Re: Walter Brown Jr. Video

Bill Payne (
Mon, 23 Mar 1998 21:57:51 -0600

Steven Schimmrich wrote:

> The term "polystrate fossils" is not a standard geological term but one
> creationists coined to refer to fossils apparently cutting through several
> layers of strata.

I don't understand your use of the word "apparently", vertical tree
trunks really do penetrate multiple layers of horizontal sand, shale,
and underclay (beneath coal seams). I've never seen one of these
"polystrates" in Alabama with the roots still attached, though. In the
South, at least, they apparently were ripped up from their growth site,
transported in water, and settled vertically out of water, floating to
the bottom similar to the process observed in Spirit Lake at Mt. St.

> One place that such fossils are common is in Joggins,
> Nova Scotia where Carboniferous-age trees are preserved in an upright position.
> The famous 19th century geologist Charles Lyell (a contemporary of Darwin) even
> wrote about these fossils. As Andrew McRae points out in a Talk Origins essay (, the method by which
> these fossils formed was understood back in 1868 (Dawson, J.W., 1868. Acadian
> Geology. The Geological Structure, Organic Remains, and Mineral Resources of
> Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, 2nd edition. MacMillan
> and Co.: London, 694pp). Dawson described over a dozen horizons of in situ
> trees with paleosols (fossil soil horizons) and roots extending downward
> from the trees into the soil horizons. He also found numerous reptile fossils
> in the hollow trunks of many of the trees.

If a YEC were to use a quote more than 15 years old to support his
position, you'd likely say that he has ignored the vast body of research
published during the last X number of years since his outdated reference
was published.

The in situ interpretation of the Joggins polystrates is debatable:

>>229 Rupke, N. A., 1969, Sedimentary evidence for the
allochthonous origin of Stigmaria, Carboniferous, Nova Scotia:
Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 80, pp. 2109-2114.

Stigmaria, the rootlike organ of lycopod trees, has often been
cited by geologists as unambiguous proof of growth-in-place of
trees within sedimentary strata sequences. Rupke challenges the
in situ interpretation of Stigmaria and offers four evidences for
transportation prior to burial:

(1) preferred orientation of the long axes,
(2) fragmentation, not attachment to stumps,
(3) filling with sediment unlike the enveloping rock, and
(4) rapid accumulation of sedimentary beds containing Stigmaria.

(From Catastrophe Reference Database ["CatastroRef"]
General editor is:
Steven A. Austin, Ph.D.
Chairman, Geology Department
Institute for Creation Research
10946 Woodside Avenue North
Santee, California 92071 USA

> It's clear that this deposit
> represents a river floodplain during the Carboniferous Period that was subjected
> to periodic large flooding events which buried the bases of many tree trunks.

I respectfully disagree with you. The evidence I have seen associated
with polystrate fossils in Alabama and coal deposits in Alabama and
Kentucky fits more comfortably with a transported (allochthonous) origin
for both.

> These types of fossils do NOT show any evidence of having been deposited in
> a single global flood and simply haven't been a problem for geologists for
> over 100 years!

Maybe not a single global flood, but possibly not in situ either.
Perhaps you could be a little more open-minded, Steven?