIATIONS AS GLACIAL INDICATORS
Besides looking for individual faceted and striated rocks, geologists also study the orientations of any striations. Dirty ice, active faults, mass flows, flash floods and debris from meteorite impacts may scratch or striate rocks. Traditionally, geologists have argued that random striations on rocks result from mass movement, while faults produce parallel striations. Glaciers, on the other hand, may produce two or three intersecting striations, which may result from periodic shifting of a rocks position as a consistently moving glacier scratches it (Oard, p. 44). Oard (p. 44f) persuasively argues that there are exceptions to these general rules and that faulting, mass flows, and glaciers may produce similar looking striations. However, Oard often hinders his case by misquoting the literature.
As Oard (p. 44) points out, Schermerhorn (1974, p. 680-681) demonstrates that intersecting striations, by themselves, are not reliable indicators of glacial deposition. Specifically, random striations may occur in glacial deposits and intersecting striations are occasionally found in non-glacial rocks. Although Schermerhorns valid arguments are properly quoted, Oard (p. 44-45) proceeds to cite, and often misquote, a number of references that supposedly support Schermerhorns claims. For example, Oard (p. 44) cites Boulton (1978) as stating that clasts in modern tills may contain "random striations." As far as I could tell, Boulton (1978) does not refer to "random striations" in his article. In one figure on p. 780, Boulton (1978) refers to striations on one rock as having "no consistent direction," which could mean either random orientations or preferential, non-random orientations in two or more directions. At the same time, most of the article discusses how boulder shapes, striations, grain-size distributions, and other features may be used to distinguish different types of till. Although the claims in Boultons (1978) article may be overly optimistic, the article hardly supports Oards beliefs that striations are too ambiguous to indicate depositional environments (for example, the table on p. 776).
Oard (p. 45) also claims that both Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits may have parallel striations that resemble rocks scratched by faults. A photograph from Caputo (1985, p. 304) is given as a supposed pre-Pleistocene example. From the photograph, the striations appear to be parallel as Oard (p. 45) suggests. However, Caputo (1985) makes no statements about the orientations of the striations.
Oard (p. 44-45) cites Lindsay (1966, p. 724), Baker (1932, p. 586), Chao (1976) and Rampino (1994, p. 448) and makes further claims that striations in glacial and non-glacial rocks may be indistinguishable. Again, in some circumstances, Oard may be correct, but his frequent misuse of the literature does not help to support his case or give his readers any confidence in his abilities to argue for creationism. As discussed below, Chaos (1976) examples of striations in meteorite impact debris really do not resemble glacial striations. Rampino (1994, p. 448) contains a photograph that shows glacial-like chattermarks and striations with different orientations that were really produced by a meteorite impact. In this case, Oards citation appears to be valid, at least for the one rock shown in Rampinos photograph. Baker's (1932) case for striated clasts in some Precambrian non-glacial rocks from Texas is weak. Baker (1932, p. 586) admits:
"Few striae have been found yet on the pre-Cambrian rocks, but one small pebble has cross-striae and one large quartzite pebble is well scored and polished on one face."
He further states that many chert fragments are present that are grooved, striated, and highly polished from intense deformational events. However, Baker (1932, p. 586) admits that these features on cherts dont really resemble glacial textures. Lindsay (1966, p. 724) was able to find 26 striated rocks in a mass flow deposit or only about 0.5% of the total that he examined. Most of the striations were shallow, short and randomly distributed, which is consistent with striations in mass flows. Eight samples, however, had grid-pattern striations on flat surfaces, which resemble glacial features. In a statement that may or may not have some relevance, Lindsay (1966, p. 724) noted that in all cases the striations formed after the rocks were rounded.
STRIATED BEDROCK AND GROOVED PAVEMENTS
Dirty ice, meteorite impacts, fault movements and mass flows may scratch entire outcrops, as well as individual rocks. In chapter 7, Oard again misuses the literature and attempts to eliminate any distinctions between glacial and non-glacial striations on bedrock. For example, Oard (p. 49) cites Hambrey and Harland (1981, p. 14) and claims that mass movements and tectonic forces may produce striations and grooves that counterfeit glacial processes. However, Hambrey and Harland (1981, p. 14) actually state:
"Striated surfaces alone could indicate a tectonic or mass-flow origin, but if sedimentary structures are well-preserved glacigenic features are so characteristic that there should be little difficulty in identifying them."
In another example, Carter (1975, p. 162) discusses polished and linear structures in sand flows. However, contrary to suggestions by Oard (p. 50), Carter makes no comparisons with glacial striations. Specifically, Carter (1975, p. 162) refers to a photograph of a sand flow with linear features in Shepard and Dill (1966, Figure 139). However, its obvious from the photograph that the linear features look nothing like glacial striations.
Pettijohn (1975, p. 119) is credited by Oard (p. 52) as stating that turbidity currents could produce intersecting groove casts that appear similar to glacially produced grooves on pavements. Like Carter (1975), Pettijohn (1975, p. 119-120) never makes a direct comparison between grooves from turbidity currents and glacial processes. This is Oard's invention.
Oard (p. 52) also takes Harland et al. (1966, p. 250) out of context and argues that tectonic processes may produce crossing sets of striations, which could be confused with glacial striations. However, when the quotation is given in context, Oard's arguments are no longer viable. Again, as shown below, the section that Oard used is in capital letters:
"Extensive grooved and striated basements clearly indicate glacial abrasion. More limited surfaces of this sort could be confused with tectonically striated pavements, but TECTONIC STRIATIONS TEND TO BE IN ONE DIRECTION, OR AT THE MOST TWO OR THREE, OVER THE ENTIRE SURFACE, WHILE GLACIAL STRIATIONS SHOW MORE VARIABLE TRENDS. On the other hand, a systematic direction, somewhat independent of slope, distinguishes glacial striae from those caused by mudflows. On glacial pavement crescentic marks, criss-crosses, gouges, crushing, and generally more irregularity can be observed than on tectonic basements. Pre-pleistocene examples include the classic grooved and striated pavement below the widely exposed Dwyka Tillite."
Oard (p. 50) mentions that pre-Pleistocene striated pavements may cover large areas. Geologists see this as evidence of extensive glaciations, but Oard and other YECs think that these striations formed from the enormous sediment flows of "Noahs Flood." However, Oard never explains how all of this sediment could have formed on a young Earth and how it accumulated into huge mudflows during Noahs Flood.
At the same time, Oard (p. 51) stresses that most pre-Pleistocene pavements below diamictites are small and rare. Basically, Oard is stating that glaciated pavements may radically vary in size. The small number of pavements and their predominately small sizes are not surprising. As Oard (p. 51) states, most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits had a marine origin, which means few striated pavements would develop since deep water would cause dirty ice to float rather than persistently scrape hard outcrops. Furthermore, not many pre-Pleistocene striated pavements or other glacial features would survive after 250 million or more years of erosion.
As an example of the "meagre" presence of pre-Pleistocene pavements, Oard (p. 51) claims that a Late Precambrian tillite in northwest China described in Songnian and Zhenjia (1994, p. 98) "only" has three glacial pavements, each with an area of only about one square meter. However, contrary to Oards criticism, besides the three excavated glacial pavements near Umainak Spring, glacial pavements associated with the Umainak Formation were also found in the Aksu area (Songnian and Zhenjia, 1994, p. 98). The evidence of a glacial origin for these Chinese rocks isnt as sparse as Oard (p. 51) claims.
Next, Oard (p. 52) tries to argue that Daily et al. (1973) reinterpreted a striated pavement as resulting from tectonic rather than glacial forces because of the parallel and lengthy nature of the striations and grooves. In reality, Daily et al. (1973) cite several reasons for being skeptical of a glacial origin for this one Australian pavement, including details about the appearance of the striations and a lack of crescentic fractures, crescentic gouges, and other glacial features.
The striated pavements of the Late Paleozoic Dwyka Group are widespread, well developed and provide excellent support for a glacial origin. Oard (p. 97-98) desperately tries to argue that mass movements (supposedly from Noahs Flood) could duplicate these features. He (p. 97-98) mentions that the striations are both parallel and crossing, although an old reference (du Toit, 1953, p. 275) supposedly indicates that the striations are mostly parallel. Earlier, in chapter 7, Oard extensively argued that parallel versus crossing striations on bedrock are not reliable indicators for distinguishing glacial from non-glacial processes. However, in contradiction to his earlier claims, Oard (p. 98) now argues that parallel striations and grooves are more indicative of mass movement and tectonic forces than glaciations.
Oard (p. 98) also cites Harrington (1971) and mentions how debris flows from a flash flood can form striations on igneous rocks. In the previous sentence, Oard (p. 98) claims that mass movements can form striations and grooves on HARD rocks. From the context, the reader might guess that the striated igneous rocks described by Harrington (1971) were hard and that these debris flows really did a fast and effective job of counterfeited glacial striations on granites or other hard igneous rocks. However, Oard never tells his readers that the striated igneous rock in Harrington (1971, p. 1346) was a SOFT rhyolitic tuff.
In some cases, "bullet-shaped" or "flat iron-shaped" clasts are found in glacial deposits. The origin(s) of "bullet-shaped" rocks is unknown, although, as Oard (p. 45) admits, Boulton (1978) presents some ideas. Eyles (1993, p. 83) claims that such rocks are unique to glacial deposits. That is, in contrast to more cautious earlier statements in Eyles et al. (1985, p. 42), Eyles (1993, p. 83) claims that non-glacial processes supposedly cannot produce "bullet-shaped" clasts. Of course, Oard (p. 45) disputes this bold idea and claims that such clasts could also be produced in debris flows or high-density turbidity currents. Oard (p. 45) cites Baker (1932, p. 588) and claims that "bullet-shaped" clasts were found in the non-glacial Haymond Formation of Texas. Actually, Baker (1932, p. 588) only mentions that some rocks with "shapes" that are similar to those in glacial deposits were found in the Haymond Formation. Although he never refers to the rocks as "bullet-shaped," elsewhere, on p. 594-595, Baker (1932) indicates that "soled" boulders are present in the Haymond Formation. The term "soled" is probably a synonym for "bullet-shaped" rocks. Baker (1932, p. 594-595) subjectively argues that some of the "soled" boulders look like they were produce by ice, but he admits that non-glacial deformation could produce such features too. Baker (1932) is sometimes cited as favoring a glacial origin for the Haymond Formation (Schermerhorn, 1974, p. 679). Although he leaned towards an alpine (mountain) glacial origin (p. 601) for at least some of the formation, he also considered a number of non-glacial explanations (p. 577, 594-601). Overall, Bakers claims for the presence of "soled" or "bullet-shaped" rocks in the Haymond Formation appear to be too subjective, uncertain and outdated to be taken seriously.
Oard (p. 45) also claims that Coleman (1926, p. 82, 93) found "bullet-shaped" clasts in Permian deposits in England and in an Eocene formation in Colorado, both of which are now known to be non-glacial. In reality, Coleman (1926, p. 82) only mentions that some rocks with "glacial" shapes were found near Gunnison, Colorado. Coleman (1926) does not state what objective criteria, if any, were used to identify the "glacial" shapes and no mention is made of "bullet-shaped" or similar shaped clasts. Coleman (1926, p. 92-93) admits that a majority of geologists, including British geologists, argued that the Permian English deposits had a NON-GLACIAL origin. Although Coleman saw some evidence for glaciation, his guide and local expert on the geology of the area, Mr. Wickam King did not support a glacial origin for the Permian English breccias. Both King and Coleman (1926, p. 93-94) admit that the striations are consistent with mass flows and not glaciations. As with the Colorado rocks, no specific references are made to "bullet-shaped" rocks in the English breccias.
Chattermarks may occur on fault planes or from glacial erosion. They are described as a series of closely spaced or overlapping lunate scars or cracks (Bates and Jackson, 1980, p. 106). Chattermarks form from vibrational chipping of a firm, but brittle, rock surface. They are usually only a few centimeters wide and are smaller than crescentic fractures (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 316; Bates and Jackson, 1980, p. 106). Not surprisingly, Oard wants chattermarks in non-glacial rocks to be indistinguishable from glacial examples, so he can argue that the ones in pre-Pleistocene deposits resulted from the mass flows, faulting, or meteorite impacts during "Noahs Flood."
Oard (p. 53) claims that Hancock and Barka (1987) contains photographs of "chattermark-like fractures" on a fault plane in Turkey. Although the resolution of journal photographs is not always the best, I did not see anything that looked like chattermarks. The small portions of the "sinuous tool marks" (#3 in Figure 4, p. 577) look somewhat like chattermarks, but only if I take off my glasses and blur my vision. Although features may be difficult to distinguish in journal photographs, the differences between the tool marks and actual glacial chattermarks are noticeable by comparing photographs in Figures 4 and 6 in Hancock and Barka (1987) with a photograph of actual chattermarks on p. 15 of Hambrey and Harland (1981).
Hancock and Barka (1987) says nothing about their fault features resembling chattermarks or other glacial-related markings. "Crescentic intersection lineations" occur on the Turkish fault planes, but theres no indication that these features are similar to glacial chattermarks (Hancock and Barka, 1987, p. 580).
