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Publish date: Jun 10, 2009
Summary: The rare process of petrification has left forests full of evidence for us to explore.
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Age Implications of Petrified, Fossilized Trees
One of the finest modern-day detective stories regarding catastrophism in the fossil record is the story of the petrified trees found in Yellowstone National Park.
The general distribution and vertical layering of the petrified trees in the Yellowstone National Park and other petrified forests of the world are interpreted to indicate a series of up to 40 successive forests whose combined age was estimated as being well in excess of time-restraints imposed by a flood model.
It was believed that each forest was destroyed by volcanic activity, to be replaced in the course of time by a new forest. It was argued that this evidence could not support a young age for the earth. Dr. Harold Coffin carried out a detailed investigation of these petrified forests and discovered that they strongly support the catastrophic model.
As many of the trees stand upright in an apparent position of growth, it was accepted that they were the remains of an actual forest. However, the strata are uniformly flat and unlike any modern forest which, if covered by volcanic ash, would show trees growing on slopes and other uneven topography. Closer examination reveals that the petrified trees have no bark with side branches and root stocks ripped off. This is inconsistent with trees being covered with ash while in a position of growth.
There are not only upright trees in these strata, but many horizontal trees as well.i In places, the vertical separation is actually very small; the new layer lying just above the stumps of the older layer. Close examination of the strata reveals typical evidence of sorting of layers, which tend to show reverse grading with the coarser material on top. This is consistent with material that has been deposited by water-induced slides and slumps, and does not support deposition of dry volcanic ash.
The organic layers, which previously were considered to represent the compacted forest floors, are water sorted, which belies a mere forest situation. Analyses of tree orientation show that both horizontal and vertical trees are orientated in distinct directions.
By comparison, the orientation of fallen trees in standing forests in Oregon, deciduous forests in Michigan, and redwood forests in California show a lack of orientation.
A solution to these anomalies came in 1980, when Mount St. Helens erupted. The March 30 eruption melted the glacial ice, precipitating a flood on the south side of the mountain. Along with cold volcanic ash, the rushing water carried a large number of trees down the side of the mountain.
These trees of varying sizes were stripped of their side branches, bark, and roots. The logs were buried in the volcanic ash with a predominant stream orientation. This is similar to the orientation of the petrified trees on the slopes of Mount Horniday.
On May 18, Mount St. Helens erupted again, with an accompanying earthquake. Tremendous pressure within the mountain was released after a rockslide, and the top 400 metres of the mountain were blown off in a catastrophic explosion. A force equivalent to 500 Hiroshima atomic bombs was unleashed. The destruction of the forest was total, with the trees literally blasted out of the ground. Debris falling in the lakes surrounding the mountain caused tidal waves which washed uprooted trees into newly formed and existing lakes.
In Spirit Lake a study found that the logs that had root stumps rapidly righted themselves, assuming a vertical position. A recent sonar scan of the bottom of the lake revealed 19,500 upright trees on the bottom of the lake.ii If we apply this scenario to the situation prevailing in Yellowstone National Park, we can readily account for the existing situation on the basis of the catastrophic model.
More than one eruptive cycle would cause many currents and account for the numerous layers positioned over each other. Moreover, studies on the chemical composition of the volcanic deposits show that they were from eruptive events occurring simultaneously over a short period of time. This means that the relationship between chemical components in volcanic ejecta is constant only for single eruptive cycles.
Studies on lava flows in Hawaii show that eruptive events separated by more than three months can be distinguished on the basis of the magma composition. The time implications for the formation of the petrified forests are thus consistent with the short chronology. Further evidence for catastrophism can be found in fossils that are embedded in more than one geological layer simultaneously a situation which is impossible if uniformitarian principles are applied.
How long would it take wood to petrify? It has always been believed by scientists that petrification must take place over millions of years. However, these processes can take place rapidly. Instant petrification has been achieved artificially and under natural circumstances. By impregnating wood with solutions high in minerals such as silicon and aluminum, instant petrification has been achieved and even patented.iii
Given the right circumstances, it would not take long for petrification to take place. Floodwaters together with volcanic ash would provide the perfect mineral combination for this process.
Read more evidence for The Biblical Flood. Updated January 2009.
i. Harold G. Coffin, "Orientation of Trees in Yellowstone Petrified Forests," Journal of Palaeontology. 50 3 (1976):539-543.
ii. Harold G. Coffin, "Erect floating stumps in Spirit Lake, Washington," Geology. 11 (1983):298-299.
iii. P. McCafferty, 1992 "Instant petrified wood?" Popular Science, (1992):56-57. For examples of rapid petrification see also, R. Piggot, The Australian Lapidary Magazine, (January 1970):9.
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