Re: 14C (was Four Rivers Revisited)

David Campbell (
Mon, 3 May 1999 11:26:20 -0400

>It is usually thought that the Flood catastrophe would wash the atmosphere
>pretty much clear of 14C, and that afterwards 14C would have to be built
>back up in the atmosphere to balance the decay rate. Plants which began to
>grow after the catastrophe would be very low in 14C compared with today and
>thus would appear to be very much older than they really were.

14C is created by cosmic rays zapping nitrogen in the atmosphere. The
Flood would not affect the rate of cosmic ray input from space. Especially
with asteroids splashing water around all over (and producing enough heat
to vaporize the water), the surficial oceanic 14C ratio will not be all
that drastically out of equilibrium with the atmosphere, so washing does
not get rid of it.

Do you think that the 14C cycle before the Flood was similar to the current
one? That would obviously affect the expected pattern.

>The possible stratification would need to have existed for only the 150
>days or so of the Astroid storm. After that, the atmospheric and
>hydrologic systems would then start to reach equilibriums again and animal
>life would seek out appropriate environments. How long would oxygen need
>to last in those strata during the 150 days?

I can't hold my breath for 150 days. Things with lower metabolism can last
longer with low oxygen, but it does not take long for anoxia to kill all
the oxygen-depended organisms when it happens today (due to stagnation,
rise in temperature, pollution, eutrophication, etc.).

>It should be noted that Woodmorappe's proposal was developed before the
>current ideas of an Asteroid storm has become more popular in Creationary
>circles. However, even in such a model, it is not necessary that complete
>homogeneity occured.

You do need homogeneity in your models to be credible, though.

>> If the waters were more mixed, as should result from asteroid showers, 45
>> mile per hour plate motion, and other things envisioned in many flood
>> scenarios, then there should be little stratification between deeper and
>> shallower-water isotopes. However, with only rare exceptions (a brief
>> interval in the late Paleocene is the only exception I know of, when
>> circulation patterns shifted in a brief period of rapid mixing),
>> deeper-water organisms show systematically different isotopic ratios,
>> similar to the modern differences between shallow and deep water.
>> Foraminifera have been particularly studied in this regard.
>could you restate this somehow. I can't seem to understand it. Sorry.

Today, there are different layers of water at different depths in the
ocean. Differences in salinity and temperature create differences in
density. These differences lead to the sinking of denser water, rising of
less dense water, and limited mixing between layers. In shallow water,
interaction with the atmosphere and the activity of living things affect
the abundance of different isotopes. For example, the isotopes that are
particularly popular with living organisms (e.g., 12C) are relatively
depleted in the surface layers. The deepest layers are affected by
interaction with the seafloor, hydrothermal vents, etc. Layers below the
surface are also affected by the decay of dead organisms falling down from
shallow water, and some factors resulting from the differences in pressure
and temperature.

As a result of all this, the ratios of varios isotopes differ depending on
the water depth. Organisms that live at different depths will have
different ratios from each other, because they are taking in different
ratios. However, if something happens to mix up the layers, such as
occurred in the Late Paleocene, organisms that live at different depths
will have similar ratios. (Also, a lot of organisms die because they
cannot tolerate the change in their layer).

If there was extensive mixing, as would result from many popular flood
geology scenarios (any that involve extensive tectonic activity during a
short period of time, for example), then the isotopes should look similar
for any depth. If a large portion of the geologic column consists of
deposits formed during this time, then the organisms should have similar
ratios throughout. They don't.

This also raises the issue of stable isotope stratigraphy, which I have not
yet seen addressed, much less answered, by flood geology models. Layers
deposited at the same time (as evidenced by biostratigraphy, radiometric
dating, magnetostratigraphy, etc.) have similar ratios of stable isotopes.
For example, the ratio of 13C to 12C shows gradual changes and some spikes
over time. These changes are worldwide. Ocean currents and winds must
have enough time to carry the elements around the world in order to produce
these patterns.

>The increase in 14C in the atmosphere would be geometric.

Why? I do not know any particular reason why not, either, but is there
better evidence for this than "many things in nature show geometric
increase?" If I remeber correctly, that was the argument for exponential
decrease in sedimentation rates after the flood.

> 80 to 90 percent
>of equilibrium may be reached in several hundred years. On would indeed
>expect to find changes in 14C in trees plants and animals which lived
>shortly after the Flood, (assuming that the 14C would not be mixed
>homogenously within the plant or animal). However, the likelyhood that
>remains of animal or plant life from that time has survived to today. I
>dont' believe that the survivng Bristlecone pines are anywhere near that

If this explains the pattern of 14C data, then we are finding remains of
plants and animals from that time. 14C is largely sequestered in tree
trunks or other accreting hard parts, though even in extreme examples such
as that, there is probably not total isolation from new input until the
organism dies. Thus, some old tree trunks ought to show a dramatic
increase in 14C ratios if this model is correct. If this model were
correct, the relative dating from 14C should be accurate (unless pre-and
post-flood material is being mixed and pre-flood had modern-like input),
even though the absolute dating is mistaken.

David C.