Re: Coal (Was the saddest statement)

Bill Payne (
Fri, 3 Sep 1999 00:28:38 -0600

On Thu, 02 Sep 1999 05:58:48 +0000 writes:

>>I assume the flooded forests you cited have stumps with roots still
>I honestly don't know. I havn't ever seen a report about anyone dig
>up to see what the case is with the fine roots.

Forget the fine roots, what about the fat roots? This is a critical
point which undermines your swamp model and supports the floating mat
model. With no observations to the contrary, and with waterlogged trees
lasting hundreds of years (or longer), I think we can safely assume that
the insitu roots of a flooded forest would still be intact in the former
soil. Otherwise, we would have to envision a mechanism to rot the roots
but not the stumps/trunks.

I've found at least one reference stating that rooted stumps (in this
case) were transported: "Numerous large fossil tree trunks, as much as 1
m in diameter, are preserved in the Aycross Formation on a ridge on the
southeastern flank of Sheldon Dome in Maverick Spring Quadrangle. The
tree trunks, several feet in length, include complete root systems and
are in an upright position, indicating rapid sedimentation and burial.
The lenticular distributary and channel-fill character of these sandstone
beds indicates deposition of coalescing fans on an alluvial plain that
was crossed by moderately flowing streams, with a predominant source to
the west." (Windolph, Warlow, and Hickling: Deposition of deltaic and
intermontane Cretaceous and Tertiary coal-bearing strata in the Wind
River Basin, Wyoming; in _Paleoenvironmental and Tectoic Controls in
Coal-Forming Basins in the United States_; Geological Society of America
Special Paper 210, p 133)

I am extrapolating this observation to other root systems, especially
those not attached to stumps, that crosscut strata and saying that these
roots are not necessarily indicative of insitu growth. Roots
crosscutting strata is the fundamental evidence used by Bob Gastaldo in
his 1984 paper to discredit Steve Austin's floating mat model.
Gastaldo's assumption is in conflict with the statement from Special
Paper 210 above.

It is curious that the pictures Gastaldo furnishes of roots crosscutting
strata are not below a coal seam; in fact no coal seams are shown in the
photos in his paper. Could it be because there were no stigmarian axial
root systems to be found below the coals he studied? My own observations
of the strip pit in Blount County, Alabama which Gastaldo referenced as
the location for one of his pictures, bears this out. The following
would further suggest that this is the case:

"Reports of stigmarian roots extending down from coal beds into seat
rocks are common in older geologic literature (Stevenson, 1913, p
232-241; 1921, p 402-405; Ashley, 1928, p 65), but the occurences seem to
be rare, possibly because of inherent difficulties in observation."
(Huddle and Patterson, Origin of Pennsylvanian Underclay and Related Seat
Rocks, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v 72, p 1643-1660)

So even if you don't see the roots, we know that they are there because
this was a swamp and swamps had to have trees with roots, and the only
reason we don't see them is because of "inherent difficulties in

Won't work, Glenn.