CRESCENTIC MARKINGS, GOUGES AND FRACTURES
Crescentic markings are lunate features produced by glaciers overriding a rock surface (Bates and Jackson, 1980, p. 146). These features may be divided into two groups: crescentic fractures and crescentic gouges. Crescentic fractures are lunate cracks up to 12 cm long. They are larger than chattermarks (Bates and Jackson, 1980, p. 146). Crescentic gouges are lunate grooves or channels with round bottoms that result from glaciers plucking rock chips from an outcrop (Bates and Jackson, 1980, p. 146). The CONVEX portion of crescentic fractures points in the direction from which the glacier came. In contrast, crescentic gouges have the opposite orientation, that is, the CONCAVE portion of the gouges points in this direction.
The sediments underlying the Ordovician glacial Tamadjert Formation in North Africa were at least partially soft during the time of the glaciations. Oard (p. 81) claims that crescentic gouges could not have formed in these soft sediments. According to Oard (p. 81), glaciers can only carve "authentic" crescentic gouges on hard rock surfaces. As with many concepts, Oards ideas on crescentic gouges are too narrow and incomplete. Not only can these gouges be carved into rock (Bates and Jackson, 1980, p. 146), they can also be moulded in soft sediment by water or ice (Fairbridge, 1971a, p. 272; Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 314-323). Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) describes the crescentic gouges in the rocks underlying the Tamadjert Formation as "p-forms" (sichelwannen in German) rather than carved features. That is, according to Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272), they were moulded in plastic sediments from high velocity and high pressure water flows in subglacial tunnels. Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) states that the Ordovician gouges are well developed and OFTEN better preserved than Late Wisconsin (Pleistocene) gouges in North America and Europe.
P-forms often resemble non-glacial features that may develop from fluvial erosion of soft bedrock. However, in contrast to glacial processes, river water cannot explain the striated surfaces of many p-forms or the tendency of longitudinal p-forms to parallel striations over long distances (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 321).
Traditionally, striations in the shape of nailheads were uniquely identified with glacial deposits (Hambrey and Harland, 1981, p.15). Not surprisingly, Oard has made a concerted effort to locate any references that might indicate that nailhead striations could form from non-glacial processes. Oard (p. 53) claims that Petit (1987) found crescentic fractures and nailhead striae on fault surfaces. Petit (1987) discusses the formation of "striations due to a ploughing element," but he never refers to them or any other fault features as "nailhead striations," and he never makes any comparisons with "nailhead striations." While Petit (1987, p. 599) did find crescentic fractures, nothing was found that resembled glacial chattermarks, as classically defined by Harris (1943).
Oard (p. 53, 99) discusses a Precambrian pavement in Brazil with crescentic cracks and nailhead striations and claims that Frakes (1979, p. 79) "insists" that the pavement was produced by a mass flow rather than a glacier. In reality, Frakes does not "insist" on anything. He (p. 79) presents both sides and expresses uncertainty about whether the pavement was produced by glaciation or mass flows. Of course, it's possible that both processes influenced the pavement at different times.
Oberbeck et al. (1993a, p. 11) claim that Chao (1976) found "nailhead" striations in debris from the Ries impact crater in Germany. Uncritically, Oard (p. 53, 99) repeats this claim. Chao (1976, p. 615) mentions earlier studies at the Ries impact site that found striations, gouges, and scour marks in some of the sedimentary ejecta resulting from the impact. Some of these marks were up to a few centimeters wide and deep (Chao, 1976, p. 615). However, the striations and scour marks discovered and discussed by Chao are MICROSCOPIC, usually less than 50 microns wide and only a few hundred microns in length. These microstriations are much smaller than the MACROSCOPIC nailhead striations found in glacial pavements (Hambrey and Harland, 1981, p. 15, for example). Chao (1976, p. 616) even states that these microstriations are not anything like striations produced by other geological processes. So according to Chao, Oberbeck et al. and Oard should not be concerned that these microstriations could be confused with glacial and other non-impact striations. Chao (1976, p. 616) states that some of these microstriations have "pinhead-shaped indentations." However, contrary to claims in Oberbeck et al. (1993a, p. 11) and Oard (p. 53, 99), Chao (1976) NEVER makes any direct comparisons with glacial nailhead striations.
Oberbeck et al. (1993a, p. 11) expect impacts to create chattermarks and nailhead striations. However, they admit that chattermarks have not yet been found in any impact deposits. The physics of impacts may indeed create chattermarks and nailhead striations and maybe, eventually, they will be found. Since Oberbeck et al. are making predictions about these features occurring in impact deposits, I will make some predictions of my own. Since impacts and mass flows are typically much faster and more violent than glaciers, I will predict that any nailhead striations or chattermarks from impacts and mass flows will have characteristics that are very distinguishable from the more slowly created markings in glacial deposits.
Oard also attempts to minimize the number of nailhead striations that are found in pre-Pleistocene glacial rocks. Obviously, the fewer glacial features that are present in these rocks, the easier it is to pass them off as mass flows, faults, and meteorite impacts associated with "Noah's Flood." For example, Oard (p. 98) cites von Brunn and Stratten (1981, p. 75) and claims that nailhead striae, chattermarks and crescentic gouges are relatively "rare" in the Late Paleozoic glacial Dwyka Group of South Africa. In reality, von Brunn and Stratten (1981, p. 75) simply state that several striated pavements have these features. They give no indication of how rare the features are.
Roches moutonnees (singular: roche moutonnee) result from the erosion of rock outcrops by glacial ice. They are asymmetrical rocks consisting of an abraded gently sloping upglacier surface and a steep, often plucked, rock face on the down-ice side (Ritter, 1978, p. 383). Because of their unique glacial origins, the presence of any roches mountonnees in pre-Pleistocene rocks creates serious problems for Oard and other YECs.
Oard (p. 53) gives the impression that Miall (1985, p. 782) believes that some roches moutonnees and related glacial features mostly had a "tectonic" origin. Miall (1985, p. 782) NEVER makes this claim about roches moutonnees, crescentric gouges, or nailhead striations. Miall (1985, p. 782) simply states that some striated pavements (i.e., "lineation features") at the base of the Middle Precambrian Gowganda Formation of Ontario, Canada, may have had a tectonic origin.
Roches moutonnees have been located in the Ordovician Tamadjert Formation of North Africa (Bennacef et al., 1971, p. 2235). The roches moutonnees are low amplitude and provide no details on the flow directions of the glacial ice (Biju et al., 1981, p. 104). Oard (p. 82) claims that the features are not really roches moutonnees because, unlike Pleistocene roches moutonnees, the Ordovician examples formed in soft sediments rather than on hard rocks. However, Biju et al. (1981, p. 104, 105) says nothing about the Tamadjert roches moutonnees forming in soft sediments. Instead, they indicate (p. 104) that the roches moutonnees are found on rocks of varying lithologies and include undulating and polished surfaces. The presence of polished rock surfaces is consistent with the formation of roches moutonnees.
Oard (p. 99) also disputes the authenticity of roches moutonnees in the Late Paleozoic Dwyka Group at Nooitgedacht, South Africa. Oard (p. 99) quotes Visser and Loock (1988, p. 38-39) and claims that with one exception, there are no roches moutonnees in the Dwyka Group at this location. Depending on how a roche moutonnee is defined, the features may be reclassified as glacial "drumlinoid complexes" or "crag and tail" deposits. Either way, the polished and striated rock knobs, boulder pavements, diamictites, and other characteristics of these features clearly indicate a glacial origin, as described in Visser and Loock (1988). Visser (1988), however, argues that actual roches moutonnees are located in the Dwyka Group at other areas surrounding Nooitgedacht, including Slangheuwel, South Africa. Once more, without any evidence, Oard (p. 99) claims that the features in Visser (1988) formed from debris flows. A review of Visser (1988), however, indicates that abundant glacial features exist throughout the area, including: whalebacks, dropstones, rhythmites, meltwater deposits, subglacial diamictites, soft-sediment pavements, and two generations of roches moutonnees, which would represent two separate glaciations. Visser (1988, p. 352) also describes how basal ice was plastically deformed around the flanks of obstructions to produce lobate bedrock structures at Nooitgedacht. Tunnel valley systems are common in Pleistocene glacial deposits and Visser (1988, p. 355-357) describes one in the Late Paleozoic deposits of South Africa. All of these features are clearly consistent with glaciers and not "Noah's Flood."
Drumlins are elliptical hills that are moulded by glacial ice or meltwaters. Drumlins are elongated in the direction of glacier or melt water flow (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 435-448). They are common in Pleistocene deposits and have also been found in the Ordovician Tamadjert Formation. In Oards (p. 82) opinion, the Ordovician features are too wide and elliptical to be real drumlins. The drumlins of the Tamadjert Formation are described by Biju-Duval et al. (1981, p. 104) as having an elliptical or oval shape with a short to long axis ratio of 0.5 to 0.25. These values are similar to the short to long axis ratios of 0.5 to 0.29 (or length to width values of 2 to 3.5) for Pleistocene drumlins (Ritter, 1978, p. 418).
Oard (p. 82) further notes that Pleistocene drumlins, supposedly unlike the Ordovician examples, are typically a kilometer long and several tens of meters high, and are not associated with grooved tills. Oards comments are very subjective and, again, are too narrow to even suitably describe Pleistocene drumlins. Drumlins may come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 431-437; Ritter, 1978, p. 416, 418). Their average sizes are about 1 to 2 kilometers in length, 400 to 600 meters in width and 5 to 50 meters high (Ritter, 1978, p. 418). Drumlins may also be composed predominately or entirely of till (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 435). So, theres no reason why some of the drumlin tills could not be grooved. Like Quaternary drumlins, some of the Ordovician drumlins have rock cores (Biju-Duval et al., 1981, p. 104).
Boulder pavements consist of one layer of boulders within glacial deposits. The boulders are often striated. Because boulder pavements occur in Pleistocene glacial deposits, Oard (p. 54) admits that its reasonable to believe that pre-Pleistocene boulder deposits could also have had glacial origins. Although pre-Pleistocene boulder pavements look like Quaternary deposits, a glacial origin for pre-Pleistocene boulder pavements would refute Oards theology, so another explanation must be found to protect YECism. Because the formation of boulder pavements is poorly understood, Oard argues that the pre-Pleistocene boulder deposits could have resulted from non-glacial processes.
Possible boulder pavements may be currently forming in the intertidal zones off the ice-rich coasts of Antarctica and Alaska. Oard (p. 54) notes that the striations on these modern examples tend to be short, fine and crisscrossed. Its interesting that Oard (p. 54-55) makes a point to emphasize that these striations are very different from the striations found on Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene pavements, which tend to be in one direction. In contrast, Oard spends most of chapters 6 (p. 41f) and 7 (p. 49f) exaggerating how inconsistent striation patterns are on glacial rocks and pavements. If dirty ice cant produce consistent striations on faceted rocks or pavements, why should Oard expect them to be consistently parallel on boulder pavements?
Another plausible explanation for the formation of boulder pavements is that glacial meltwaters or marine currents have washed away the finer material from a glacial deposit, leaving only a layer of coarse boulders. Later, other glaciers move over the boulders and striate their tops. Oard (p. 55) is skeptical of this plausible argument because he chains himself to Lyell uniformitarianism and claims that the process has never been observed in modern environments. So what!! Its a plausible and natural explanation. Its a more reasonable idea than "Noahs Flood." Actualism does NOT demand modern examples for every past natural process. Furthermore, the development of boulder pavements from multiple glaciers would be too lengthy of a process to be readily observed.
Bullet-shaped clasts are sometimes associated with boulder pavements (Oard, p. 45; Visser and Hall, 1984; Hicock, 1991). Oard (p. 45) admits that mass movements of till or nonglacial debris are the likely causes of both the boulder pavements and the bullet-shaped clasts. Obviously, Oard wants the origin to involve the mass movement of non-glacial debris. However, Hicock (1991) argues that the features developed from the deformation of till by glaciers and gives no support to a non-glacial origin as Oard (p. 45) hopes.
Oard (p. 55) notes that pre-Pleistocene boulder pavements are typically surrounded by marine diamictites (glaciomarine sediments). He then argues (p. 55) that the formation of boulder pavements in a marine environment is a "challenge" to glaciologists. That is, how can boulder pavements and their striations form underwater? Again, Oard forgets that sea level is not static during glaciations and deglaciations. Its very possible that boulder pavements formed on a glaciated beach and then were drowned and buried with marine sediments as sea level rose during the subsequent deglaciation.
Oard (p. 55, 99) favors a hypothesis by Clark (1991, 1992) for the formation of boulder pavements, obviously because this hypothesis can be more easily modified to support Noahs Flood. As summarized by Oard (p. 55), Clark (1991, 1992) argues that boulder pavements form from till being sheared by overriding glaciers. The larger clasts are forced to the bottom of the deformed till where they collect in a layer and are striated. Oard (p.55) further cites Clark (1991, p. 531), which says:
"Mechanics and rheologies of deforming subglacial sediment are fundamentally similar to those of debris flows."
Oard then attempts to modify Clarks hypothesis to support the formation of boulder pavements by debris flows during Noahs Flood. However, Oard leaves out an important qualifying statement by Clark (1991, p. 531) in a lower paragraph that unravels Oards argument:
"Despite mechanical similarities between debris flows and subglacial deforming sediments, important differences in dynamics between the two systems must be considered in evaluating deposits."
Clark (1991) goes on to describe these differences. Clearly, these differences are quite significant and could be used to distinguish boulder pavements that result from glaciers from any that might result from debris flows. By properly quoting all of Clarks (1991) arguments, Oard would not have had an easy time trying to pass off glacial boulder pavements as a product of debris flows.
