A Review of a Creationist Interpretation of Placer Gold
Paul Blake and Roger Scott
This review will be discussing an attempt by creationists to interpret placers within the geological record. It will cover both Lalomov and Tabolitch's 1997 paper in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal as well as Lalomov's attempted response to the Article "Creation Science in Russia". When both Lalomov & Tabolitch are mentioned below the reference is to the original paper. When only Lalomov is mentioned, the reference is to the supposed rebuttal of the article Creation Science in Russia.
This critique will also be using data from Bache (1987) and Patik-Kara (2002) since these were two of the mainstream scientific sources that Lalomov & Tabolitch acquired much of the scientific data that supposedly demonstrated how well placer deposits fitted their model of Noah's Flood. Also, data will be taken from Boyle (1987) since Bache mentions that Boyle is a comprehensive authority on gold mineralisation.
Lalomov and Tabolitch's paper, when distilled, says that there are two concentrations of gold placers in Earth's geological history, in the Precambrian and in the Cainozoic. In standard geological models the Precambrian runs from about 570 to 4550 million years ago and the Cainozoic runs from the Present to 65 million years ago. In their model they interpret the Precambrian placer deposits to have formed between the creation of the world 4004 BCE and the Flood (2300 BCE) (known amongst some creationists as the New World Era) and the Cainozoic placer gold deposits to have formed during the waning phase of Noah's Flood. The absence of gold placers between these two times is taken to indicate that the conditions were not conducive for placers. They believe that any placers that may have formed early in Noah's Flood would have been re-eroded and redeposited later in the Flood.
In Lalomov's own words:
Roger Scott chose to ignore (or simply did not notice) our main argument for a worldwide catastrophe the absence of gold placers in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments that occupy about 60% of the Earth's surface...
Inconsistent use of data
The first thing that is noticed about Lalomov and Tabolitch's paper is that they attempt to exaggerate the number of Precambrian gold placers. In their paper they list five deposits, the Witwatersrand Supergroup in South Africa, Tarkwa in Ghana, Jacobina in Brazil and Elliot Lake and Blind River in Canada.
Reading Bache (1987) it was found that the Witwatersrand was indeed a very large gold deposit and is responsible for a large proportion of the world's gold (about 50%) and it will be discussed more below. However, for the rest the following was noted:
a) The Tarkwa is economical for gold but is much smaller than the Witwatersrand (less than 1% its size).
b) The Jacobina is considered to be of little economic significance.
c) The Elliot Lake and Blind River possess only low, variable gold content.
Therefore, Lalomov and Tabolitch think that it is acceptable to mention Precambrian placers that are not worth mining for gold when they want to inflate how common placers are in the Precambrian, but when it comes to the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic they restrict the discussion to the amounts of gold extracted and point out that they produce only 1% of placer gold.
By mentioning every significant, thought not necessarily economical, placer deposit in the Precambrian while focussing only on the amount of placer gold extracted from the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, Lalomov and Tabolitch are deceptively stacking the results in their favour.
In an attempt to make himself appear more respectable Lalomov quotes the paper on placers by Patik-Kara (2002). Lalomov quotes this paper to claim that:
The Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, for example, should contain two (at least) epochs of generation of gold placers...
We assume that Lalomov gets this from the following passage in Patik-Kara:
One can recognize at least five placer-forming megaepochs that incorporate all currently known economic placers and significant perspective objects - Lower Proterozoic, Upper Proterozoic, second half of the Paleozoic, second half of the Cretaceous, and the entire Cenozoic (incomplete megaepoch).
However, notice that Lalomov has inserted the word "gold" into the above statement. The statement by Patik-Kara was on all kinds of placer deposits. Lalomov has deceptively changed what Patik-Kara was talking about. This is known as misrepresentation and is considered extremely unprofessional amongst real scientist, but is the bread and butter of Creation "Scientists".
Since Lalomov is misrepresenting Patik-Kara's work, let us see what was actually written about placer deposits:
The second half of the Palaeozoic includes significant objects such as the Lower Carboniferous Tomtor (rare metals), Devonian Timan (gold, titanium, diamond, and others), Dveik Group of the Karru association (Ti-Zr assemblages), and many other placers.
