In Part 1 of this post (See Radioisotope Dating and Long Ages: Part 1), I discussed several points and possible inconsistencies with radioisotope dating and long ages. Several specific dating methods and examples of methods and experiments using these methods were addressed. This post will focus more on “objective” data seen in many land-forms across the world. There are many examples of erosion surfaces and other structures and features across the globe that date to be millions of years old, yet have remained unchanged regardless of erosional process.
To discuss this, we first need to explore how erosion and weathering takes place and what results due to these processes. There are several different types of weathering including mechanical, chemical, and biological means. Mechanical weathering involves the breaking and rounding of larger rocks into smaller pieces. This can occur in many different ways such as rocks colliding with each other at the bottom of a stream. Another way this process can occur is through freeze-thaw processes where water freezes in cracks within the rocks causing ice to form, causing tension and expanding cracks. Chemical weathering can involve processes such as minerals in rocks altering as they react with water and air. Biological weathering involves organisms such as tree roots or burrowing animals breaking up and exposing rock surfaces. In most of these situations, the key feature that results in weathering or erosion is water. Water, either in the form of precipitation or large bodies of water, is the main factor for erosion. Rain and freeze-thaw wear down mountains, racing streams dig into flat surfaces and steep cliffs, and waves lap at cliffs. All of it is powered by the water cycle.
River downcutting horizontal strata. (Wikipedia.org)
All over the planet, large-scale, flat areas such as plateaus and planation surfaces can be seen. (I have discussed planation surfaces in some detail before in a couple of posts. I apologize for any overlap, but their origin is very important to Earth’s geology). In fact, “plateaus occur on every continent and take up a third of the Earth’s land.” Many explanations have been given to how these large surfaces have formed, however, we do not see them being formed today (see A Flood of Truth?). Instead of erosion continuously planing rock flat, plateaus and planations are dissected and destroyed (A simple search of “Flat mountains” into a search engine will produce many different examples: Flattop Mountain, Gypsum Mountains, Beartooth Mountains, Grand Mesa, etc.).
(By Photographed by Jeff Johnson. – Originally uploaded to the German Wikipedia under the GFDL., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=583719)
Deep within South America, the vast tepui plateau rises out of the forests of trees. Almost constant, daily rain bathes the mountain creating beautiful waterfalls that send roaring cascades of water flowing down the sides of the flat mountains. One of the largest of the tepui mountains is Mount Roraima. The flat mountain is over 9000 feet in elevation and is surrounded by many other towering cliffs and lush vegetation. The flat landscape is home to many unique ecosystems and organisms.
According to radiometric dating, Mount Roraima, along with the other tepuis of this area, have been estimated to be upwards of two-billion years old. This would make the rocks that make up this landform some of the oldest rocks that we have access to. This landform is made up of the Roraima Formation and is a part of the Guyana Shield, which covers vast areas of South America extending into several countries including Brazil and Venezuela. Many of the layers of Mount Roraima are of sandstone while it is capped with a “quartzitic” (metamorphozed sandstone) rock, most likely formed from hot, intrusive igneous rocks contacting the sandstone. Even though these rocks are considered to be two-billion years old, Mount Roraima has been estimated to have been uplifted to its position some 70 million years ago during the cretaceous period.
Most explanations would state that Mount Roraima and its fellow Tepuis have been slowly planed flat by erosion. However, do we actually see that happening today? Instead of planing, we see sink holes, rivers cutting gouges and valleys into the rock, waterfalls eroding the walls, etc. Chemical erosion processes are extensive in this region. Lush vegetation provides abundant amounts of carbon dioxide which then forms carbonic acid when it comes in contact with rain water. As the water seeps into fractures, cracks, and joints in rock, it can more easily erode minerals and break up rocks. Also, many organic acids enter the environment as organisms die, further adding to chemical erosion. Almost constant rainfall and the running water of streams and falls mechanically break up and transport rock and sediment. Tree roots and other organisms stir and break up rocks as well. One estimate of the erosion rates that I found for this area was 10 mm per year. These rates were described as “extremely slow.” I did some simple math with just 1mm (1/10th of the measured amount) of erosion per year:(1 mm = .001 m).
.001m * 1,000,000 years = 1km
.001m * 10,000,000 yrs = 10,000km
1km = apx. 3,300 ft
With just a few simple calculations, at the measured erosion rate (yes, erosion rates can change. I’m just using the measured amount), Mount Roraima would be Eroded to nothing in just a few million years. Now, the factor of continued uplift and past uplift should be considered, however, if the rate of erosion remained constant, even 35 millions years (half of the time Roraima has been considered to have been uplifted) would have resulted in 35,000km of erosion. That amount is outrageous.
(Beartooth Mountains. Photo taken by Michael Oard)
Within the beautiful landscapes of Montana lie the Beartooth Mountains. Some of the mountain peaks reach up past 12,000 feat. These mountains are formed out of many different types of rocks including igneous (coming from magma or lava), metamorphic (altered by heat and pressure, often due to tectonics), and sedimentary (made up of sediment from other rocks). The rocks that make up the Beartooth Mountains are thought to be from the Precambrian time and some of the oldest rocks in the world dating back to around 4 billion years. These rocks underwent pressure, heat, deposition of large amounts of sedimentary material by shallow seas, and intrusions of other rocks before they were finally “rapidly uplifted” about 60 million years ago. During, and since this uplift, the mountains have experienced great erosion, removing much of the sedimentary rocks that had been deposited (laid down) earlier. In fact, most of the layers that were deposited during the time when the area was covered by a shallow sea have been completely eroded away.