Oard (p. 55) also cites Scott (1988) and argues that boulder pavements may form in volcanic lahars (mudflows). Admittedly, there are similarities between boulder distributions in lahars and glacial deposits. However, Scott (1988, p. A43) states that the lahar boulders are not grooved or polished like many glacial boulders.
According to Oard (p. 55-56), boulder layers are present in the Thorp conglomerate, near Yakima, Washington. Oard (p. 56) claims that this formation is a debris flow, but he does not know if the boulder surfaces are striated or not. Of course, non-striated boulder layers could potentially form in any poorly sorted materials, if water winnows out the fines. Certainly, further studies are warranted to compare the similarities and differences between glacial and non-glacial boulder beds. Studies are especially needed to determine if striations are present on non-glacial boulder pavements and how their characteristics may vary from those of glacial specimens.
FOSSIL PERMAFROST FEATURES
Permafrost features rarely leave evidence in the geologic record. Some of the best examples are located in Late Precambrian deposits from Australia (Williams, 1986), which are discussed below. Permafrost features, such as pingos and ice wedge clasts, have been supposedly found in the Ordovician Tamadjert Formation, although unlike the drumlins, roches moutonnees, eskers and most other glacial features in the formation, their existence is quite controversial. Oard (p. 82-83), of course, emphasizes these controversies. As usual, his citations of the literature often do not tell the whole story. For example, according to Oard (p. 67, 82-83), Fairbridge (1970a, p. 878) believes that some of the "ice wedges" in the Ordovician glacial deposits were really sandstone dikes radiating from sand "volcanoes." However, Oard does not tell his readers that Fairbridge (1970a) believes that the sandstone dikes and sand volcanoes formed from nearby ICE loading. In other words, Fairbridge (1970a) still believes that the features are ice-related. Either option is incompatible with Oards "Flood."
Oard (p.82-83) lists several references, including Frakes (1979, p. 83), and claims that subaqueous and subaerial shrinkage patterns can resemble permafrost features. However, Frakes (1979, p. 83) clearly states that glacial or periglacial features may be unequivocally identified. Oard makes the same mistake on p. 84 when he cites Frakes (1979, p. 83) and says that eskers and turbidite channels could be confused. Again, Frakes (1979, p. 83) says that glacial and similar-looking non-glacial features, such as eskers and turbidite channels, may be distinguishable.
EQUATORIAL CONTINENTAL GLACIATIONS OF THE LATE PRECAMBRIAN
Oard (p. 27) admits that there is widespread support for Late Precambrian glaciations and that chattermarks, crescentic gouges, roches moutonnees, and a number of other glacial features have been found in the deposits. Nevertheless, in chapter 4, Oard emphasizes a number of strange properties of the Late Precambrian rocks that he thinks undermines the reality of the glaciations. The Late Precambrian glaciations are often associated with limestones, dolostones and other features that are traditionally interpreted as "warm climate indicators." Another potential problem for the Late Precambrian glacial deposits is that paleomagnetic measurements indicate that the deposits formed near the Late Precambrian equator. Alpine or mountain glaciers currently exist at the equator, such as in the Andes of Ecuador. However, the distribution and stratigraphy of the Late Precambrian deposits clearly indicate that most of them covered large areas at low elevations.
The formation of continental glaciers at the Late Precambrian equator presents challenges for both YECs and scientists. YECs have no choice but to ignore or attempt to dismiss the overwhelming data. Scientists have proposed a number of hypotheses to explain these low latitude continental glaciations, including: low CO2 levels in the atmosphere (Schermerhorn, 1983) and changes in the Earths obliquity (Williams, 1975). Severe glaciations could also result from small, irregular fluctuations in the energy output of the Precambrian Sun. Such fluctuations would not only explain glaciations, but also warm periods during the Precambrian. Perhaps, someday, explorers will find Late Precambrian deposits on Mars. Paleoclimate indicators in Martian sediments may be able to confirm if decreases in solar activity affected both Martian and Terrestrial environments at that time or if the events were unique to Earth and probably not related to the Sun. If the cause(s) for the Late Precambrian glaciations is ever discovered, theres no doubt that itll be natural and not Biblical.
SAND- AND ICE-WEDGE FEATURES IN LATE PRECAMBRIAN DEPOSITS
Williams (1986) describes several Late Precambrian periglacial and glacial features in Scotland, Norway, Ontario (Canada) and especially in South Australia. These features include primary sand wedge polygons, frost heaved blocks, frost thrusting structures, periglacial involutions, sandstone casts of ice wedges, and even a fossil permafrost horizon. Williams (1986, p. 234, 239-240) argues that the presence of these features indicates mean annual air temperatures well below 0C and thin snow covers. Specifically, the presence of primary sand-wedge polygons at Mount Gunson, Australia, and elsewhere suggests a mean annual temperature as low as 5 to 20C and arid conditions. Impressive photographs of one of these polygons are shown in Williams (1986, p. 237).
Seasonal temperature cycles, including rapid drops in temperature, are needed to produce the contraction cracking that promotes the growth of ice and sand wedges (Williams, 1986, p. 234). Williams (1986, p. 240) notes that non-glacial features, such as sandstone dikes and diapiric clay bodies, may resemble periglacial and glacial features. However, the presence of wedge structures in sand and other non-clayey materials, as well as other textural and structural properties can distinguish ice and sand wedges from non-glacial features (Williams, 1986, p. 240). Not surprisingly, Oard largely ignores Williams data and only claims (p. 29) that Williams (1986, 1994) admits that permafrost features are difficult to identify in the geologic record.
PALEOMAGNETIC DATA AND PALEOLATITUDES
Iron minerals in rocks may act as tiny compasses and retain information on the Earths magnetic field at the time of the rocks formation. Assuming that the geographic and magnetic poles more or less coincide as they do today, paleomagnetic data on rocks associated with glacial deposits in South Australia indicate that the glacial rocks formed near the Late Precambrian equator.
Schmidt et al. (1991) performed paleomagnetic studies on samples of Late Precambrian periglacial and glacial rocks from South Australia. On the basis of both paleomagnetic data and varves, Schmidt et al. (1991) conclude that the Late Precambrian glacial deposits of South Australia were deposited at 4 +/- 16 degrees North latitude.
CARBONATES IN COLD CLIMATES
One of the main controversies associated with the Late Precambrian glacial deposits is their supposed close association with "warm water" carbonates and algal stromatolites. That is, glaciers shouldnt be forming next to tropical carbonate sediments.
Although the vast majority of carbonates (limestones and dolostones) over geologic time developed in warm climates, since the early 1970s, most geologists have realized that carbonates and stromatolites may also form in cold environments (Hambrey, 1992, p. 46). As evidence, Hambrey (1992, p. 46) and Eyles (1993, p. 85-86, 108) note that carbonates and stromatolites are forming in modern saline lakes in Canada, Siberia, and the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Oard (p. 31) also admits that carbonates are being found in modern cold climates. However, he (p. 31) cites Deynoux et al. (1994, p. xiv) and simply dismisses polar and subpolar carbonates as being minor, biological, and unlike the carbonates associated with pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits. Walter and Bauld (1983), on the other hand, argue that carbonates in the coastal lagoons of northern Canada and Siberia are very similar to the Late Precambrian deposits. Eyles (1993, p. 108) also cites Fairchild and Spiro (1990) and Fairchild et al. (1989) to argue that Late Proterozoic lacustrine rocks in Spitsbergen are directly comparable to modern saline lake deposits in Antarctica.
Although Oard (p. 28-29) cites Anderson (1983, p.17) to claim that carbonates are commonly associated with Late Precambrian glacial deposits, he conveniently ignores Andersons arguments that calcite precipitation is plausible in cold climates. In particular, Anderson (1983, p.18) quotes Leonard et al. (1981), which argue that the primary factor hindering the formation of abundant carbonates on high latitude continental shelves is not temperature, but the presence of abundant silica-rich continent-derived sediments that dilute the carbonates.
At times, Oards statements exaggerate the supposed problematic relations between carbonates and glacial deposits. For example, Oard (p. 32) cites Lindsay (1970, p. 1150) and describes the Late Paleozoic Pagoda Tillite of Antarctica as having persistent beds of thin limestone averaging "two METERS thick." In reality, Lindsay (1970, p. 1150) describes the limestones as occurring in "very small amounts as thin persistent beds" and on the average being only 20 CENTIMETERS thick. Oard (p. 32) clearly misread and misinterpreted Lindsays statements. Furthermore, strontium isotope ratios indicate that these limestones were deposited in fresh water. So, Oard will have to account for both fresh and salt waters into his "Flood" scenario.
Oard (p. 28) also cites Bertrand-Sarfati et al. (1995, p. 135) to argue that carbonate "caps" often with stromatolites are "conformable" with underlying glacial deposits. If the contacts are truly conformable, they would suggest that the carbonates formed at about the same time as the glacial deposits. Bertrand-Sarfati et al. (1995) specifically deals with evidence of an early Cambrian glaciation in the Fersiga Group of western Africa. A careful review of this article, however, does not support Oards claims for a conformable and Biblically rapid transition between glacial deposits and carbonates. The Fersiga Group consists of continental tillites, glaciolacustrine and fluvioglacial sediments, and eolian deposits (Bertrand-Sarfati, 1995, p. 135), most of which are too dry and cold to have formed during "Noahs Flood." The Fersiga Group also contains ridges that are interpreted as terminal moraines from a retreating Cambrian glacier. A thin layer of carbonates formed on the paleoslopes of the glacial deposits. The carbonates are slumped, fractured and mixed with loose glacial sediments. Fractures in the carbonates are filled with barite (barium sulfate), which means that the carbonate sediments had to have solidified, fractured and then be filled with highly water-insoluble barite deposits. Some of the carbonates were LATER weathered and covered with stromatolite deposits. Above the carbonates is a "wedge" of sedimentary rocks, including phosphorites. Not only do the descriptions of these rocks in Bertrand-Sarfati et al. (1995, p. 135) indicate too long of a history for "Noahs Flood," but Bertrand-Sarfati et al. (1995, p. 135) argue that the rocks support glacial rebound and a glaciation-deglaciation history.
Dolostones are rocks that mostly consist of dolomite, a calcium-magnesium carbonate. Dolomite does not readily precipitate from most natural waters (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 512-519). However, in some cases, the mineral may form in warm subsurface environments from reactions between magnesium-rich brines or groundwaters and calcite-rich (limy) muds and limestones (Blatt et al., 1980, p. 519-528). Suitably warm subsurface conditions could exist in almost any area, including areas with cold surface climates.
As Wonderly (1977, p. 57, 123-125) points out, the alteration of limestones to dolostones creates a serious time problem for YECs. Dolomitization requires that large amounts of magnesium-rich fluids be continuously generated. This takes time. The fluids must pass through often impermeable limy sediments and limestones, which takes more time. The fluids will then be quickly depleted of magnesium as they react with the calcium carbonate. The magnesium-rich fluids must be replenished or dolomitization will end (for example, Blatt et al., 1980, p. 514). Chemical laws dictate that magnesium-rich fluids can contain only so much magnesium at one time. The limited supply of magnesium as well as the impermeable nature of many of the limy muds and limestones prevents dolomitization from occurring within YEC time requirements (Wonderly, 1977, p. 125). YECs cannot get around these chemical processes by simply raising the temperatures. They need miracles or time.
Oard (p. 28) briefly mentions Hardie (1987) and the problems associated with the origin of dolomite. Hardie (1987) is very critical of the current explanations for dolomite formation, which involve the above mentioned interactions between magnesium-rich brines or groundwaters and limy muds and limestones. However, understandably, Oard does not discuss this article in much detail because Hardies proposed alterative mechanisms for dolomite formation could also easily exceed YEC time frames of 10,000 years. The literature clearly indicates that ancient dolostones may have formed from processes that are not substantially operating today. Contrary to YEC misconceptions, actualism does not demand modern analogs for dolomite formation, only that any explanations not violate the laws of chemistry and physics by invoking the supernatural. YECs also face the problem of whatever explanations are found for dolomite formation, the explanations are likely to easily exceed their Genesis time frame.
Detrital dolomite is another possible source for dolostones that are associated with Precambrian glacial deposits. That is, the dolomite originally precipitated under warm surface or near surface conditions; were later exposed and ground up by ice, wind and water; possibly transported; and finally incorporated into glacial deposits. Eyles (1993, p. 108) emphasizes that there were abundant sources for detrital dolomite during the Late Precambrian and that dolomite within the glacial deposits are "overwhelmingly" of detrital origin. Deynoux et al. (1994, p. xiv-xv) also argue that theres evidence that dolomite associated with Precambrian glacial deposits is detrital. In response to these reasonable explanations, all Oard (p. 30-31) can do is accuse Eyles (1993) of having a "difficult position." Oard (p. 30) finds it difficult to believe that through plate tectonics, continents may drift over millions of years from lower latitudes where carbonates may readily form to higher latitudes were continental glaciers may exist. However, Pleistocene glacial deposits occur on approximately 500 million year old Ordovician limestones and dolostones in southern Manitoba, Canada. So, why isnt it possible that continents could also have moved from warm to cooler climatic regions during the billions of years of Precambrian history?
