How to recognize pre-Flood, Flood and post-Flood rocks

John H. Whitmore,

Whitmore, J.H., and P.A. Garner. 2008. Using suites of criteria to recognize pre-Flood, Flood, and post-Flood strata in the rock record with application to Wyoming (USA). In A.A. Snelling (editor), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism, pp. 425-448. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship; Dallas, Texas: Institute for Creation Research.

If I recall correctly, I think Paul Garner and I began talking about this project together in June of 2006 when the Biology Study Group met at Cedarville University. I finished my Ph.D. in 2003, researching the taphonomy of the fossil fish in the Green River Formation of Wyoming, and had just completed a series of articles in the Journal of Creation defending the post-Flood status of the Green River Formation. The reason that I wanted Paul as a co-author on this paper was that he had held various perspectives on the Flood/post-Flood boundary in Europe (Paul lives in England) and I felt that he could better identify scientific reasons for placing Flood boundaries at various horizons in different areas of the world.

When writing this paper, we wanted to generate a whole set of criteria that could be used when identifying Flood boundaries at any location on earth. We purposely did not use index fossils or geological “ages” in deciding on a boundary. The method we developed depends on a whole “suite of criteria,” not a single criterion (like a stratigraphically thick deposit, or a deposit that appears to have been formed catastrophically) to identify something as a pre-Flood, Flood, or post-Flood deposit. We started with Scripture, attempting to identify the geological implications and conditions from the Biblical text. For example, Genesis describes total global coverage of water, so we might expect continental or even global marine sediment deposits to be made during the Flood. After the Flood, deposits, at least those on the continents, would be characterized by having regional and local extents. We selected criteria that might indicate pre-Flood, Flood, or post-Flood conditions. Examples include marine deposits on the continents, deposits of unparalleled extent, global and regional unconformities, transgressive/regressive sequences, true paleosols, and eolian deposits, sea-level indicators, original horizontality, etc. We constructed a table (see p. 433 of the paper) with these criteria along the X-axis and formation names (in stratigraphic order) along the Y-axis. The X-axis categories are organized so the pre-Flood and Flood criteria are generally on the left and the post-Flood criteria to the right. To determine the Flood/post-Flood boundary, for example, look for when the shift occurs from primarily Flood criteria to post-Flood criteria.

Our method showed that the Flood/post-Flood boundary in Wyoming was likely between the Lance and Fort Union Formations, which happens between the Cretaceous and Tertiary. However, this does not mean this boundary is universal. In some of my recent work (yet to be published), it looks like the Flood/post-Flood boundary in Israel may be in the Eocene. In other places around the world, it might be in the Cretaceous, or lower. We encourage authors to use this method to identify Flood boundaries in their areas of familiarity so we can better corelate Flood boundaries around the world.

Figure 1. The Green River Formation of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming is interpreted as a post-Flood deposit using Whitmore and Garner’s (2008) criteria model.

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