Overthrusts Are Real

Timothy L. Clarey  tclarey@icr.org

Clarey, T.L. 2013. South Fork and Heart Mountain Faults: Examples of catastrophic, gravity-driven “overthrusts,” northwest Wyoming, USA. In M. Horstemeyer (editor), Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Creationism, [no page numbers]. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.

Creationists in the past have been openly critical of secular explanations of overthrust faults. Some have denied their existence altogether, claiming that “overthrusts” were merely strata containing out-of-order fossils, and that no real faulting had occurred. To their credit, the mechanical difficulty of moving large, coherent sheets of strata great distances down fairly flat slopes has never been adequately explained. Today, however, creationists must accept the results of 1000s of drill-hole penetrations and 1000s of kilometers of seismic reflection data, collected since the 1970s, proving the existence overthrusts. Yet, the question remains, just how could overthrusts have formed?

The “rules” of overthrusting, established by the oil industry in the 1970s, suggest consistent movement directions away from uplifted regions. Overthrusts generally get younger in the direction of transport, often folding and deforming earlier-emplaced thrust sheets in the process. The apparent “uphill” movement of many overthrusts can usually be explained as a consequence of later folding by subsequent thrusts or by ramping uphill as the thrusting ceased. Overthrusts, generally, have a basal detachment from which all younger thrusts originate. High fluid pressures, developing during dewatering reactions and sediment loading, have the ability to create temporary overpressured zones and “float” large thrust sheets down slope.

This paper examines two fault systems as analogies for an “overthrust” Flood model. The famous Heart Mountain Fault near Cody, Wyoming and the lesser-known South Fork Fault in the same locale. Both faults moved catastrophically under the influence of gravity on a horizon of overpressured fluid and/or gasses. Transport was east-southeast. Both have a break-away fault which marks the origin site of the fault systems. Rapid development of near-surface folds in the detached sheets could only have developed while the sediments were still unlithified.

 Late Flood loading by sediment probably created overpressured horizons and rapid uplift and volcanism initiated sliding of the Heart Mountain and South Fork Faults. Similar processes undoubtedly occurred in many mountain belts globally. However, secular explanations of overthrusts, using slow movement and maintenance of overpressured horizons over great distances and long timeframes, still cannot resolve the glaring mechanical paradox. In contrast, a catastrophic model involving rapid downhill movement of unlithified sediments on overpressured detachments, provides both a cause and a mechanism for the development of large and tightly folded thrust sheets.

Creationists who are critical of the geologic column should no longer use the denial of overthrusts as part of their argument. They are, in fact, real features found in many mountain belts across the globe. Instead, creationists should recognize that overthrusts can only be explained in the context of the global Flood.

Heart Mountain near Cody Wyoming, USA. Ordovician and Mississippian strata are emplaced on top of Eocene strata in the northwestern Bighorn Basin.


Posted in Reflections | Leave a comment

The Dawning of Catastrophic Plate Tectonics

John Baumgardner, jrbaumgardner@liberty.edu

Baumgardner, J.R. 1986. Numerical Simulation of the Large-Scale Tectonic Changes Accompanying the Flood.  In R. E. Walsh, C. L. Brooks, and R. S. Crowell (editors), Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, pp. 17–30. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.

This paper, presented at the very first ICC in 1986, was the initial publication proposing that the Flood was a tectonic catastrophe driven by runaway subduction of oceanic plates into the earth’s mantle. As such, it outlined the basic concepts for the framework that has since become known as catastrophic plate tectonics.

As the author, how do I view this paper 35 years later? First of all, I am grateful to God that he allowed me to avoid any gigantic blunders in this initial publication. The foundational observation providing the underpinnings of the paper is that all of today’s igneous ocean crust has formed since the onset of the Flood via the process of seafloor spreading as oceanic plates migrated apart. Assuming no major change in the earth’s radius, this observation implies that at least 60% of the earth’s surface area must have cycled into the earth’s interior during the year of the Flood. This simple logic—apart from any other consideration—represents the basis of catastrophic plate tectonics. The paper includes an exploration of the basic mechanics and heat/energy budget involved. The analysis shows that oceanic plates have sufficient extra density, because of its low temperature relative to the rock in the mantle beneath, to be on the verge of runaway instability were the mantle merely a bit warmer.  It further shows that the gravitational potential energy associated with the layer of cold ocean floor rock is more than sufficient to drive a mechanical mantle overturn.  All these estimates and conclusions still hold 35 years later. The analysis of viscosity reduction from deformational heating introduces the issue of how silicate minerals weaken under increased temperature and stress. That issue has been a major focus of my subsequent research and publications.