Crossing and Gostin (1994) discusses the origins of dolostones in Late Precambrian glacial deposits in South Australia in some detail. The Appila Tillite rests disconformably on the dolomitic sediments of the Burra Group. Dolomite is also common within the tillite. The Appila Tillite probably formed by two glacial advances and is overlain by a marine shale that developed after the glaciers melted and sea level rose (Crossing and Gostin, 1994, p. 165). Using stable carbon and oxygen isotope data, Crossing and Gostin (1994, p. 165, 174) argue that the dolomites within the tillite matrix are detrital rock flour (ground up older rocks) that has been altered, perhaps by glacial meltwaters. Because the discussions in Crossing and Gostin (1994) indicate long and often-cold depositional histories for these rocks, all Oard (p. 28) can do is mislabel their reasonable discussions as "lamenting" or "dismayed."
MIDDLE PRECAMBRIAN GOWGANDA GLACIAL DEPOSITS
The Gowganda Formation of Ontario, Canada, consists of Middle Precambrian glacial deposits. Geologists almost unanimously accept a glacial origin for the formation, although glacial origins are sometimes doubted for the associated Lake Ramsay and Bruce diamictites (Eyles, 1993, p. 61). As usual, Oard (p. 71-72) manages to locate a few skeptics of the glacial origin for the Gowganda Formation, many of which published their opinions in 1961 and earlier. Eyles (1993, p. 61) cites Card (1978) as claiming that the formations of the Huronian Supergroup, which include the Gowganda Formation, are non-glacial mass flows. Oard (p. 71) repeats Eyles claim. However, in reality, Card (1978, p. 125) believes that glaciations may have been responsible for initially providing the sediments for the Huronian Supergroup. Oard (p. 72) also cites Young (1981, p. 811) as admitting that part of the Gowganda Formation was deposited by mudflows. In reality, Young (1981, p. 811) states that mass flows MAY have been locally important in the deposition of the formation, but that glacial processes were dominant.
Both the glacial and non-glacial components of the Huronian Supergroup have southerly paleoflow directions (Oard, p. 72-73). Oard (p. 72) believes that it's an incredible coincidence that the glaciers of the Gowganda Formation flowed in the same southerly direction as the mass flows in the other parts of the supergroup. Actually, this is not surprising. Even Oard's Figure 9.6 on p. 72 clearly illustrates why both the glaciers and the mass flows went south during the deposition of the Huronian Supergroup. There is a clear southward dipping paleoslope on the older Precambrian (Archean) basement in the figure. Of course, thick glaciers could easily flow over low hills or shallow basins, but, in general, both glaciers and mudflows find it easier to flow downhill than uphill, or to flow into a basin than out of one. In the northeastern United States, both Pleistocene glaciers (Oards Figure 10.4, p. 80) and most (but not all) associated rivers flowed south and the rivers continue to flow south today, 10,000 years after the glaciers are gone. Therefore, flow directions may be consistent for multiple materials (ice, mud, and water) over long periods of time.
Most of the Gowganda Formation is glaciomarine, although some tillites are probably present. Brecciated igneous boulders in parts of the formation may indicate deposition by land-based glaciers (tillites) (Harker and Giegengack, 1989). Oard (p. 72) dismisses Harker and Giegengacks (1989) arguments for land-based glaciers on the grounds that the authors admitted that their work was tentative and based on limited data and many assumptions. Nevertheless, Harker and Giegengack (1989, p.125) make the following observations, which sink Oard's efforts to fit these rocks into mass flows from "Noah's Flood":
"Given that the brecciation ... [references to their figures omitted here] ... has been caused by crushing of densely packed clasts, it is unlikely that forces large enough to cause this breakage could be transmitted through a slowly advancing mud flow. Although it is easy to visualize boulders striking each other with shattering force as they move at high speed in a landslide, it is difficult to imagine broken pieces remaining adjacent to their parents in such a situation. The same argument can be made against an origin through catastrophic flood, mudslide, or high-speed turbidity current."
Oard (p. 72) cites Junnila and Young (1995), Miall (1985) and other references as indicating that the Gowganda Formation has "abundant evidence" of mass flow. However, Junnila and Young (1995, p. 197) actually describes the lower Gowganda Formation as being glaciogenic. While Miall (1985, p. 763) argues for a marine origin for the Gowganda Formation, he also claims that continental glaciers supplied the coarse debris. Oard (p. 72-73) attacks Miall for continuing to support a glacial association for the Gowganda Formation rather than accepting the YEC position that the formation only had a non-glacial origin. Miall has abundant reasons to maintain his support for a glacial association. For example, iceberg dropstones are abundant in the formation and Miall (1983) explains why their glacial origins are definitive. As discussed earlier, only icebergs can explain the origins of abundant Precambrian dropstones.
Despite the multiple depositional events and complex history that are associated with the Gowganda Formation as presented in Miall (1985), Junnila and Young (1995), and other references, Oard (p. 75) concludes that the entire Gowganda Formation was deposited as one huge debris flow!! YECs want to believe that debris flows from Noah's Flood could have spread sediment over at least 250 km north to south and 400 km east to west across the Gowganda basin. Obviously, Miall (1983) does not believe in such huge turbidity flows and argues (p. 488-489) that the formation's large area resulted from continental glaciers delivering the sediment by advancing and retreating far south into the basin. Furthermore, Fedo et al. (1997) argue that the preservation of abundant plagioclase in the Serpent Formation, which underlies the Gowganda Formation, indicates less intense weathering conditions and is consistent with the presence of widespread Gowganda continental glaciers.
Not surprisingly, Oard (p. 106) cites a statement by Frarey (1977, p. 10) that the 12 km thick Huronian Supergroup was "rapidly deposited." However, its obvious that Frarey did not have "Noahs Flood" in mind when he said this. Frarey (1977, p. 58) even refers to changes in climate, uplift and other slow events as the sediments of the supergroup were deposited.
Frarey and Oard clearly define "rapid" differently and this is an example of how a relative and flexible term, such as "rapidly," may be easily misused and misunderstood by people with radically different viewpoints. When geologists say "rapid," it can mean anything from hours to tens of millions of years. When YECs hear the term, they think of seconds to one year during "Noahs Flood" or a literal creation consisting of six days. Also, see: van Loon (1999) for a geologists perspective on "aruptness."
LATE ORDOVICIAN GLACIATION IN NORTH AFRICA
A great variety of Ordovician glacial and periglacial features have been found in North Africa, including roches moutonnees, drumlins, striated and grooved pavements, crescentic friction cracks, step fractures, ice-push structures, and fluted tillite surfaces (Hambrey, 1985, p. 276-277). In chapter 10, Oard attempts to undermine the overwhelming evidence for Ordovician glaciations in North Africa through a series of ad hoc attacks and misquotations from the literature.
Oard (p. 77) begins by complaining that there is very little information on the Ordovician geology of North Africa. Recent civil wars in Algeria and Morocco and conflicts between Libya and its neighbors have certainly hindered fieldwork. Nevertheless, Algerian, French and other geologists have managed to accumulate enough field data to confirm the reality of the Ordovician glaciations. Many of the publications on the North African deposits are in French (e.g., Beuf et al., 1971). Nevertheless, a significant number of English articles are available for those of us, like Oard and me, that are not fluent in French.
Fairbridge (1971b) summarizes the discovery and exploration of the North African Ordovician glacial deposits. According to Fairbridge (1971b, p. 67), French geologists discovered the deposits at about the same time that British and Australian geophysicists independently predicted that North Africa was located near the South Pole during the Ordovician. Despite the evidence, healthy skepticism of Ordovician North African glaciations continued for many years until even more overwhelming paleomagnetic and field evidence came forward. As stated in Fairbridge (1970b, p.18), efforts in the late 1960s to locate the Ordovician paleopole clearly had its skeptics:
"Separate lines of reasoning indicated that indeed there ought to be an Ordovician pole somewhere in the Sahara. Fossil biofacies indicators pointed that way and at least one map indicated that it was a South Pole, and in 1969 I suggested that it should be referred to as a Gondwana Pole because its location in the present Northern Hemisphere makes the label south rather confusing. Others added sedimentological to paleontological arguments. I pointed out that the paleomagnetic data from Africa called for the same thing; indeed there was a convergence of all these different lines of evidence. Yet there were still many who said no, it is impossible."
The abundant field evidence, independent confirmations with paleomagnetic data, and the initial skepticism of the glacial interpretations refute Oards suggestions (p. 78) that glaciologists are infected with "reinforcement syndrome." Apparently, skeptical geologists are not so anxious to grab any Flood-refuting, "God-distancing" evidence as some YECs claim. Furthermore, contrary to Oards claim (p. 82), Fairbridge (1971a, p. 269) indicates that there was UNANIMOUS agreement on the glacial origins of these Ordovician rocks among the participants of a 1970 field trip to the outcrops. That is, once the skeptics and uncommitted geologists saw the outcrops for themselves, the glacial interpretations were unanimously accepted. Finally, the evidence for Ordovician glaciations in North Africa became so overwhelming that even Schermerhorn (1976, p. 379) gave up his skepticism.
Paleomagnetic studies were important in confirming that North African glacial deposits were located near the South Pole during the Ordovician (Fairbridge, 1970b, p. 18; 1971b, p. 67). Obviously, Oard (p. 29-30) is very skeptical of the reliability of paleomagnetic data. In particular, Oard (p.78) claims that the Ordovician paleopole was "moved" 4,500 kilometers to better support the glacial interpretations of the North African outcrops. Oards accusation originates from Meyerhoff and Meyerhoff (1974, p. 56), an outdated anti-plate tectonics reference. Fairbridge (1971b), being three years older than Meyerhoff and Meyerhoff (1974), does not address this issue. Fairbridge (1971b, p. 67) states:
"Paleomagnetic readings in Africa indicate pole positions for about 400 to 500 million years ago in the region between the Cape Verde Islands and Morocco. If South America is brought up side by side with Africa, according to generally accepted theories of continental drift, its poles for the same period coincide almost exactly with Africas."
Despite the controversies between Fairbridge (1971b) and Meyerhoff and Meyerhoff (1974), recently available paleomagnetic data confirmed that, like the Pleistocene continental glaciers, the Ordovician continental glaciers never reached any closer than 40 degrees latitude from their equator (Smith, 1997, p. 161).
HOW FLAT ARE THE UPPER AND LOWER CONTACTS FOR THE ORDOVICIAN NORTH AFRICAN GLACIAL DEPOSITS?
U-shaped valleys and other glacially eroded features are expected to be found underneath glacial deposits. Oard (p. 78-79) misuses the literature and tries to portray the contact between the glacial deposits of the Ordovician Tamadjert Formation and their underlying non-glacial rocks as "flat" and devoid of evidence of glacial erosion. As examples, Oard (p. 78) misquotes three references (Biju-Duval et al., 1981, p. 101; Deynoux and Trompette, 1981, p. 92,95; Deynoux, 1985, p. 98) and claims that these references indicate that the glacial rocks lie on an "exceptionally flat surface" over the Sahara. In reality, they all state that on a large or regional scale, the contact APPEARS flat, but locally the contact is uneven with up to several hundred meters of relief. Specifically, Deynoux (1985, p. 98) states:
"The glacial deposits overlie a surface which is very planar on a large scale but uneven on a local scale."
Deynoux and Trompette (1981, p. 92) says:
"The lower boundary of the glacial formations is roughly planar on the scale of the basin but uneven on a local scale with numerous down-cutting paleovalleys and paleodepressions which are relatively deep, with amplitudes up to 200 m."
Oard (p. 78-79) also misquotes Fairbridge (1979, p. 137) to give the false impression that the lower contact of the glacial Tamadjert Formation is "almost dead-flat." However, Fairbridge (1979, p. 137) was arguing against the presence of any massive landslides on a huge regional scale, which, by the way, would directly refute Oards Flood ideas. Like Deynouxs articles, Fairbridges "flat surface" comments do not apply to small, local outcrops.
Oard (p. 78) also misquotes Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2230, 2235) and again claims that the contact underlying the Ordovician glacial rocks is "perfectly flat." In reality, Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2230) are describing the contact between largely Precambrian igneous and metamorphic "bedrocks" (Oards Figure 10.3, p. 79) and the overlying NON-GLACIAL Ajjers Formation ("Unit II" in Oards Figure 10.3, p. 79 classification). In most places, the Tamadjert Formation ("Unit IV") overlies the sedimentary rocks of the In Tahouite ("Unit III") and Ajjers formations rather than the lower most Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks (Bennacef et al., 1971).
Discussions on the glacial Tamadjert Formation are also in Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2235). Like the other references, Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2235) gives descriptions of contacts that are far from flat. In the Tassili NAjjer region, in particular, the contact underlying the Tamadjert Formation consists of 100-300 meter deep paleovalleys, which once contained the glaciers that deposited the Tamadjert Formation. Frakes (1979, p. 120) also describes the unconformity below the Tamadjert Formation as being irregular and having subglacial valleys up to 40 km long and 300 m deep. In places, In Tahouite Formation sandstones have been sheared off, pushed forward in slices, and carried down paleovalley slopes (Bennacef et al., 1971, p. 2235). The authors interpret the features as resulting from ice thrusting. Some of the Ordovician glaciers of North Africa were described as flowing through precarved valleys. Some of these valleys have characteristic U-shaped glacial profiles (Bennacef et al., 1971, p.2235), which were carved by ice and water (Fairbridge, 1979, p. 139). Again, these descriptions are hardly consistent with Oards claims of flat and undisturbed formations under the Ordovician glacial deposits.
