Re: Gastaldo

Steven Schimmrich (
Thu, 20 May 1999 09:40:41 -0400

I'm willing to discuss both Gastaldo and Joggins. But I am at the tail end of finals
here at Calvin (meaning I have a lot of grading to do), am preparing materials for a
summer course starting next Tuesday, and am going away for a few days this weekend. I
will do so next week. In your discussions, however, you can not continue to reference
coals which you've seen in Alabama, etc. but for which there is no published information.
I can't discuss something I haven't seen or which hasn't been properly documented in
the geologic literature (so I have to take your word on what's actually there). Agreed?

- Steve.

At 10:06 PM 5/19/99 -0600, you wrote:
>On Tue, 18 May 1999 20:36:20 -0400 Steven Schimmrich
><> writes:
>> I didn't bother because Keith Miller jumped in and you and he had long
>>discussions about coal formation (and Keith knows a lot more about it
>>than I do).
>Ah, yes. Keith's reply, to which I suppose you are referring is at:
>I was discussing Gastaldo, and Keith brings in his view of paleosols
>which, according to Keith, have few if any roots: "In the buried
>Holocene and Pleistocene soils that I have briefly examined, I have yet
>to see any intact root systems. Intact root systems
>have very poor preservation potential in soils (although they are
>preserved), the microstructure and chemical/mineralogical zonation is
>is commonly preserved." [IOW, the roots used to be there, but they have
>Keith recently said that he had read and agrees with Gastaldo, yet when I
>pointed out an obvious contradiction between what Keith and Gastaldo had
>said, Keith went into full retreat
>(, where I quoted
>"Modern trees on saturated substrates do not send down penetrating roots.
> There is no need to send down roots for water, and the roots need to
>have access to oxygen to respire. Their roots are thus very shallow. It
>is likely that the soil features and rooting observed in paleosols
>underlying the coals is unrelated to the conditions (climatically, and
>ecologically) that existed during peat formation. [snip] Furthermore the
>underclays you and Gastaldo describe are not "intensely" rooted anyway."
>[IOW, the roots were never there in the first place.]
>and I replied:
>4) You previously stated that you agree with Gastaldo. In his 1984
>paper, page 108, Gastaldo states: "That the stigmarian axial systems
>embedded within the underclays (paleosols) of coals represent stands of
>lycopods in non-peat and peat accumulating environments is
>unquestionable." In light of your statement ..., do you agree with
>this statement of Gastaldo? If so, how do you reconcile the two?
>And Keith replied (
>"I cannot comment further on anything regarding stumps and large root
>systems within coals. I have seen trunks and stumps perhaps only twice in
>the field as part of fieldtrips. I did not have the time to examine them
>closely. The basis of the recognition of the in situ origin of the great
>majority of coals is simply not based on the presence or absence of
>and large rooting structures."
>Large rooting structures and their cross-cutting relationship with
>adjacent strata are _precisely_ what Gastaldo used to make his case for
>the in situ origin of coal.
>So, is Keith the best defense you can muster, Steve? Keith admits: "I
>have seen trunks and stumps perhaps only twice in the field as part of
>fieldtrips. I did not have the time to examine them closely." Keith says
>that "Furthermore the underclays you and Gastaldo describe are not
>"intensely" rooted anyway", while Gastaldo says: "That the stigmarian
>axial systems embedded within the underclays (paleosols) of coals
>represent stands of lycopods in non-peat and peat accumulating
>environments is _unquestionable_." Keith knows a lot about paleosols,
>but, by is own admission, very little about coal and underclays. Keith
>says the presence or absence of stumps and large rooting structures is
>irrelevant, while Gastaldo says the presence of stigmarian axial systems
>unquestionablely proves that coals formed from in situ trees. Keith's
>statements are diametrically opposed to Gastaldo's, yet Keith never said
>or admitted that he and Gastaldo are at odds, he just retreated.
>I'm not a Seventh Day Adventist, Steve, so you can't accuse me of having
>no choice but to prove YEC the way you do to dismiss Art; I'm not making
>up imaginary stuff to buttress my arguments so you can't call me a liar
>like you usually do YECs; and I'm not going away so you can't keep
>putting me off on your challenge to discuss the Joggins, Nova Scotia coal
>But first you and I have some unfinished business relative to Gastaldo.
>You asked for and received my critique on Gastaldo. You have
>demonstrated in the past your ability to research and formulate
>reasonable arguments, as you did in your Sat, 09 May 1998 response (see
>ASA archives) to my post on the Coconino sandstone. Now it is time for
>you to quit hiding behind Keith and once again rise to the occasion: If
>you agree with Gastaldo, point out where my logic fails. If you agree
>with me, have the courage to admit it and let's move on. You may take
>your time, but you may not refuse this engagement without losing face,
>Your choice.
>"One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off."
>(I Kings 20:11)
>You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
>Get completely free e-mail from Juno at
>or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]

   Steven H. Schimmrich                         Assistant professor of geology
   Department of Geology and Geography (office)
   Calvin College                      (home)
   3201 Burton Street SE                        616-957-7053, 616-957-6501 (fax)
   Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546