Because of the glaring conflict between the Bible’s account of world history and the time scale provided by secular radioisotope dating methods, I include a section on what I suspected to be the fundamental flaw of the secular methods, namely, the assumption of time-invariant nuclear decay rates, drawing heavily on the work of Robert Gentry. The conclusions I offer match closely those of the RATE team later published in 2005.

Finally, I emphasize my earnest conviction that the Flood cannot be explained or modeled purely in terms of time-invariant or uniformitarian physics. In other words, God’s supernatural intervention during the Flood in the laws He ordained appears to be unavoidably required. Specifically, such intervention seems to be demanded to account for an episode of accelerated nuclear decay as well as to cool today’s ocean floor to its present state.  That cooling is essential to lower the global sea level by some 1,500 m and allow the water to drain from the continents.

What did I get wrong in the paper? Probably my most serious mistake was failing to pay heed to the vast amount of new seafloor creation during the Cenozoic portion of the geological record which allowed me to place the end of the runaway and hence the end of the Flood at the end of the Mesozoic.  I deeply regret that error. Much less serious was my conjecture that the pre-Flood mantle would need to be somewhat warmer than it is today for the runaway instability to occur. With better understanding of how silicate minerals weaken under stress, I no longer conclude that necessarily to be the case. Further, I am now aware that the Sierra Nevada granites are a complex of pancake-shaped sills, as opposed to a large coherent batholith, that plausibly might be able to cool via normal hydrothermal processes during the time since the Flood. Finally, I regret the several typographical mistakes that somehow were missed in editing. Overall, I am grateful this paper has endured this test of time and scrutiny by my peers.

Seismic images display a ring of rock (shown above in blue) at the bottom of the mantle with much higher-than-average seismic speed. The most likely explanation for the higher seismic speed is lower temperature. This ring of rock lies beneath the major zones where ocean plates have plunged into the mantle in the past. The low temperature in this ring of rock suggests it corresponds to subducted surface rock that has sunk to the base of the mantle. The red features in the images above appear to represent hot rock that has been shoved aside by the cold rock from above. The inferred temperature difference between the red and blue regions is on the order of 3,000 °C. However, the temperature at the core-mantle boundary is estimated to be no more than 3,500-4,000 °C. Hence, the temperature in the blue ring of rock is not appreciably different from the average temperature of today’s oceanic plates. Such low temperatures are inexplicable in terms of a time scale of 50-100 million years that the secular framework requires for subducted surface rock to sink to the bottom of the mantle. However, they are powerful support for an episode of global catastrophic plate tectonics that occurred only a few thousand years ago.

Posted in Reflections | Leave a comment

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

John H. Whitmore, johnwhitmore@cedarville.edu

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.

Posted in Reflections | Leave a comment

Message from the ICC Chairman

There have been some changes at the International Conference on Creationism. The organization has a new location at Cedarville University and new website. At the next conference we plan to hold some new types of presentations, such as abstracts, posters, and interactive forums, alongside the traditional presentation of papers. With so much that is new, I thought this might be a good time to consider the unchanging purpose of the ICC.  The official mission of the conference is to promote the development and dissemination of positive contributions to a young earth creationist model of origins and models of earth history that recognize the reality of the global Flood described in Genesis. So our goal is more than just giving creationists a place to showcase their work.  Each ICC is dedicated to bringing researchers together to present their work and discuss it with other researchers so that iron can sharpen iron – we can both spread what we have learned and help each other push the work further.  The objective is that we improve our understanding of how God has accomplished His work in history so we can glorify Him in that work all the more.

