Feature Article - December 2012
by Do-While Jones

Geologic Layer Names

Most layer names are based on geography, not chronology.

Evolutionists sometimes claim that the fossil record proves evolution is true. In particular, one evolutionist told me the fact that primate [ape-like] fossils are not found in Devonian layers proves that apes had not evolved yet. He claimed that all it would take to disprove evolution is to find a primate skeleton in a Devonian layer.

He is wrong for two reasons. First, if anyone did find a fossilized ape in a Devonian layer, evolutionists would claim it was planted there by a creationist, and it would be ignored. (Or, they would say that it could not be a Devonian layer because there was a primate fossil in it.)

Second, creationists would not expect an ape to be found in a Devonian layer because the characteristics of rock layers are determined by geography, not time. Finding an ape in Devonian strata would be just as troubling for a creationist as it would be for an evolutionist; but letís not get ahead of ourselves.

Geologic Strata

Rocks are generally found in strata (that is, layers which have a distinctive characteristic). The distinctive characteristic of a layer might be the kind of minerals found in it, or the kind of fossils found in it, or something else. Regardless, there is something unique about the layer that geologists recognize and think is significant.

Geologists, like biologists, like to classify similar things by giving a name to a group of similar things. This makes it easier to study the rocks, and talk to other geologists about the rocks.

What most people tend to forget is that the name of the layer is generally determined by the place where the layer was first studied. It is important to understand why people tend to forget this; but it is too soon to tell you that now.

The Devonian Layer

Since this article began with a claim about the Devonian layer, letís start with that one.

It is named after Devon, England, where rocks from this period were first studied. 1

There are lots of fish fossils in this layer, but no primate fossils, as evolutionists love to point out. Why is this? Is it because primates did not exist anywhere in the world when the Devonian rocks were formed? Or was it because apes donít live where fish live?

To find fossils of extinct primates, paleontologists go to Tanzania or Kenya; but they donít find fish fossils there. Is that because fish did not exist when Homo habilis or Australopithecus Afarensis lived? Or is it because fish donít live on dry land where Homo habilis or Australopithecus Afarensis lived?

Fossils are formed when things get buried rapidly by a landslide, sandstorm, tsunami, flood, or any other disaster that might bury things. The things that get buried are the things that happened to be at the place that got buried.

On rare occasions, things get buried out of place. Someone might have caught a fish and brought it back to camp just before a rockslide buried the camp, causing a fish fossil to be found mysteriously out of place. But thatís a rare anomaly. Fossil-bearing strata overwhelmingly tend to contain fossils associated with a particular habitat. In fact, thatís how paleontologists determine what the habitat was like.

Geographic Names

There are a few exceptions, but, generally speaking, strata have geographic names. For example,

The Jurassic is named after the Jura Mountains within the European Alps, where limestone strata from the period was first identified. 2

The Mississippian is so named because rocks with this age are exposed in the Mississippi River valley. 3

The Pennsylvanian is named after the American state of Pennsylvania, where rocks with this age are widespread. 4

Notice that each layer is associated with an age. Why is that? Mississippian rocks are supposedly older than Pennsylvanian rocks; but Pennsylvania was a state before Mississippi was. Chronologically, the two names make no sense. Thatís because the names are based on geography, not time.

Age Assumptions

Dates have been assigned to these layers based on the assumptions of (1) evolution and (2) the old Earth model. The ages of the layers donít prove evolutionóthey are simply the result of an a priori belief in the sequence of evolution and how long it took various things to evolve.

The Jurassic layer consists of limestone, not lava. Should we assume that volcanoes had not evolved (or had gone extinct) during the ďJurassic period?Ē Of course not! Thatís so silly you probably think I am stupid for even suggesting it. But wait! Think about it. Why would it be dumb to suggest that volcanoes did not exist during the Jurassic period? Thatís not just a rhetorical question. The answer explains why it is dumb to think that certain creatures did (or did not) exist when the rock layer was formed.

It would be dumb to suggest volcanoes did not exist during the ďJurassic periodĒ because nobody believes that rocks evolved and went extinct at various times in Earthís history. We know that the reason some layers are granite, some are sandstone, some are limestone, and some are lava, has nothing to do with timeóit has to do with geography. It is as simple as that.