We also find:
Many placer deposits (except amber and mammoth tusks) are found at all stages of Earth's Evolution and are typical of megaepochs.
Patik-Kara indicates that Palaeozoic placers and placers in all time periods are common. They are not absent in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic as Lalomov asserts. The Devonian placer mentioned above even contains gold but Lalomov and Tabolitch ignore this in their attempt to push their Creation "Science".
This is not a trivial observation since Lalomov focuses on the distribution of placers in his response to the original criticism written by Scott. Lalomov writes:
The other model (modern evolutionary geology) proposes that all sedimentary strata were formed slowly during billions of years, many being deposited during numerous local and moderate catastrophes. This model postulates five or six main megaepochs of placer formation that roughly correspond to periods of tectonic and magmatic activity with mountain-building processes (orogenic cycles). Thus, placers might be expected to occur frequently and uniformly within the lithostratigraphic column....
As we can see from Patik-Kara above, placers are found at all stages of Earth's evolution. Therefore, the modern evolutionary geological model fits the evidence much better than that proposed by the Creationists Lalomov and Tabolitch.
Inconsistent even within their own "Model"
In Lalomov and Tabolitch's paper they initially state:
According to the Bible's record of Earth's history there were two periods most suitable for placer generation. Both periods were characterised by a stage of steady decreasing of hydrodynamic energy. The first one followed the third day of creation, and the second one was in the waning stage of the Genesis Flood...
So, in one part of their paper they claim that the second period of placer development (the Cainozoic ones) was formed during the waning stages of the Flood.
Later they say:
We also propose that the younger period of placer concentration in the Cainozoic is related to decreasing hydrodynamic activity after the Flood. Our mathematical modelling of placer generation shows that the process could have begun about 4,000 years ago. Hence, it is proposed that the Flood/ Post-Flood boundary is located between the uniformitarian Upper Cretaceous to Paleocene strata.
So, in the second passage they want the Cainozoic deposits to be after the flood. They even want to put the boundary between the Flood and Post-Flood at the end of the Mesozoic since the Paleocene occurs directly after the Mesozoic, thus ensuring that the Cainozoic placer deposits must be considered Post-Flood.
What do Lalomov and Tabolitch want them to be? The waning phase of the Flood, or Post-Flood?
As mentioned above, the Witwatersrand Supergroup is a Precambrian gold deposit of immense proportions. It is responsible for about 50% of all gold mined on Earth and is responsible for over 99% of all the Precambrian placer gold that has ever been extracted. It is very important to Lalomov and Tabolitch's model. If it was to be removed from the discussion, the peak in Precambrian placer gold illustrated in Lalomov and Tabolitch would disappear. However, when we read Bache (1987) we found the following:
The gold occurs in irregular particles varying from 0.005 to 0.5 mm in size. There are various shapes: compact grains with the remains of crystals, irregular flat grains and porous grains. These shapes are not characteristic of detrital particles, and the close relationship between gold and uraninite in the fine beds of the reefs leads to the conclusion that the gold has moved somewhat during the slight metamorphism.
Lalomov and Tabolitch must have read this since they quote Bache.
The fact that the gold values in the Witwatersrand are not primary placer deposits has been known since the start of the 20th Century as shown by the literature in Boyle (1987). Evidence proving that the gold is not primary placer included such elementary observations as:
1) The gold as it is now found is not in the form of nuggets or dust; on the contrary, it is similar in its various forms and aspects to epigenetic* gold. The silver content is also high, a feature that is not generally found in placer deposits.
2) Much of the gold is not at the base of the conglomerate beds as is normal in placers; rather, the gold is commonly scattered throughout the blankets; some is even at the top of the blankets.
* The word "epigenetic" is used by geologists to indicate that a mineral deposit formed more recently than the enclosing rocks. In the case of placers this means that the gold is not present as detrital grains, the gold crystallised within the conglomerates from a mineralising fluid.
Also in Boyle, we find a reproduction of a paper that says:
.the gold went again into solution; and, finally, the mineralizing fluids were actively circulated and the gold was redistributed, concentrated, and reprecipitated in such a way as to produce a field containing the precious metal distributed in a workable form to the extent known to-day on the Rand.
The Witwatersrand deposits have been metamorphosed (put under elevated levels of temperature and pressure) and this has made the gold redissolve. It has then been reprecipitated and concentrated in the conglomerates of the Witwatersrand Basin.
Given the obviously non-detrital nature of the gold in the Witwatersrand there is an argument amongst geologists on how it got there. Some insist that all the gold came from mineralising fluids that were sourced from volcanics and that none of the gold was ever placer in origin. Most insist that the gold was originally placer in origin and that metamorphism has redissolved and reprecipitated the gold into economical deposits.
The only other economically interesting Precambrian gold placer, the Tarkwa, has also been metamorphosed.
It appears that the only economical Precambrian gold placers are those which have been remobilised and concentrated by metamorphism.
What makes an economic placer deposit?
What makes an economic placer deposit?
Despite Lalomov's smokescreen about 19th Century gold prospectors and having to drill 100 m to find early Cainozoic placers, the original criticism of Lalomov and Tabolitch's abstract by Scott is still correct. Cainozoic sediments are usually associated with the modern river systems and prospective areas are easily located by studying the geography of an area. The reason that Cainozoic placers are such lucrative targets for gold extraction is that they are relatively easy to locate and cheap to mine since they are usually unconsolidated or poorly consolidated. They are usually too young to have been lithified or deformed to any great extent. You may have to drill to find the channels with the payable gold in them, but it is relatively easy to trace an old channel across a flat plain.
The Palaeozoic placers on the other hand have been around long enough for the sediments to be lithified into solid rock and they have usually been folded to some degree. The solid rock makes extraction difficult, and as Scott mentioned in the original critique of Lalomov and Tabolitch's abstract, it would be difficult to follow a gold-bearing channel through a mountain, particularly when the strike of the beds are continually changing due to folding. Also, drilling through solid rock is much more expensive than it would be to drill on poorly consolidated Cainozoic sediments. It is more difficult to find placers in Palaeozoic and Mesozoic rocks that are rich enough in gold to make the mining worthwhile. However, many have been mined in the past, examples from Queensland (Australia) include Miclere mine near Clermont which worked a Permian placer (Withnall and others, 1995), the Mount Victoria mine which worked a Jurassic placer near Mount Morgan (Morwood, 2002), and many of the mines in Jurassic placers around the famous Palmer River Goldfield, e.g. the Star of the East, Independent and Grun's mines (Denaro and others, 1994).
It is interesting that some of the Cainozoic placer deposits that were mined in the Palmer River area were formed by eroding the gold out of the Mesozoic placers (Lam & others, 1991). It also should be noted that, like the Witwatersrand, there is scientific debate about the Miclere gold mineralisation. Some claim that it is a placer whereas others interpret it as epigenetic or a remobilised placer.
The Precambrian rocks have the same problems as the Palaeozoic rocks when it comes to tracing the placer deposits. You have to trace them through solid, folded rocks. However, the Precambrian placers that are economical for mining have been metamorphosed, and it appears that the gold has been remobilised and concentrated in such a way as to make it worth the effort. Therefore, it seems that it is their long geological history and reconcentration that have made these deposits economical.
Convergence of knowledge
Scientists often quote each other since they find that their work corroborates or adds to the work of another. One of the main strengths of science is that separate workers can often find different evidence that supports one another. Therefore, it is not too surprising that creationists imitate this and quote each other to make it appear that their individual works are somehow starting to make a unifying whole. However, it seems that they do not read each other's work or do not understand it.
For example, Lalomov and Tabolitch quote Dr Tasman Walker's Flood model to get some criteria for the Lost World Era (between the Creation and Flood events) and Noah's Flood. They then write the following:
Therefore, we think it likely that the gold mentioned in Genesis 2:10-12 represents the Precambrian gold placers, and that there are pre-Flood deposits.