Oards (p. 79) description of the "flat" contact between the top of the glacial Tamadjert Formation and overlying Silurian shales is also not entirely consistent. The upper contact between the glacial Tamadjert Formation and overlying shales is fairly sharp (abrupt) (Bennacef et al., 1971, p. 2241). However, field evidence indicates that the contact has a lengthy history, contrary to the claims made by Oard (p. 79). Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2241) describe the shales as overlying a sandstone, where the top few centimeters of the sandstone have been borrowed. How did any critters get in the middle of rapidly deposited "Flood" sediments and dig burrows before the shale was deposited? Ancient dunes, 20-30 meters wide, are present at the northern exposures of the Tassili NAjjer and probably formed in shallow near shore environments. Again, these features are incompatible with mass flows that were supposedly associated with deep, violent "Flood" waters. Overall, the contact between the Tamadjert Formation and overlying Silurian shales is consistent with a marine transgression associated with the melting of glaciers. Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2241) also cite boron analyses and other geochemical evidence from these deposits to support a glacial related rise in sea level.
Overall, Oard (p. 78-79) tries to portray the Ordovician Tamadjert Formation as not being typical of Pleistocene or modern glacial sediments. However, researchers such as Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2235) conclude:
"The distribution of topographic landforms [in the Ordovician glacial deposits] is similar to the landscapes of Quaternary continental ice sheets."
ANIMAL BURROWS, PALEOSOLS, AND ANIMAL TRAILS REFUTE A "FLOOD" ORIGIN
The sedimentary rocks underlying and overlying the Tamadjert Formation frequently contain animal burrows ("Skolithos"), paleosols (ancient soils) and animal trails (Bennacef et al., 1971, p. 2226, 2230, 2234, 2240-2242). These features present numerous problems for YECs, since YECs believe that "Noahs Flood" deposited these rocks in only about one year. Again, how could animals live, walk and burrow in the middle of "Flood deposits"? Soil development requires subaerial weathering over extended periods of time (Meyer, 1997, p. 120). How did paleosols develop in these "Flood" deposits? YECs might argue that the soils, burrows, and trails formed in "pre-Flood" sediments and were later somehow stacked during the "Flood." Yet, how could the "Flood" stack these fragile burrows and other features in consistently upright positions and still rapidly transport huge amounts of churning sediment over hundreds of square kilometers across the Sahara Desert (Oard, p. 81)? Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2242-2243) also describes stream deposits as having paleocurrent properties that are consistent with seasonal changes. How could a relatively small amount of sediments from the middle of a year-long "Flood" experience any seasonal changes?
TEXTURES OF THE TAMADJERT AND AJJERS FORMATIONS
Oard (p. 79) describes the glacial Tamadjert Formation as being very sandy with only a "few large pebbles" in its matrix. However, the references that Oard cites give very different descriptions of the formation. For example, the "few pebbles" supposedly mentioned by Fairbridge (1971a, p. 271) actually weigh several tons!! The formation is also described as being argillaceous (clay-rich), as well as sandy (Biju-Duval et al., 1981, p. 99). Additionally, silts, conglomerates, breccias and bouldery or gravelly clays are present in the Tamadjert Formation (Biju-Duval et al., 1981, p. 100). That is, the Tamadjert Formation has very diverse lithologies, which are consistent with poorly sorted glacial materials, as described by the following statement in Bennacef et al. (1971, p.2226, 2230):
"No typical section can be established because of the apparent disorder in the detail of the facies i.e., boulder clays, siliceous shales, siltstones, unsorted argillaceous sandstones, crossbedded and mud-cobble sandstones."
The sands of the lower part of the Ajjers Formation are very "mature," that is, they lack heavy minerals and rock fragments (Bennacef et al., 1971, p. 2232). Typically, it takes long periods of erosion to destroy rock fragments; remove heavy minerals, such as garnets, and leave a sand or sandstone that is almost entirely quartz. How could mature sands and sandstones form in a "Flood deposit" or even on a 6,000 to 10,000 year old Earth?
SAND AND ORDOVICIAN GLACIATIONS
After overemphasizing the sand content of the Tamadjert Formation, Oard (p. 79) argues that the formation could not have had a glacial origin because "real" glacial deposits are not predominately composed of sand. Actually, theres no reason why glacial deposits couldnt be rich in sand, especially if they formed from the erosion of nearby thick sandstones and sand deposits. Fairbridge (1971a, p. 271) even notes that the Wisconsin age Pleistocene tills that cover much of northeastern Germany and Poland are also sandy. Oard (p. 79) claims that glaciers would have difficulty moving over loose sand. However, Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) argues that glaciers could advance over sands that are well cemented with thick permafrost. Oard (p. 79) scoffs at the idea that permafrost could effectively cement sands. However, ice can certainly form strong cements as any Canadian gravedigger can testify and relatively thin glaciers moving over sands cemented with thick permafrost are not as silly as "Noahs Flood." Oard (p.79) further argues that IF the glaciers were thick, heating from basal sliding and insulation would have easily melted the permafrosted sand and ruined the glacial advance. Of course, there is no reason why these glaciers had to have been very thick. Nevertheless, Fairbridge (1971, p. 272) notes that minor surface rippling on some striated pavements could have been due to contact melting from friction created by the flow of Ordovician glaciers. In any case, Oard (p. 79) and Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) do not produce any ice physics or engineering evidence to back up their opposing claims.
Allen (1975, p. 283) also describes a glacially related sandstone-filled tunnel in the underlying Ajjers Formation. Two glacial deposits also overlie the tunnel system. Clearly, at least some of the materials had to have been sufficiently lithified to support natural tunnels.
UNUSUAL UNIDIRECTIONAL FLOW PATTERNS?
As Oard (p. 80) indicates, glaciers may flow in radial patterns from a central thick dome. Although Late Paleozoic glacial deposits in South Africa show evidence of glacial domes and radiating patterns (Strahler, 1987, p. 263), most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits are too eroded to show these features. Oard (p. 80) claims that the striations associated with the Ordovician glaciations of North Africa are too parallel and unidirectional to be glacial. Specifically, he states that the striations are northward throughout the western and central Sahara (Biju-Duval et al., 1981, p. 106; Deynoux, 1985, p. 102-103). A careful review of field results and maps in Deynoux (1985, p. 102-103), however, shows that North Africa was located on the northern half of one huge Ordovician ice sheet with one spreading center. Biju-Duval et al. (1981, p. 106) also argue that the data support the existence of one huge spreading center rather than several individual centers. Although the flow directions were northward, Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2235) comment:
"Striations, grooves, and the direction of the glacial thrusts indicate an ice movement everywhere toward the north, northwest, or north-northeast."
So, the paleoflow directions are not absolutely parallel. The Ordovician ice sheet was so large that its southern portion was not preserved. Oard only creates problems for himself by ignoring the effects of hundreds of million years of erosion and plate tectonics.
UNUSUAL ABRADED PAVEMENTS FOR THE ORDOVICIAN GLACIATIONS?
Some of the most amazing features of the Ordovician glacial deposits of North Africa are the abrasion grooves and associated striations that cover hundreds of square kilometers. While Oard believes in the magic of Noahs Flood, Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) indicates that the grooves and striations cover too large of areas to have been produced by anything but glacial ice. Oard (p. 80) attempts to argue that the striations are too parallel to be from ice on the basis of paleoflow directions for the better preserved Pleistocene Laurentide ice sheet around the Great Lakes of North America. While Oard (p. 81) accuses Fairbridge (1971a, p. 272) of strict "uniformitarian" thinking, Oard is really the one with the Lyell uniformitarian biases by refusing to realize that the flow of the North African (northern) portion of the Ordovician ice sheet could have been much more unidirectional than the Laurentide ice sheet. Furthermore, evidence of multiple flow directions would be better preserved in the relatively recent Pleistocene Laurentide deposits than in the severely eroded Ordovician deposits.
Oard (p. 80) also stresses that the Ordovician grooves are only present in sediments that were soft at the time of the glaciations and not in the harder metamorphic and igneous rocks. Again, in most places, the Tamadjert Formation overlies the sedimentary rocks of the In Tahouite and Ajjers formations rather than Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks (Bennacef et al., 1971). Perhaps the glaciers were too thin and free of large abrasive debris to extensively scratch any hard igneous and metamorphic rocks that might have been present.
Oard (p. 80) further argues that striations and grooves are not only located at the lower boundary of the Tamadjert Formation, but also within the formation. Striations and grooves within the formation do not refute its glacial origin, but simply indicate that the formation was the product of several separate glacial events. Specifically, Biju-Duval et al. (1981, p. 104) state:
"These features [striated glacial pavements, fluted surfaces, drumlins, roches moutonnees and glacial valleys] are not restricted to the unconformity at the base of the Tamadjert Formation; they are also present along erosional unconformities within the formation, thus giving evidence of successive glacial phases related to inland ice fluctuations."
Eskers are elevated river deposits that form in ice tunnels inside glaciers. As with other topics, Oard (p. 83) attempts to undermine the existence of eskers in the Ordovician glacial deposits of North Africa through a series of misquotations and misrepresentations of the literature. Oard (p.83) quotes (Bennacef et al., 1971, p. 2237) as saying that some participants of the 1970 field trip to the North African glacial deposits were skeptical of claims that certain features were eskers. Actually, p. 2237 of Bennacef et al. (1971) says nothing about skepticism of the Ordovician eskers. The text simply states that Rapp thought that some channeled sandstone bodies could be eskers. No objections to his statement were recorded. Next Oard (p. 83-84) quotes Fairbridge (1979, p. 142-143) and says that Fairbridge is not confident that some channel sandstones with inverted relief were true eskers. However, in reality, Fairbridge (1979, p. 143) argues for the probable presence of Ordovician eskers in North Africa. He even notes that sometimes they have slump features like Pleistocene eskers.
Oard (p. 84) cites an example an "esker-like mound" from Allen (1975, p. 281). Oard (p. 84) states that the "esker" had been overridden by two glacial advances represented by two tillites on top of the "esker." He (p. 84) is skeptical that the delicate "esker" could have survived being run over even once by an advancing glacier. However, later on p. 84, Oard has no trouble believing that such "eskers" could be buried and preserved rather than destroyed by high-density turbidity currents.
In reality, the "esker" and related features are located within an inselberg, which is sketched and shown in Allen (1975, p. 281). The "esker" is actually a channel fill deposit in a narrow valley within Unit II (Ajjers Formation). The Ajjers Formation protected the loose channel deposits from being eroded away by at least two subsequent glacial events. A photograph of this feature or one that looks just like it is in Bennacef et al. (1971, p. 2237). The channel deposits are not really an esker as its normally defined, but rather are subglacial channel fill deposits. A glacier filled and topped a narrow valley in the Ajjers Formation. A river formed within the glacial ice in the narrow valley. Material from the Ajjers Formation overhangs into the filled valley, which indicates that the subglacial stream cut into the lower valley sides and filled the valley with fluvial sediments. Allen (1975, p. 281) seems to refer to the channel fill as the "esker." Later another glacier eroded the tops of the valley and deposited additional material, including some fluvial material, over the top of the valley fill. The material from the Ajjers Formation protected the channel fill deposits (Allens "esker"?) from being eroded away. Later, another glacier came in and deposited additional material on top of the sequence. After millions of years of erosion, only a small part of the original sequence remains as an inselberg.
Benn and Evans (1998, p. 450-457) provide examples of rivers, lakes, or seas burying and preserving eskers rather than destroying them. So, eskers may not be as fragile as Oard (p. 84) believes.
Oard (p. 84) also complains that the Ordovician eskers dont look like real Pleistocene eskers; however, as usual, his complaints are invalid subjective biases. First of all, Oard (p. 84) claims that "real" eskers have plenty of boulders and pebbles, but that the Ordovician eskers consist of sand with few coarser grains. Again, this is an invalid argument. Eskers could contain any size clasts depending on the sources of the sediments. Because sandstones dominated the source rocks for the Ordovician glacial deposits, its not surprising that most of the material in the eskers would be sandy. Next, Oard (p. 84) argues that the largest Ordovician esker is one kilometer wide, which is supposedly much larger than Quaternary eskers. The size of the eskers would certainly vary with the size of the glaciers. However, eskers are known to have widths of up to 3 kilometers (Ritter, 1978, p. 410). So, there's nothing to indicate that the widths of the Ordovician eskers are unusually large.
Unable to accept the existence of eskers and other evidence for Ordovician glaciations, Oard (p. 84) suggests that the Ordovician eskers are actually the remains of channeled turbidity currents. Oard (p. 84) cites Rampino (1994, p. 442) as coming to the same conclusion. However, Rampino (1994, p. 442) will only admit that SOME of the Ordovician eskers MAY be channelized mass flows, and he provides no details to support his brief statement.
While eskers are supposedly too delicate to survive being eroded by glaciers, Oard (p. 84) has no trouble believing that they could have been buried and preserved by subsequent high-density turbidity currents. Fairbridge (1979, p. 143) discusses how cementation and erosion could explain the preservation of the Ordovician eskers. In contrast, without ANY evidence, Oard (p. 84, 107) argues that the channeled sand deposits from the "Flood" became consistently more lithified than the surrounding sands that buried them. Oard never explains or provides evidence on how adjacent and supposedly similar sands could experience such different degrees of lithification. Later, according to Oard (p. 84, 107), the softer, less lithified materials eroded away leaving behind the elevated channeled turbidites that were confused for eskers by geologists. Oard offers a lot of speculation here, but no evidence to support it.
Oard (p. 84) cites a number of references that discuss the similarities between fluvial deposits and turbidites. The information is interesting but doesnt directly relate to eskers. He finally cites Frakes (1979) and Miall (1985, p. 786) to claim that turbidite channels could be misidentified as eskers. In reality, Frakes (1979, p. 83) argues that glacial and similar-looking non-glacial features, such as eskers and turbidite channels, should be distinguishable through careful fieldwork. This reference does not help Oard's cause. Miall (1985, p. 786) is another article that compares turbidite channel deposits with fluvial deposits, but does not directly discuss eskers. Clearly, careful fieldwork is needed to distinguish eskers, turbidite channel deposits, and fluvial deposits. However, considering the available field data on the Ordovician eskers, Oards concerns about misidentifications are unwarranted.
Schermerhorn (1976, p. 379) finally accepted the evidence for Ordovician glaciations in West Africa. Oard (p. 32, 84) inaccurately claims that Schermerhorn only accepted these glaciations because the glacial deposits were not associated with any supposedly warm-climate carbonates. However, this is not the complete truth. Besides the absence of carbonates, Schermerhorn (1976, p. 379) also accepted the Ordovician glaciations because of what he calls "a rather complete glacial apparatus, including eskers." Therefore, even Schermerhorn, one of the most vocal critics of pre-Pleistocene glaciations, eventually came to accept the reality of the Ordovician glaciations because of the presence of eskers and other obviously glacial features in the deposits. Schermerhorns defection pretty well leaves the YECs without any recent scientific support for their opposition to the Ordovician glaciations.
LATE PALEOZOIC GLACIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA
The Late Carboniferous to Early Permian glacial Dwyka Group is located in the Karoo Basin of South Africa. Like the Gowganda Formation, the Dwyka Group was once identified as continental glacial deposits (tillites), but is now considered to be dominantly glaciomarine (Visser, 1993). The glacial origin of the Dwyka Group has been almost unanimously accepted during the 20th century. Oard (p. 87-88) does cite two old and unreliable references as examples of skeptics of the Dwyka glaciations: Sandberg (1928) and Anonymous (1960). Furthermore, Oard (p. 17, 88) misrepresents Rampino (1992, 1994) and Oberbeck et al. (1993a,b; 1994) and claims that "most and possibly all" pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits could be debris from meteorite impacts. In reality, Rampino (1994, p. 439) and Oberbeck et al. (1993a, p. 1; 1993b, p. 681; 1994, p. 488) only claim that SOME of the pre-Pleistocene glacial sediments could be impact deposits. Recently, Reimold et al. (1997) performed detailed petrographical studies on over 75,000 minerals and rocks from the Dwyka Group and found NO definitive evidence of impact shock metamorphism. Reimold et al. (1997) further states that there is no unequivocal evidence of any kind to support an impact origin for the Dwyka Group.
MARINE REGRESSIONS AND TRANSGRESSIONS
Although his writing is vague, Oard (p. 89) seems to be claiming that there is "no evidence" of a marine transgression (relative rise in sea level) between the upper deposits of the Dwyka Group and the Prince Albert and Whitehill formations of the overlying Ecca Group. He may have obtained this misconception from Visser (1991, p. 261). By claiming that there's no evidence of a marine transgression, Oard implies that the entire rock sequence originated under deep water ("Flood") conditions and that sea level did not rise (transgress) and fall (regress) with the waning and waxing of Late Paleozoic continental glaciers. However, Visser (1993, especially p. 117) argues for multiple marine transgressions and regressions during the deposition of the Dwyka and overlying Ecca groups. The changes in sea level did coincide with climatic changes and the waxing and waning of Late Paleozoic glaciers (Visser, 1993, p. 127-129).
FLOOD-INCOMPATIBLE LITHOLOGIES AND PALEOGEOGRAPHIC RECONSTRUCTIONS
The various lithologies within the Dwyka and Ecca groups have different glacial and non-glacial interpretations (Visser, 1993, p. 117) and include deposits from brackish seas, interglacial marine conditions, floating ice and grounded ice. The different lithologies were then used to construct Late Paleozoic paleogeographic maps of South Africa, as shown in Visser (1993, p. 123). Unlike Noahs Flood, the depositional environments identified by Visser (1993) are supported by facies, sedimentological, mineralogical, and fossil data. All of these field observations are completely incompatible with Oards claims (p. 94) that the Dwyka Group is a mass flow, presumably from Noahs Flood. Furthermore, while Oard speculates on mass flows during "Noahs Flood," Stratten (1977) presents real data that indicates that the Late Paleozoic ice sheets in South Africa flowed in different directions at different times.
Not only does Oard have to explain the presence of ice, he also must explain how salts could concentrate to form brackish water during the year-long Biblical Flood. Specifically, the Whitehill Shale of the Ecca Group contains water-soluble salts, including halite (NaCl, "table salt") and gypsum (Oelofsen, 1987, p. 131, 136). How could such water-soluble salts precipitate from abundant "Flood waters"? Any salts would easily dissolve and disperse in the massive and violent "Flood waters." Salts precipitate from brines, which typically form from the slow evaporation of seawater in dry climates.
EXOTIC VERSUS LOCAL CLASTS
Oard continues his attack on the glacial origin of the Dwyka Group by claiming that its characteristics are unlike those of Pleistocene and modern glacial deposits. For example, the Dwyka Group contains few clasts from underlying rocks and more clasts from more distance sources (Oard, p. 90, 104). Specifically, Oard (p. 90) quotes Visser and Loock (1982, p. 185-186) and claims that for one section of the Dwyka glacial deposits only 1% of the clasts are from underlying rocks while 99% come from more distance sources. In contrast, Oard (p. 90) claims that continental Pleistocene tills mostly consist of locally derived rocks. Although the Dwyka Group is probably mostly glaciomarine, Visser and Loock (1982, p. 186) do not agree with Oards assessment that the glacial sediments of the Dwyka Group are different than Pleistocene glacial deposits, as indicated by the following statements:
"If the limited amount of locally derived debris in the basal Dwyka tillite, the fact that the ice was afloat in certain areas, the low relief in the basin during the Carboniferous, the possibility of cold-based ice in certain areas, and the location of the basin distantly from the ice-spreading centre are taken into consideration, it seems clear that glacial erosion of the Cape Supergroup in the southern part of the basin was probably on a small scale and localized. This conclusion is in line with evidence of continental erosion by the Pleistocene ice sheets in North America and northern Europe [references omitted]."
DWYKA: HOW MUCH MASS MOVEMENT?
Oard (p. 91) attacks the validity of the glacial deposits of the Dwyka Group by claiming that abundant "non-glacial" mass flows are already known to be present in the group and that distinguishing glacial deposits from non-glacial mass flows is very uncertain. Specifically, Oard (p. 91) cites an example from Mexico in Humphrey (1956, p. 1323) and Newell (1957) of how a now-known non-glacial diamictite was earlier mistaken for a glacial deposit. According to Oard (p. 91), Humphrey (1956, p. 1323) and Newell (1957) show how mass flow deposits may be easily mistaken for glacial deposits. Nevertheless, more recent and detailed studies by Visser (1993), Cole (1991), and others demonstrate that the glacial and non-glacial deposits of the Dwyka and Ecca groups are distinguishable with careful laboratory and fieldwork.
Oard (p. 91) also cites a number of references that indicate that the Dwyka Group contains many debris flow deposits. Oard implies that since much of the group is already considered to be "non-glacial mass flows," why not believe that the entire group is "non-glacial" and related to "Noah's Flood"? However, as with the Gowganda Formation (Miall, 1985, p. 763) and Quaternary deposits off the coast of Antarctica (Wright and Anderson, 1982), Oard's and other references (e.g., Cole, 1991, p. 286) argue that the debris flows of the Dwyka Group are often remobilized glacial sediments.
While glaciers can easily pulverize rocks and produce abundant sediment for both mass flow and glacial deposits, Oard must explain how or where "Noahs Flood" got all that sediment. Hard silicate rocks are not rapidly weathered to clay. As summarized in Visser (1987a, 1987b, 1989, 1993), the stratigraphy, mineralogy, paleontology, sedimentology, and paleogeography of the rocks of the Dwyka and Ecca groups are consistent with glaciations, included glaciers that were grounded on continental shelves.
PINNACLES IN AN ICE SHEET
According to Oard (p. 92, 99), the Dwyka ice sheets should have planed off the topography of South Africa and, in particular, the lava knobs near Kimberley, South Africa. Because some delicate and narrow rock ridges and pinnacles are present at the base of the Dwyka glacial deposits or have been interpreted to have existed in South Africa during the Late Paleozoic (Visser, 1987a, p. 124-125), Oard (p. 92, 99) claims that glaciers could never have been present in the area. The features could not have survived glacial erosion. Of course, Oard is failing to realize that such ridges and pinnacles, called nunataks, commonly protrude through glacial ice. Benn and Evans (1998, p. 218) shows a nice photograph of some modern nunataks in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Glaciers may certainly destroy pinnacles and ridges, but they also may go around others, bury and preserve others in sediment (von Brunn, 1981, p. 121-122; Cole, 1991, p. 274), or sculpt other rocks into very delicate features. Any nunataks may be eventually buried and preserved or destroyed by erosion. Horns, aretes, and other narrow and sharp features are also commonly associated with alpine glaciers. Furthermore, sharp ridges may readily develop between two adjacent valley glaciers. Pinnacles and ridges, therefore, may easily form in glacial environments, depending on the presence of faults, joints, and sediment cover, and the types of lithologies that are present. Although individual pinnacles and ridges may not survive erosion for more than a few hundred or thousand years, erosion and the right lithologic properties can easily guarantee that new ones will form to replace features that are destroyed. Once the glaciers are gone, remaining pinnacles may be buried and preserved until they are unearthed by erosion millions of years later (e.g., Cole, 1991, p. 274).
ABSENCE OF GLACIAL MATERIALS ON PALEOTOPOGRAPHIC HIGHS
According to Oard (p. 92-93), if the Late Paleozoic glaciations of South Africa were real, ancient hills and mountains should be covered with glacial deposits. Instead, glacial deposits are often absent. Again, Oard (p. 92-93) argues from an absence of data and fails to realize that 250 million years of erosion will easily remove loose glacial sediments from ancient hills and mountains (von Brunn, 1987, p. 121). Thin mountain and continental deposits are more susceptible to erosion than thicker and more protected deposits that form in valleys or marine environments.
"IMAGINARY" SOUTHERN SOURCE FOR GLACIAL ROCKS IN THE SOUTHERN KAROO BASIN?
The southern part of the Karoo Basin contains some granites, mafic volcanics, slates and other rocks whose source areas are not readily apparent. Stone counts and other field data indicate that the rocks originated from a mountain range to the south of South Africa that is no longer there (Visser, 1987b, p. 213-214). Of course, Oard (p. 93) attacks that idea of ancient mountains that can no longer be found. Nevertheless, the existence of previous mountain ranges to the south of South Africa is entirely consistent with the topography of Late Paleozoic Gondwana. Their remnants may now be in Antarctica. Oard (p. 21, for example) simply refuses to accept the abundant evidence that South America, Africa, Antarctica, and India were once together as the Gondwana supercontinent during the Late Paleozoic (see Grunow, 1999 and other articles in v. 28, n. 1, January issue of the "Journal of African Earth Sciences").
HOW FAR CAN GLACIERS TRANSPORT ROCKS?
There is evidence that the Dwyka glaciers transported rocks over hundreds of kilometers. Oard (p. 93) claims that glacial transportation over such long distances may be a "serious" problem for geologists. Actually, YECs have more problems explaining the origins of enough "Flood" waters to swallow the entire Earths surface than geologists have explaining the transportation of rocks by glaciers over distances of hundreds of kilometers. Quaternary glaciers are known to transport rocks over vast distances too. For example, huge quartzite boulders in Alberta were transported 375 kilometers by Pleistocene glaciers (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 573). Some rocks in northern Europe were transported up to 1200 kilometers by Pleistocene glaciers (Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 576).
WHAT ROCKS ARE RELIABLE CLIMATE INDICATORS?
On p. 28, Oard cites Frakes (1979, p. 98-103) and claims that the presence of limestones, dolostones, stromatolites, evaporites, iron formations, glauconite, bauxites, phosphorites and oolites indicate deposition under "warm climatic conditions." These "warm-climate" rocks, however, may be associated with pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits. This association has raised questions among scientists. Oard simply argues that the presence of "warm-climate" rocks is evidence that the Dwyka Group and other pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits did not have a glacial origin.
As discussed earlier, limestones and dolostones can form in cool and even cold climates. Tills, loess, and other cool to cold climate Quaternary deposits may also have considerable amounts of calcite and limestone concretions (for example, Benn and Evans, 1998, p. 112; Ritter, 1978, p. 338-339).
Evaporites form in dry climates, which are often hot, but also may be cool and even cold. A map in Frakes (1979, p. 100), specifically, shows that modern evaporites are forming on the doorsteps of Siberia in Mongolia and around the Caspian Sea. Evaporites are also common around Salt Lake, Utah, and elsewhere in the western United States.
Glauconite is a green mineral that is often found in marine sandstones. The mineral is frequently associated with warm-water sandstones, but is also known to develop in cold arctic marine sediments. For example, glauconite-rich mudstones are located in the Late Cenozoic Yakataga Formation of Alaska (Armentrout, 1983, p. 635). Armentrout (1983, p. 635) further argues that these mudstones accumulated very slowly, which is something that Oard is going to explain because Oard (p.5) implies that this formation is a "Flood" deposit.