It is my hope and prayer that this attitude will saturate our interactions as we go into the 2023 conference.  This is a conference for Young Earth Creationists; we will not demonize those who disagree but that is what we understand the Scriptures to teach and that is the position we will support.  But within that community there are different hypotheses and different interpretations of the evidence.  We all agree on the big picture but we differ significantly on the details.  That is not a bad thing – research advances when researchers critically scrutinize each other’s evidence and question their conclusions.  But I would challenge us to do that in a spirit of friendship. It is easy to lose perspective in the heat of debate, but we are on the same side.  If those who argue for origin by evolution or an old earth are not our enemies but our neighbors, how much more is the person who agrees with us that the world is young but differs on how to resolve the issue of distant starlight or the person who agree with us that the global flood truly occurred but differs on where to locate it’s end in the geologic column not our enemy but our ally. We should come together, present our work, and debate our interpretations in a spirit of respect and friendship.  This is not a venue for division, but for strengthening our understanding together.

With that in mind, I invite you to submit your research for presentation at the ICC.  You can find the official call for papers on this website and we plan to make an author’s manual available this summer, to guide you as you prepare your work.  We look forward to seeing you at Cedarville in July 2023.

Aaron Hutchison

Chairman of the Board, ICC

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2023 ICC Call for Papers

As you may have heard, the Creation Science Fellowship of Pittsburgh, transferred ownership of the International Conference of Creationism (ICC) to Cedarville University. We are inviting proposals to be considered for presentation at the next conference to be held July 16-19, 2023 in Cedarville, Ohio. Along with the traditional full-length papers, this ICC will include some additional types of presentations. In continuation with previous ICC’s, the theme is Developing and Systematizing the Creation Model of Origins.  Interested scholars should submit electronic proposals according to the calendar deadlines found in this document. Further guidelines for each type of presentation can be found in the Author’s Manual (2023 ICC Authors manual). The guidelines in the Author’s Manual should be carefully followed, or the proposal will be rejected. The submission and review process will be entirely electronic, with links through the ICC website.

Topics for all sessions include:

  • THEOLOGY AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCE: Biblical Models and Hermeneutics, Mathematical and Logical Models, Philosophy of Science
  • LIFE SCIENCES: Cell and Molecular Biology, Organismal Biology, Biogeography, Systematics, Genetics, Ecology
  • ASTRONOMY AND ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES: Astro-chronometry, Cosmogony & Cosmology, Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Change
  • EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCES: Geochemistry & Geochronology, Geophysics, Physical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, Paleontology
  • PHYSICAL SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND APPLIED SCIENCES: Chemistry, Physics, Intelligent Design, Numerical Simulation Methods in Creation Research
  • SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE HUMANITIES: Philosophy of History, History, Linguistics, Archeology, Psychology, Economics and Political Science, Education

Proposals dealing with the age of the earth/universe must be from a young-earth perspective. Proposals from an old-earth, local flood, geocentric, anti-relativity, or anti-quantum mechanics perspective will not be considered for this conference.


 1) Full-Length Papers:

Full-length original papers will be considered from a wide range of disciplines, generally 10,000 to 20,000 words in length. Review papers are allowed, but all papers should be original and should not be currently considered for publication elsewhere. There are several steps to the eventual publication of a full-length paper in the Proceedings:

  • Proposal: An 800-word proposal is due no later than September 30, 2022. Proposals will be peer-reviewed by an Area Editor and one or more peer-reviewers.
  • First Draft: If the proposal is accepted, the first draft is due no later than December 31, 2022. Papers will be peer-reviewed by an Area Editor and two or more peer-reviewers.
  • Final Draft: If the first draft is accepted, the final draft is due no later than April 30, 2023 and must be acceptable by the editors for publication.
  • PowerPoint: Due one week prior to the conference.
  • Presentation: About one hour (45 minute talk, 10 minute Q&A) during the conference.

2) Abstracts:

Abstracts are short (350 words) and accompany an oral presentation (12 minutes) and allow scholars to publish and present preliminary data and conclusions not yet ready for a full-length paper.

  • Proposal: Abstract proposals are due by April 30, 2023. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed by an Area Editor and possibly other reviewers. The decision to reject, accept with revisions, or accept will generally take about two weeks.
  • Final Draft: If the abstract is accepted, final corrections need to be made by May 31, 2023. A copy of your abstract will appear in the Proceedings.
  • PowerPoint: Due one week before the conference.
  • Presentation: 12 minute presentation and 2 minute Q&A during the conference.