However, they have not applied Dr Walker's criteria accurately or consistently. When you look at information on the Witwatersrand Basin you find that it contains approximately 600,000 km3 of rock. This means that the basin and the placers contained in it fit into Dr Walker's "continental scale features", not the "local scale geological features" (<10 km2) that Lalomov and Tabolitch want it to be. Since the Witwatersrand Basin is a continental feature it can only have formed during the Creation or Flood Event according to Dr Walker's model. The Witwatersrand Basin also contains large volumes of lavas and tuffs (explosive volcanics) which exclude the Creation Event according to Dr Walker's model, leaving the Flood by default. Therefore, using Dr Walker's model the Witwatersrand Basin cannot be considered Old World Era rocks despite how Lalomov and Tabolitch would like to interpret them. If they want to label them as Old World Era rocks then they need to discard Dr Walker's model and create their own. This model would of course disagree with Dr Walker's model. It is revealing that creationist geologists cannot agree on the location within the geological column of such a recent, world-altering event as the Noachian Flood is claimed to be. If the Flood occurred, the evidence should be unambiguous, clear and compelling.
It appears that the Creation "Scientists" of today still have a long way to go before they ever come up with a comprehensive theory that explains the world around us. One doubts that they ever will. They only exist to oppose science that contradicts their religious beliefs. This contrasts mightily with the genuine scientists of the 19th Century, many of them creationists. They brooded over just such issues as we have considered above. These deliberations caused their contemporaries to reject the arguments of modern day creationists such as Lalomov and Tabolitch. In the 19th Century, hypotheses changed as the evidence was gathered. Their science was characterised with an integrity not noticeable in modern creationism.
If you want to see Dr Tasman Walker's Flood model and it's criteria then you can find them on his web page. A critique written on Dr Walker's model and why it does not work can be found in Dr Tasman Walker's Flood Geology Model.
The claims by Lalomov and Tabolitch that gold placers are confined to just two intervals within Earth history, in the Precambrian and in the Cainozoic, are invalid. We have shown that Palaeozoic and Mesozoic placers are known. We have shown that Lalomov and Tabolitch are very selective in their use of data. Their conclusion that the temporal distribution of placers fits their Bible-based hypothesis and not a Uniformitarian or Actualism model collapses as a result.
Lalomov finishes his reply to Scott with the usual creationist whine about how they can not get published in mainstream peer-reviewed scientific journals because their conclusions would undermine the foundations of the prevailing evolutionary doctrine. However, as we can see above, Lalomov and Tabolitch seriously misrepresent the mainstream publications they quote from. Such misrepresentation of printed material alone would be enough to have their paper rejected by peer-review. Of course, such misrepresentation does not matter to creationists, who will publish any paper disguised as science that appears to support their religious dogma.
Their work is essentially unscientific. They are striving to fit evidence to a preconceived hypothesis which lacks scientific credibility. Without the misrepresentation of published data it quickly becomes obvious that the evidence does not support Lalomov and Tabolitch's model, but does support the Uniformitarian and Actualism models of the Earth's geology. Therefore, Lalomov and Tabolitch's paper would never be published in a scientific journal since it does not fit the evidence.
BACHE, J.J., 1987: World Gold Deposits: A Geological Classification. London: North Oxford Academic Publishers Ltd.
BLAKE, P., 2000: Flawed model for "flood geology". The Skeptic volume 20, No. 2, p. 16-19.
BOYLE, R.W., 1987: Gold. History and Genesis of Deposits. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. New York.
DENARO, T.J., CULPEPER, L.G., MORWOOD, D.A., & BURROWS, P.E., 1994: Mineral occurrences - Laura 1:100 000 Sheet area, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Department of Minerals and Energy Record 1994/14.
LALOMOV, A.V. & TABOLITCH, S.E., 1997: Gold Placers in Earth History. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, (Australia) volume 11 (part3), pp.330-334)
LAM, J.S., DENARO, T.J., BURROWS, P.E., & GARRAD, P.D., 1991: A summary of the mineral occurrences of the Maytown 1:100 000 Sheet area (7765), north Queensland. Queensland Resource Industries Record, 1991/10.
MORWOOD, D.A., 2002: Mineral occurrences - Mount Morgan 1:100 000 Sheet area: Queensland Geological Record 2002/3.
PATIK-KARA, N.G., 2002: Placers in the system of sedimentogenesis. Lithology and Mineral Resources, Vol.37, No.5, pp. 429-441.
WITHNALL, I.W., BLAKE, P.R., CROUCH, S.B.S, TENISON WOODS, K., GRIMES, K.G., HAYWARD, M.A., LAM, J.S., GARRAD, P. & REES, I.D., 1995: Geology of the southern part of the Anakie Inlier, central Queensland, Queensland Geology, 7.