Traditionally, phosphorous-rich sedimentary rocks, called phosphorites, were only thought to form within +/- 40 degrees latitude from the equator in marine waters (Buehman et al., 1989, p. 741). Like carbonates, Oard (p. 94) and others have claimed that phosphorites should not be associated with high latitude glacial deposits. However, theres really no chemical reason to preclude phosphorites from developing in shallow cold waters. Buehman et al. (1989) discuss the association of Lower Permian phosphorites with the glacial deposits of the Great Karoo Basin of South Africa and how the phosphorites could have formed in cold shallow waters at paleolatitudes of 60 to 75 degrees south. They also note that the phosphorites are banded, which is another major difference from the more common, low latitude phosphorites.
It is truly amazing the lengths at which YECs will go to undermine the numerous cold climate indicators associated with glacial deposits, yet they will not even question that phosphorites, glauconites, carbonates or other traditional "warm climate indicators" could occasionally develop in cool to cold climates. Dogma of any kind, whether religious, political, philosophical, or "scientific," will cause people to look for ways, reasonable or not, to undermine the reliability of data that they dont like and overlook the most blatant flaws in any data that they agree with.
WARM CLIMATE FLORA AND FAUNA IN PERMIAN GLACIAL DEPOSITS?
Oard (p. 94) notes that fossils of the marine reptile, Mesosaurus, are found in rocks associated with Late Paleozoic glacial deposits. He (p. 94) questions how marine reptiles could have lived in cold waters surrounding glaciers. The usual explanation is that the mesosaurus thrived during the relatively warm interglacial periods and moved away when the glaciers regrew. This is a plausible explanation. However, fish and crabs are cold-blood, yet they survive in cold Alaskan waters. Is it possible that some marine reptiles adapted to life in cold water?
Coal and other plant remains commonly occur in the Ecca Group and locally within the Dwyka Group. Until recently, most YECs and even some scientists have been slow to realize that coal formation is not restricted to tropical peat swamps, but may also occur in cool and even cold climates. Of course, thick peat bogs currently exist in Minnesota, the Great Lakes states, Europe, Canada, Siberia and other cool to cold climate areas. If these peats become deeply buried, they could easily be transformed in lignites and other coals over time. Oard (p. 95) responds to this idea by stating that he knows of no current Pleistocene peats that have been transformed into coals. Of course, coalification requires burial, the establishment of low-oxygen and stable temperature and pressure conditions and, contrary to YEC dreams, long periods of "baking" within the Earth at temperatures of 75C and higher (North, 1990, chapter 7). Theres simply not been enough time for abundant Quaternary peats to become deeply buried and "cooked" into coals.
Although Oard identifies Late Paleozoic plants as part of a "pre-Flood tropical paradise," Seyfert and Sirkin (1979, p. 341) states that the coals of the Ecca Formation contain fossilized wood with growth rings, which indicate a mid-latitude, seasonal climate. Visser (1989) also describes the depositional environment of the Dwyka "Formation" as being subpolar rather than polar or warm. Oard (p. 95) admits by citing Charrier (1986, p. 168) and his reference Kraeusel (1961, p. 250) that the "Gondwana Flora" were not glacial, but probably grew in somewhat WARMER interglacial periods. Charrier (1986, p. 168) goes on to describe the climate of the Late Paleozoic of southern South America as being temperate to cold, based on flora fossils. In particular, Charrier (1986, p. 168) notes the presence of annual growth rings in stems of Dadoxylon sp. from central western Argentina and other Carboniferous plant genera from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Again, the information in these references is consistent with cool to subpolar interglacial periods rather than a tropical, non-seasonal "pre-Flood vapor canopy" environment that most YECs demand.
Eyles (1993, p. 110f) comments on the quality of paleomagnetic data and how they relate to pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits. Not surprisingly, Oard largely ignores the critical importance of these data. No doubt, except for the Late Precambrian results, he chooses to simply reject the data because they repeatedly provide bad news for YECism. Namely, most glacial deposits are close to their paleopoles, as expected. Specifically, paleomagnetic data indicate that the Dwyka and Ecca groups were deposited at high enough latitudes to expect glaciations (Grunow, 1999). Smith (1997, p. 177) also states:
"The Permo-Carboniferous ice sheet and paleomagnetic data are fully compatible with the Quaternary analogue and a normal dipole field without the need to consider the alpha95 errors, provided that there was an eastwards migration of the ice centres in time (reconstructed coordinates) and that the glaciclastic sediments in Arabia are not sub-glacial."
SOFT SEDIMENT FEATURES: HOW DID THEY SURVIVE THE DWYKA GLACIERS?
Like some of the Ordovician glacial deposits in North Africa, the Dwyka glaciations produced some grooves and related features in soft sediments (Visser, 1990). Oard (p. 99) cites Visser (1990, p. 242) and argues that these delicate features could not have been preserved under continental ice sheets. The ice sheets would have torn up the features or meltwaters would have erased them. Once more, Oard does not fully represent his citations. Visser (1990, p. 242) argues that such features could have formed from grounded ice in a shallow water environment. A miraculous Noah's Flood is not needed to explain these features.
DISTINGUISHING GLACIAL DEPOSITS FROM SUBMARINE MASS FLOWS
As part of his efforts to undermine the reality of pre-Pleistocene glaciers, Oard (p. 38-39) misuses a number of references to claim that glacial sediments cannot be distinguished from mass flow deposits or that recent studies indicate that more and more glacial deposits are actually "non-glacial" mass flow deposits. For example, Oard (p.38-39) cites Schermerhorn (1974, p.687) and tries to argue that tillites and mass flow deposits look a lot alike, even under a microscope. However, a careful reading of Schermerhorn (1974, p. 687-688) indicates that size analyses and other detailed testing may be able to distinguish pre-Pleistocene glacial from non-glacial deposits, as they are for Pleistocene tills. While Oard wants to see no hope in distinguishing non-glacial from glacial deposits, Schermerhorn (1974, p. 687-688) is not so pessimistic.
Oard (p. 38) also quotes Anderson et al. (1979, p. 265) and argues that mass flow deposits can be indistinguishable from tills. However, like Schermerhorn (1974, p. 687), Anderson et al. (1979) call on geologists to develop methods and look for features that can distinguish mass flow deposits from ice-rafted materials. Again, by looking at the details, glacial and non-glacial deposits may be distinguished. Granites and arkosic sedimentary conglomerates may also look very much alike until theyre studied in detail.
Oard (p. 39) accuses Frakes (1979, p. 81) of "lamenting" over the similarity between tillites and debris flows. Again on p. 66, Oard cites Frakes (1979, p. 83) and claims that mass flows can duplicate features that are considered diagnostic for glacial deposits. In reality, Frakes (1979, p. 81) is not so pessimistic or "lamenting" in misery as Oard claims. The full sentence from Frakes (1979, p. 81) follows, with the portion that Oard (p. 39) only cites in capital letters:
"THE SEPARATION OF GLACIAL FROM NON-GLACIAL DEPOSITS ON A STUDY OF MIXTITES ALONE IS SEEMINGLY AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK and the chore requires additional positive evidence of mode of origin for solution."
On p. 83, Frakes (1979) goes into some detail on how features in glacial deposits, such as ice-wedge clasts showing layering parallel to the walls or elongated sand bodies in eskers, can be used to distinguish glacial from non-glacial deposits. Frakes (1979, p. 83) states:
"In themselves, mixtites only rarely may establish that glaciation has occurred. Structures within mixtites and in strata lying above, below or intercalated with them, bear on this problem however, and may define glacial or periglacial conditions unequivocally."
Oard (p.39) cites Anderson (1983, p. 16) and claims that ancient glacial deposits are closely associated with mass flows. Because of this association, Oard sees an opportunity to transform all pre-Pleistocene glacial sediments into "non-glacial" mass flow deposits. In reality, Anderson (1983, p. 16) has an opposite view and feels that glaciomarine deposits and even basal tills are commonly expected to coexist with turbidities. The full quotation is below with the out of context section used by Oard (p. 39) in all capital letters:
"Schermerhorn  argues that diamicts associated with turbidites are most likely non-glacial deposits. This is certainly not the case in Antarctica, as glacial-marine deposits, and even basal tills, are commonly interbedded with debris flows and turbidites. IT IS NOT SURPRISING, THEREFORE, THAT MANY ANCIENT GLACIAL DEPOSITS ARE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH SLUMPS, DEBRIS FLOWS, AND TURBIDITES. The late Paleozoic glacial deposits of South America are an excellent example (Frakes and Cowell, 1969). In many cases, Antarctic turbidites are virtually devoid of lithic grains, so similar deposits would not readily lend themselves to a glacial-marine interpretation should they be encountered in an ancient sequence."
Pettijohn (1975, p. 179) is quoted by Oard (p. 39) as claiming that tillites are less common then once believed and that more and more of them are being reinterpreted as non-glacial. However, Oard (p. 39) fails to mention that Pettijohn (1975, p. 179) was referring to reinterpretations since Coleman's 1926 summary of glacial research. By not stating Pettijohn's reference to Coleman (1926), Oard (p. 39) may create a false impression that extensive reinterpretations of glacial to non-glacial deposits were still occurring in 1975 and that they still may be continuing to the present time.
Oard (p. 39) also cites Flint (1975, p. 124) and complains that poorly sorted rocks may be uncritically identified as "tillites" simply because they look like tills. Again, Oard (p. 39) is not careful with his wording and gives the false impression that the Flint (1975, p. 123-124) is guilty of this sloppy approach. In reality, Flint (1975, p. 123-124) discusses some of the 19th century research on tillites and other pre-Pleistocene deposits. While 19th century geologists may have been too rash in invoking glacial interpretations, Flint (1975, p. 124) has the right approach and strongly advocates using multiple features to identify the depositional environments of rocks.
Oard (p. 35) also emphasizes the similarities between turbidites (submarine mass flow deposits) and fluvial and fluvioglacial systems. He even claims that turbidity currents can duplicate "many, if not all" fluvial features. Oard (p. 35) then cites Einsele (1991) and Middleton (1993, p. 92, 93) to support his beliefs. When quoting Middleton (1993, p. 92, 93), Oard (p. 35) leaves out a number of intermediate sentences, although Oard manages to maintain the proper context. In general, Oard (p. 35) accurately summarizes Middleton's statements. However, after reviewing Einsele (1991), I was not able to find any statements that support Oard's claims. On the contrary, Einsele (1991, p. 324) seems to recognize that the properties of fluvial and turbidite sediments are very different:
"The driving force of the turbidity current is primarily a function of the difference in density of the suspension and the overlying water body (in contrast to river flow under air!), the submarine relief, i.e., the angle and length of slope, and the thickness of the suspension current."
According to Oard (p. 38), large debris flows are common in modern sediments, but are nearly absent in the pre-Pleistocene record. Oard (p. 38) claims that this observation somehow violates "uniformitarianism." Oard has created an invalid "no lose" situation for himself. If modern debris flows are generally larger than ancient analogs, he can attack the strawperson doctrine of Lyell uniformitarianism and claim that modern deposits are not good analogies of ancient ones. If the modern deposits happened to be generally absent or smaller than the ancient examples, Oard could always invoke Noah's Flood as the unique cause of the larger scale, ancient features. In reality, Oard is simply failing to realize that ancient deep marine debris flows would most likely be subducted or deeply buried under more marine sediments rather than obducted and preserved on continents where geologists could readily find them.
Oard (p. 35) cites Hesse and Rakofsky (1992), which describe channelized patterns on the bottom of the Labrador Sea that resemble the Mississippi River channel system. Oard indicates that similar channelized patterns from "Noahs Flood" could be confused for glacial or fluvial (river) sediments. However, Oard doesnt tell his readers that Hesse and Rakofskys channelized patterns on the Labrador shelf represent thousands of years of sediment accumulation and primarily involve deposits from nearby melting continental glaciers. Specifically, Hesse and Rakofsky (1992, p. 705) state that the deposition of the channels in the northwest Atlantic were largely dormant over the past 5,000 years and before 11,000 years ago. That is, the patterns formed between 5,000 and 11,000 years ago during the last deglaciation in Labrador.
"REUSCH'S MORAINE": MASS FLOW OR GLACIAL DEPOSIT?
Oard (p. 53, 99) describes "Reusch's Moraine" (also known as the "Bigganjarga tillite") as an example of a diamictite that was originally identified as a glacial deposit, but is now considered to be a "mass flow." The deposit is located in northern Norway and is Late Precambrian (Crowell, 1964, p. 94-96; Harland, 1964, p. 121).
According to Oard (p. 99), several researchers, including Harland et al. (1966, p. 250), believe that the grooved surface under the "moraine" formed from mass movement. However, this is not the complete story. In reality, Harland et al. (1966, p. 250) refers to the deposit as an "allochthonous till," which means that before the material became a mass flow, it was a till. Oard (p. 53) also gives the false impression that Crowell (1964, p. 95, 96) and Harland (1964, p. 121) no longer believe in any glacial association for the "moraine." These 1964 references argue that "Reuschs moraine" was finally deposited as a subaqueous mass flow. However, based on associated tillites and evidence of ice-rafting, Harland (1964, p. 121) still believes that "Reuschs moraine" was originally a glacial deposit. Specifically, he (1964, p. 121) states:
"A collection was made from this area in the summer of 1963 for mineralogical and sedimentological investigation to be reported elsewhere. It may be noted that although the striations below Reuschs tillite would appear to be the result of subaqueous sliding rather than subglacial abrasion, associated and more extensive horizons of tillites with good evidence of ice-rafting make it unnecessary to doubt a glacial origin from the clumped mass of Reuschs moraine."