Beartooth Butte, a steep, flat-topped pillar of rock, is “evidence that there once were sedimentary rocks on top of the Beartooth Mountains.” Once again, we have a mountain that has a flat top. The theory of a shallow ocean in the past might provide a suitable environment to deposit the horizontal layers of sedimentary rocks that now cap the butte. However, as with the situation with Mount Roraima, normal erosion processes (rain, snow, rivers, mechanical and chemical erosion, etc.) can’t be used to explain the landform’s continued relative flatness. Erosion dissects and gouges, destroying flat surfaces. It also won’t erode surfaces evenly, especially not over large areas. The only time we see flat, peneplain (almost flat) or planation surfaces is during large river flood events. Even these features are relatively small and won’t be preserved unless more sediment is rapidly deposited atop them.
(Side Note: Glaciers have definitely flattened vast areas of the Earth in the past. However, calling upon glacial activity for any and all of these flat surfaces would not make sense. Glaciers leave other evidences and cause other erosion processes. They create moraines [large hills and mounds of eroded material], kettle lakes, eskers, grooved surfaces, etc. Many of the areas where these flat mountains are located have not been thought to have been glaciated).
The Great Unconformity
Beartooth Butte also shows us a feature that can be seen across North America and even thought to have been observed on other continents. Between the layers of the butte we can find what is called the Great Unconformity. (An unconformity is a where a break in geologic time has been thought to take place where erosion is the dominate process instead of deposition. Sediment will again start to be deposited at a later date. So, there is time missing between rock layers due to the amount of time where rock was being removed instead of laid down.) This unconformity can most easily be seen in the layers of the Grand Canyon. In some areas, hundreds of millions of years have supposedly occurred between layers. This unconformity is rather flat in many areas as well.
Upon researching for the cause of the mass amount of erosion that lasted hundreds of millions of years to form such a feature, I found very little. The only theory that doesn’t merely use the vague explanation of just “erosion” over millions of years involves a period of time where a shallow ocean advanced and retreated over the area. Rocks would react with air and water to cause weathering and erosion. After this period ended, the ocean advanced one last time and remained over the continent, allowing millions of years of sedimentary rocks to be deposited. The problem with this explanation is ff sedimentary rocks were deposited during the final advance, why weren’t sedimentary rocks being deposited during the repeated advances and retreats over millions of years? Why was erosion the only process occurring? Instead of just constant erosion, a shallow ocean would most likely provide an environment for sands, silt, muds, or oozes to be deposited.
As I said before, the other explanations I found merely call upon erosion over millions of years “wearing down the landscape down to a near level plain.” Once again, we do not see erosion forming level plains, peneplains, or planation surfaces. Flat surfaces are not seen today forming, especially not over such a vast area that we see the Great Unconformity cover.
Why are they still here?
A question of uniformitarianism and long ages should be asked: Why are there flat surfaces/landforms and why have they been preserved, especially when found at high elevations? If we cannot see such landforms and surfaces being formed by erosion processes today, we cannot invoke such processes as an explanation. We especially can’t call upon erosion as a preservation method! Erosion dissects, and denudes in a non-uniform fashion with a variety of different mechanisms chemically, biologically and mechanically. Landforms and surfaces such as the ones discussed in this post should not be here today if they are indeed as old as dating methods say they are.
Regardless how accurate modern science holds radiometric dating to be, it seems obvious that it is incorrect at least to some degree. Flat surfaces atop mountains should have long ago been removed over the supposed millions of years of their existence. This should stand to be a challenge to the accuracy of modern dating methods.
What other explanation is there? One thought is obvious: Such surfaces and landforms are not as old as dating methods state they are. They are young. Therefore, not enough time has occurred for these “fragile” structures to have been removed by erosion. What about their formation? Not only the astounding flatness of planed surfaces covering vast distances, but also the thick layers of sedimentary rock that often accompany them, seem to provide evidence for a watery environment. Indeed, even modern science claims that a shallow sea must be called upon to explain the thick layers of sediment immediately following the Great Unconformity. However, this watery environment would need to have great force and volume to plane vast areas and distances flat. (Especially since these planed surfaces often evenly cut through tilted layers of both resistant and “softer” rock. If slow erosion were to have occurred, the tilted, resistant rock should have been left behind while the soft rock should have been removed.)
(Credit: Diagrams by Peter Klevberg and Daniel Lewis. CMI Creation.com)
We see an example at where this fact has been accepted in modern science with the discovery of the Lake Missoula Flood during the Ice Age. Billions of gallons of water broke through an ice dam and rushed across north-west United States. The water moved at great speeds and planed flat what we now call Dry Falls (See image).
(Dry Falls, Washington. Credit: Photo by Steven Pavlov. Wikipedia.com)
The Biblical Flood Model provides mechanisms for mass erosion, deposition of sedimentary layers over vast distance, and formation of plantation surfaces across the globe. A young age (about 4500 years old) of formation of these features and landforms also explains why they haven’t been removed by erosion.