3) Posters:

Posters are visual presentations of a scholar’s work, no more than 42 inches wide and 42 inches tall. Posters will be displayed throughout the length of the conference in a poster hall. Authors will be able to “present” their poster during a specified two-hour time window during the conference. The responsibility of printing the poster is the author’s and should be completed before arriving in Cedarville.

  • Proposal: Poster abstract proposals are due by April 30, 2023. The poster abstract (350 words) will be peer-reviewed by an Area Editor and possibly other reviewers. The decision to reject, accept with revisions, or accept will generally take about two weeks.
  • Final Draft: If the abstract is accepted, final corrections need to be made by May 31, 2023. Consult the Author’s Manual to find out what information needs to be included on each poster.
  • Poster: A pdf copy of your poster needs to sent to the Editor one week before the conference. A pdf copy of your poster and your abstract will appear in the Proceedings pending final acceptance by the Editor.
  • Presentation: Two-hour presentation (standing by your poster) during the conference with the opportunity to informally dialogue with interested conference attendees.

4) Interactive Forums:

ICC wants to provide a forum for interactive discussion among scholars, which can be interdisciplinary. Along these lines, we are looking for proposals for “interactive” sessions. These can take many different forms including themed presentations of papers and abstracts, workshops, round-table discussions, panel discussions, etc. We are looking for creative proposals from moderators to facilitate and lead such opportunities of varying length, from one to four hours. Proposals need to be made by April 30, 2023. The ICC Board of Directors will make the final decisions about the number and length of the sessions based on the submitted proposals. These sessions will not be published with the exception of accepted papers, abstracts, and posters that might be themed to go along with a particular session. Accepted papers, abstracts and posters can be requested by the moderator to be presented at a particular interactive forum.

5) Field Trips:

Field trips can be of variable length and occur before, during or after the conference. Submitted proposals will be considered after the April 30, 2023 deadline by the ICC Board of Directors. Field trip moderators are responsible for making trip arrangements and should propose a cost for participants including such things as museum admission, transportation and meals. Field trip participants will be able to register through the ICC website when they register for the conference.

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

International Conference on Creationism Coming to Cedarville University

CEDARVILLE, OHIO — Cedarville University is the new home for the International Conference on Creationism (ICC) to be held next in the summer of 2023. The ICC has become known as the premier creation conference in the world with ground breaking contributions in genetics, geology, astronomy, biology and 3-D computer modeling.

Cedarville and the Creation Science Fellowship (CSF) of Pittsburgh signed an agreement this spring for Cedarville to be the new owners, host and repository for the ICC.

The ICC began in 1986 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a place for creation scientists to gather, present and publish their research. The conference has been held eight times, the last one in 2018. It has drawn attendees from all over the world.

“We wanted a forum where creationist thinkers and researchers could network and discuss matters such as physics and quantum mechanics,” said Bob Walsh, CSF chairman.  “We also wanted to have a place where we could submit research for peer-review and develop a rigorous quantifiable peer-review process. Networking and sharing research were our two main motivations.”

In the past, conferences have typically been held in the summer, but CFS has had difficulties finding locations with overnight accommodations plus eating and meeting space. “We have the residence halls, conference facilities and the academic atmosphere for hosting such a conference,” noted Dr. John Whitmore, Cedarville’s senior professor of geology and editor of the most recent 2018 ICC proceedings.

“Cedarville has a doctrinal statement in line with ICC’s goals, a scientific staff that can guide the editorial process, and a library that can professionally archive all the proceedings to make them electronically accessible by anyone in the world.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students,” he continued. “We see this as a platform to encourage them to do research in an area of interest, such as Noah’s flood, the age of the earth, evolution or baraminology, which is the study of created Genesis kinds. We had several of our geology students write papers and present at the last ICC. This takes them up to another level.”

All of ICC’s past peer-reviewed research will be housed on Cedarville’s online archive, and a website will be developed for those interested in discovering the content online. The new website will be InternationalConferenceOnCreationism.com.

“ICC holds to a young earth creation worldview,” said Bob Walsh of CSF. “Many of the scientists at Cedarville hold this position as well. We are very excited about having Cedarville take the mantle of ICC.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its Bachelor of Science in Geology program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.

Written by Clem Boyd

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment