Snelling & Rush on moon dust

Paul A. Nelson (
Wed, 4 Nov 1998 13:14:32 -0600 (CST)

A couple of years ago, Kurt Wise sent me an article on the topic
of moon dust accumulation by the YEC scientists Andrew Snelling and
David Rush. Their comprehensive review, which appeared in the _CEN
Technical Journal_, vol. 7 (1993): 2-42, concludes that moon dust
arguments for a young solar system are invalid.

Here is their abstract:

[begin abstract]

Using a figure published in 1960 of 14,300,000 tons per year
as the meteoritic dust influx rate to the earth,
creationists have argued that the thin dust layer on the
moon's surface indicates that the moon, and therefore the
earth and solar system, are young. Furthermore, it is often
claimed that before the moon landings there was considerable
fear that astronauts would sink into a very thick dust
layer, but subsequently scientists have remained silent as
to why the anticipated dust wasn't there. An attempt is
made here to thoroughly examine these arguments, and the
counter arguments made by detractors, in the light of a
sizable cross-section of the available literature on the

Of the techniques that have been used to measure the
meteoritic dust influx rate, chemical analyses (of deep sea
sediments and dust in polar ice), and satellite-borne
detector measurements appear to be the most reliable.
However, upon close examination the dust particles range in
size from fractions of a micron in diameter and fractions of
a microgram in mass up to millimetres and grams, whence they
become part of the size and mass range of meteorites. Thus
the different measurement techniques cover different size
and mass ranges of particles, so that to obtain the most
reliable estimate requires an integration of results from
different techniques over the full range of particles masses
and sizes. When this is done, most current estimates of the
meteoritic dust influx rate to the earth fall in the range
of 10,000 - 20,000 tons per year, although some suggest this
rate could still be as much as up to 100,000 tons per year.

Apart from the same satellite measurements, with a focusing
factor of two applied so as to take into account differences
in size and gravity between the earth and moon, two main
techniques for estimating the lunar meteoritic dust influx
have been trace element analyses of lunar soils, and the
measuring and counting of microcraters produced by impacting
micrometeorites on rock surfaces exposed on the lunar
surface. Both these techniques rely on uniformitarian
assumptions and dating techniques. Furthermore, there are
serious discrepancies between the microcrater data and the
satellite data that remain unexplained, and that require the
meteoritic dust influx rate to be higher today than in the
past. But the crater-saturated lunar highlands are evidence
of a higher meteorite and meteoritic dust influx in the
past. Nevertheless, the estimates of the current meteoritic
dust influx rate to the moon's surface group around a figure
of 10,000 tons per year.

Prior to direct investigation, there was much debate amongst
scientists about the thickness of dust on the moon. Some
speculated that there would be very thick dust into which
astronauts and their spacecraft might 'disappear', while the
majority believed that there was minimal dust cover. Then
NASA sent up rockets and satellites and used earth-bound
radar to make measurements of the meteoritic dust influx,
results suggesting there was only sufficient dust for a thin
layer on the moon. In mid-1966 the Americans successively
soft-landed five Surveyor spacecraft on the lunar surface,
and so three years before the Apollo astronauts set foot on
the moon, NASA knew that they would only find a thing dust
layer on the lunar surface into which neither the astronauts
nor their spacecraft would 'disappear'. This was confirmed
by the Apollo astronauts, who only found up to a few inches
of loose dust.

The Apollo investigations revealed a regolith at least
several metres thick beneath the loose dust on the lunar
surface. This regolith consists of lunar rock debris
produced by impacting meteorites mixed with dust, some of
which is of meteoritic origin. Apart from impacting
meteorites and micrometeorites it is likely that there are
no other lunar surface processes capable of both producing
more dust and transporting it. It thus appears that the
amount of meteoritic dust and meteoritic debris in the lunar
regolith and surface dust layer, even taking into account
the postulated early intense meteorite and meteoritic dust
bombardment, does not contradict the evolutionists' multi-
billion year timescale (while not proving it).
Unfortunately, attempted counter-responses by creationists
have so far failed because of spurious arguments or faulty
calculations. Thus, until new evidence is forthcoming,
creationists should not continue to use the dust on the moon
as evidence against an old age for the moon and solar

[end abstract]

I have not been able to discover, unfortunately, whether the entire
article is available on the WWW.

Paul Nelson