Many of the other "former glacial deposits" that Oard mentions, such as the Quaternary examples from Quigley (1983) that Oard cites on p. 60 or the examples from the Gowganda Formation (Oard, p. 72; Miall, 1985, p. 763), are actually remobilized glacial deposits. That is, glacial deposits may accumulate on marine or lake shelves or on land, become unstable and flow. Once they flow, they become turbidites and other mass flow deposits.
EXTENSIVE FORMATIONS, SUCH AS THE COCONINO SANDSTONE
Oard (p. 101) discusses how some formations, such as the Coconino Sandstone of Arizona, are very extensive and supposedly resulted from the tremendous erosional and depositional effects of Noah's Flood. The sandstone covers parts of New Mexico, Texas and other states, and has an area of about 500,000 square kilometers (Oard, p. 101). Like many YECs, Oard (p. 101) apparently fails to realize that formations, like the Coconino Sandstone, may NOT have a uniform age. Formations are lithostratrigraphic units. That is, they're defined by their rock types and NOT their ages (Nations and Stump, 1996, p. 28). Therefore, one section of a formation may be thousands or even millions of years older than another section. Contrary to the YEC nonsense about panicked animals running over underwater sand dunes during the "Flood" (Austin,1994, p. 29-36), a careful review of the geology of the Coconino Sandstone clearly indicates that the sandstone formed in an ancient desert (Middleton et al., 1990, p. 192-201; Strahler, 1987, p. 217-218), which is completely incompatible with Noah's Flood.
OTHER EXAMPLES OF FORMATIONS BEING INCOMPATIBILITY WITH A YEAR-LONG WORLD-WIDE "FLOOD"
Even if some of the pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits turn out to be natural mass flows, the new interpretations will still refute YEC claims for a year-long Flood. As an example, Oard (p.5) refers to the Yakataga Formation of Alaska as NOT being part of the "post-Flood" ice age because its too thick and lithified. The formation is 5000 meters thick and is Miocene to Early Pleistocene (about 1.5 to 6 million years old) (Oard, p. 5). Most, if not all YECs, would also consider these rocks to be too fossiliferous and thick to be "pre-Flood." Oards only other alternative in the YEC narrow scheme of things is to declare the Yakataga Formation to be a "Flood deposit." Such a declaration creates numerous problems that Oard doesnt seem to realize. For example, the formation contains alternating layers of cold and warm water fossils, including right vs left curling Neogloboquadrina pachyderma s.l. (Armentrout, 1983). How did the "Flood" sort these fossils into alternating layers that so beautifully counterfeited changes in climate and often correlate with other past northern hemisphere climatic changes during the Late Cenozoic (Armentrout, 1983, p. 637-638)? The formation is over 5000 meters thick, which means that on an average more than 13 meters of sediment were deposited every day during the "Flood year"!! The situation becomes even more fantastic and unrealistic when YECs consider that bored siltstones from the inner sublittoral bivalve Zirfaea pilsbryi are found well within the deposits (Armentrout, 1983, p. 636-637). The bored siltstones indicate that the "Flood" periodically deposited thick loads of sediment, the surface sediments were somehow lithified into rocks in no more than a few months, next somehow animals had time to move in, bore into the rocks, grow and live on top of the sediments for a while and then more sediment were deposited, all within one "Flood year."
As mentioned above, some of the glacial dropstones in the Yakataga Formation are covered with the fossils of sessile organisms, such as worm tubes and barnacles (Armentrout, 1983, p. 639, 642, 645, 646, 648). How could the Flood produce environments that were quiet for enough time to allow organisms to grow on the upper surfaces of the dropstones before the next pile of sediment arrived, again, all within one year? In situ marine fossils and extensive bioturbation are also common in the glacial-marine diamictites of the upper part of the formation (Armentrout, 1983, p. 642), which means even more switching on and off of the "Flood sedimentation" and additional miracles to allow for rapid growth of these organisms. Somehow within ONE "Flood year," all 5000 meters of the Yakataga Formation formed through alternating periods of sediment deposition followed by recolonization and development of new biological communities. Scientists don't have that kind of ignorant faith! Finally in the Karr Hills, the formation lithified well enough to be folded and structurally deformed (figures in Armentrout, 1983, p. 653, 661).
Armentrout (1983, p. 635) also argues that the laminated glauconite-rich mudstones at the bottom of the formation accumulated very slowly, which further contradicts Oards hopes for rapid accumulation. Diatoms are also present in the Yakataga Formation (Armentrout, 1983, p. 637-638). In a "Flood" scenario, not only would these microscopic organisms have to miraculously settle out before the next pile of Flood sediment arrived, they would also have to somehow segregate into different biozones. In other words, somehow, the "Flood" didnt mix the Pliocene index microfossils with any of those of the Miocene or Pleistocene.
Despite his best efforts, Oard (1997) has failed to undermine the reality of pre-Pleistocene glaciations, especially the impressive and diverse evidence for the Ordovician and Permo-Carboniferous glaciers in Africa. Numerous articles, reports and books, many of which are mentioned in this report, contain overwhelming evidence for the existence of pre-Pleistocene glaciations, including: maps, outcrop descriptions, geochemical results, lithologic summaries, and impressive photographs and diagrams of glacial features, such as those in Beuf et al. (1971, especially p. 279 and following). Oard's weak efforts have done little or nothing to ruin the testimony of these documents.
SUPER MASS FLOWS FROM NOAHS FLOOD?
Finally, in chapter 12, Oard presents his case for all pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits actually being sediments from Noahs Flood. The chapter is full of wild claims with little or no support. With a countless supply of miracles, the Flood could produce mass flows, meteorite impact deposits and fault debris of any size and still keep Noah and the ark floating. While twisting the data to conform to Biblical dogma involves a lot of imagination and creativity, its not science.
Oard (p. 101, 103) cites the "fountains of the great deep" and the "floodgates of the heavens" in Genesis 7 as reality, but he never presents any definitive evidence for the existence of these fountains or the Flood. As discussed earlier in numerous examples, detailed studies of the geologic record refute rather than support a worldwide Biblical Flood. Huge catastrophic fountain deposits should have been plentiful if the Biblical Flood was real, but they have not been found. Oard (p. 102-103) also claims that massive amounts of tectonism occurred during the Flood, but he never explains how the Earths surface was kept from melting from all of the heat that would have been released by this catastrophic activity.
Supposedly, during Noahs Flood, sediments accumulated on unstable slopes and then poured out over hundreds or maybe thousands of kilometers as submarine flows to create the thick sedimentary deposits that are seen in much of the world (Oard, p. 101-102, 107). However, Oard never presents any solid evidence for the existence of the slopes. There should be some evidence for these slopes in the stratigraphy and structural geology of northern Africa, if they were real. They should be somewhere, but they cant be found. Without a shred of evidence, Oard (p. 103) simply claims that the slopes that helped to produce the pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits were somehow "farther away than expected" because of the exceptionally large size and great mobility of the supposed submarine flows. At the same time, Oard (p. 103) is unwilling to commit himself to the ridiculous idea that these "Flood landslides" could have flowed between continents. So, Oard is left with a problem with respect to North Africa. Theres no evidence of nearby slopes to produce submarine flows in the Sahara, yet he doesnt want to make ridiculous claims that the slides originated in Europe, South America or the Middle East. Oard (p. 103) speculates that somehow North Africa was far below sea level and then magically rose through some unidentified tectonic uplifting after the "Flood." Unfortunately for him, theres no stratigraphic or structural evidence that the Sahara was uplifted as a continental block in the past 4,000 years. Oard (p.21) complains that geologists reassemble South America, Africa, etc. to form Gondwana and that we postulate a now absent southern mountainous source for the some of the Dwyka sediments (p. 93). However, unlike Oards fanciful claims for bobbing continents and disappearing slopes, theres solid paleomagnetic, fossil and tectonic data to support the existence of Gondwana (Grunow, 1999 and other articles in v. 28, n. 1, January issue of the "Journal of African Earth Sciences").
Oard never explains how all these sediments were quickly weathered from igneous rocks during or in the few thousand years before the Flood. Where did clays come from? Oard (p. 105-106) also claims that a variety of mass flow materials, ranging from well-lithified debris flows to "normal" marine sedimentary strata would be expected during the "Flood." However, again, he presents no evidence to support his claims.
For believers in a literal worldwide "Flood," this catastrophe also raises moral questions about the behavior of their god. Why would such a god destroy an entire ecosystem because of the actions of one species? If god individually judges people and sends them to Heaven or Hell, why couldn't he have singled out and only struck down the evil people? Some skeptics have correctly compared the mythical Noahs Flood to burning down a house and all of its contents to get rid of a few rats.
EVALUATING THE DATA AS A WHOLE
Most individuals realize that many glacial textures and structures could under some circumstances be roughly duplicated by faults, meteorite impacts and/or mass flows. As Frakes (1979, p. 83) points out, however, careful studies can distinguish glacial deposits from similar looking non-glacial deposits. For example, superficially eskers and non-glacial stream deposits look a lot alike. However, as Frakes (1979, p. 83) states, there are ways of distinguishing them. Most individuals would argue that if you have numerous, reliable and diverse pieces of evidence for a glaciation, then there probably was a glaciation.
At the same time, Schermerhorn (1974, p. 675) reminds us that a large quantity of weak pieces of evidence for a glaciation will not add up to convincing evidence for that glaciation. That is, just finding a few striations or poorly sorted rocks does not produce conclusive evidence of a glaciation. Quality evidence, and not just quantity, is important. Fortunately, for most pre-Pleistocene glacial deposits, the evidence is convincing and adds up to an impressive argument for the reality of these glaciations. While features, such as nailhead striations, might eventually be found in deposits from meteorite impacts or tectonism, when theyre currently found in abundance in the same area with other glacial-related features, such as eskers and drumlins, the probability is very certain that the deposits are glacial. A collection of multiple, reliable glacial indicators at a site, strengthens the case of glaciation beyond a reasonable doubt.
To further undermine the data, Oard (p. 66) partially quotes Young (1976, p. 366):
"He [Schermerhorn (1974)] rightly points out that many of the so-called criteria of ancient glaciations are suspect and that many pieces of ambiguous evidence do not add up to a definitive determination of paleoenvironment."
However, Young (1976) goes on to make some important statements that Oard omits:
"However it is suggested that the following combination of characters might be considered diagnostic of a frigid regime:
1. Presence of extensive mixtites with a variety of clast types, including both extra- and intra-basinal types.
2. Presence of laminated and bedded sedimentary rocks with common occurrence of dropstones, including aggregate sediment pellets (Ovenshine, 1970).
3. Presence of many stones (including small and hard ones) that are faceted and deeply striated in several directions."
The above combination of characters is present in Middle Precambrian rocks of North America, and Schermerhorn rightly concludes that these are legitimate glacial rocks. In my opinion mixtite-bearing sequences of Late Precambrian age in North America, Scotland, and in several regions of west Africa bear equally convincing evidence of glacial activity."
Of course, Oard (p. 66-67) refuses to accept the idea that a series of diverse and uniquely or largely glacial features at a site add up to a high certainty of a past glaciation. Oard (p. 66-67) apparently does not believe in accumulating evidence to support a case, at least not until p. 95. On p. 95, Oard contradicts himself and claims that his arguments add up to an "impressive" amount of "evidence" against Late Paleozoic glaciations in South Africa.
The references in Oards paper remind us that almost every claim in geology will be disputed or interpreted differently by someone at sometime. His references also tell us that geologists must consider a variety of possibilities to explain the origins of poorly sorted rocks (diamictites), including glaciations, NATURAL mass flows, tectonism, and/or meteorite impacts. Nevertheless, the Ordovician eskers of North Africa, Late Paleozoic roches moutonnees of South Africa, and the numerous other pre-Pleistocene features mentioned in this report are too conclusive to be undermined by YEC fantasies.
Throughout his book, Oard tries to argue that non-glacial processes may counterfeit glacial processes and fool field geologists. Oard greatly exaggerates the problems to support his theology. He frequently misquotes and distorts the literature, even in the small number of cases where his overall conclusions are valid. Certainly, SOME non-glacial processes will, at least superficially, duplicate textures and structures in glacial deposits. In such cases, more careful field and laboratory studies are often able to distinguish glacial and non-glacial deposits.
Disputes and controversies are usually healthy signs of skeptical science at work. Nevertheless, Oard and other YECs are not true and healthy skeptics. They misuse and often misquote the literature to advance a religious agenda that is based on a very geologically ridiculous idea a literal Biblical Flood. Instead of using a number of different glacial and non-glacial possibilities to interpret the origins of poorly sorted sedimentary rocks, Oard and his YEC allies overemphasize the non-glacial origins and unfairly belittle any evidence that supports a glacial origin. This is not science, but the worst kind of Dark Age dogmatism.
I do not believe that Oard and most other YECs are being deliberately dishonest through their misquotations and other misuse of the literature. I think they are sincere. However, I believe that their dogmatism has so blinded them that they are habitually sloppy and incompetent.
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