The reason why some layers have lots of fish fossils, and others have fossils of dinosaurs or mammals or birds, has nothing to do with timeóit has to do with geography (and the habitat associated with that geography).

The Geologic Column

The assumption that the layers represent periods of time has led to the creation of the mythical geologic column. Students have been led to believe that everywhere on Earth the rock layers are neatly stacked upon each other in chronological orderóbut thatís not true. Geologists donít go to one spot where all the layers exist and drill down to the depth associated with the age they are studying because that one spot doesnít exist.

Yes, there are some places where there are several thick rock layers lying on top of each otheróbut they pose more questions for evolutionary geologists than they answer (if the evolutionary geologists dare to think about them). These thick layers look like they were formed rapidly, not like they were formed gradually over millions of years.

Grand Canyon Coal Mines

One of the places where many rock layers are exposed is the Grand Canyon. At the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you find the oldest rocks, the Unkar Group.

The oldest section of the supergroup is the Unkar Group. It was laid down in an offshore environment. The first formation to be laid down in the Unkar Group was the Bass Limestone. A wave-eroded gravel that later lithified into a basal conglomerate is known as the Hotauta Member of the Bass Limestone. The Bass Limestone was deposited in a shallow sea near the coast as a mix of limestone, sandstone, and shale. It is 120 to 340 feet (37 to 100 m) thick and grayish in color. Averaging 1250 million years old, this is the oldest layer exposed in the Grand Canyon that contains fossilsóstromatolites. 5

As you hike down the trail from the South Rim to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you take a journey through time from the present to 1250 million years ago (according to the park rangers). In your journey through time, you pass through the Carboniferous period, roughly 300 million years ago.

The Carboniferous is a geologic period and system that extends from the end of the Devonian Period, about 359.2 Ī 2.5 Ma (million years ago), to the beginning of the Permian Period, about 299.0 Ī 0.8 Ma (ICS, 2004). The name Carboniferous means "coal-bearing" and derives from the Latin words carbo (coal) and ferre (to carry), and was coined by geologists William Conybeare and William Phillips in 1822. 6

These thick black layers are where the Grand Canyon coal mines are.

What? You never noticed the massive coal mines that spoil the beauty of the Grand Canyon? The environmentalists must have done a very good job of keeping them hidden from you!

Seriously, there are no Carboniferous layers in the Grand Canyon. Is that because Arizona fell through some sort of time warp and didnít exist 300 million years ago? Or was it because the trees in the vast tropical rainforest of the Arizona desert never existed, and therefore werenít turned into coal.

According to Wikipedia,

Vast swathes of forest covered the land, which would eventually be laid down and become the coal beds characteristic of the Carboniferous system. A minor marine and terrestrial extinction event occurred in the middle of the period, caused by a change in climate. The latter half of the period experienced glaciations, low sea level, and mountain building as the continents collided to form Pangaea. 7

From time to time there have been places where ďvast swathes of forest covered the land, which would eventually be laid down and become the coal beds,Ē but there was no time period where forests covered the entire planet. Thatís why you donít find coal everywhere.

The Carboniferous is often treated in North America as two geological periods, the earlier Mississippian and the later Pennsylvanian. 8

Thatís not because ďA minor marine and terrestrial extinction event occurred in the middle of the period, caused by a change in climate.Ē Itís because the forests in Pennsylvania were slightly different from the forests along the Mississippi River, which resulted in slightly different kinds of coal beds in those locations.

The Great Misunderstanding

It is very simple. The kinds of plants and animals present when the rocks were formed depends on geography (that is, ecological zone), not time. Thatís why most have geographic names. But evolutionists have thoroughly indoctrinated generations of students to believe that rock layers are associated with time, not places.

Any kind of catastrophe that would cause rapid burial of a large area today (flood, rock slide, avalanche, sandstorm, volcanic eruption, et cetera) could produce a rock layer containing fossils. Those fossils would depend entirely upon what kinds of plants and animals were in that geographic location at the time of the disaster. The absences of some fossils in that newly created rock layer would not prove that certain species currently alive in other parts of the world had not yet evolved. Nor would it prove species currently alive in other parts of the world today had gone extinct.

The past is no different from the present. The fossils found in rocks are fossils of things that lived there.

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1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devonian
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippian
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvanian
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_the_Grand_Canyon_area
6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carboniferous
7 ibid.
8 ibid.