Re: Canadian Coal - unanswered questions Part 2

From: Kevin Sharman <>
Date: Sat Apr 17 2004 - 03:29:42 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Payne" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004 11:23 PM
Subject: Re: Canadian Coal - unanswered questions

Hi Bill,

Part 2 of my response to your post of April 11th which made it to me but not
to the list (too long I suspect).

> Sorry for the delay in responding, Kevin. You've got me very stretched
> out - which is good, and I appreciate your challenges.
> On Wed, 17 Mar 2004 22:24:43 -0700 "Kevin Sharman" <>
> writes:

> > 7. ash layers beneath floating mats
> >
> > This one needs an extra-special variation on your turbidite theme,
> >which you
> > have not provided. You need to provide a credible reason why an ash
> >layer
> > would not be mixed by a high energy event like a turbidity current. I
> >have
> > commented recently on the drifting and settling that you recently
> >proposed -
> > I don't think that's the answer either.
> (snip) Tell me again why fine particles controlled by Stokes Law would not
> over large areas, carried by gentle currents present in the water or
> pushed by their own higher specific gravity, as they slowly settled out
> of suspension.
Read my post of March 17th - your ash drift mechanism doesn't work because
you don't have time to settle out multiple layers of ash in a one year flood
time frame, due to the small particle size of the ash and the water depth
you need to float extremely thick mats. In your Flood scenario, sediment
must to raining down at 10's of meters per day to account for the thickness
of strata we see. Don't you think this would mix with your ash drifting on
gentle currents?

Turbidity currents carrying ash would run along the sea floor, where they
would pick up clays and silts which would be mixed with the ash, not
preserved in thin layers like we see.
> > 8. Petrology - inertinite, segregation
> >
> > No comment from you on the petrology post, where I showed that
> >inertinite
> > was from oxidation of the peat, which would not happen underwater, and
> > segregation of inertinite rich layers in coal seams could not be
> >explained
> > by floating mat deposition.
> "Studies of ash falls in Cretaceous coals of the western United States
> show that the ash increased the pH of the water in the peat mire, causing
> an increase in inertinite just below the ash layer. (snip) (Greb et al,
Geology of the Fire Clay coal in part of
> the eastern Kentucky coal field, Kentucky Geological Survey Report of
> Investigations 2, Series XII, 1999, pp 31-32)
> Can you please explain why inertinite cannot form underwater, when it
> appears that the inertinite described by Greb et al above did form
> underwater?

In the paper, Greb does not cite his references for these Cretaceous
studies, so I am unable to check this further. Inertinite is formed by
oxidation, so it could occur if the water has sufficiently high oxygen
content (shallow), but this is not a case that would apply in the 80 meters
of water that an 8 meter thick coal seam formed from a floating mat

In any case, inertinite is very common in coals, and occurs mostly without
> I have seen debates over the origin of fusain, as to whether it is the
> result of fire or other processes. I'm really not qualified to comment
> on your petrology post, other than to say that the origin of these
> various features may not be as open and shut as you believe.

> In the 1950s Schultz published a paper on the origin of underclay being
> sedimentary, not weathered subaerially. Geologists have told me that
> Schultz' work is now discredited by further research. For instance, they
> say that more accurate and detailed analysis of the clay profile does
> show subdued weathering vertically. My thinking is that acid water in
> the overlying coal would cause the same weathering effect diagenetically.
> Same result, but very different process to get there. I know diagenesis
> doesn't include weathering, but you understand my use of the term here.

Afraid not. Most paleosols showing alteration characteristic of weathering
are not associated with coal seams, and many are not even associated with
> The best I can do with your petrology post is to say that it is heavy on
> interpretation, and there may be another explanation not apparent to
> investigators with only one model to use as a framework for
> reconstruction.

Of course there may, but you have not come up with a decent counter argument
to mine, so for now you must accept this as refuting your scenario.
> > 9. large intervals of multiple layers of vertical roots in the Gates
> > Formation, alternating with thick coal seams.
> >
> > No comments.

> (snip) Again, as I have said before, sparse, whimpy shrub and grass roots
> (weren't there a couple of posts with the subject line "Whimpy Roots"?)
> are not sufficient to create a peat mat capable of supporting heavy trees
> and preventing the tree roots from penetrating vertically into the
> mineral substrate.

So the Modern swamp with no roots below it (Neuzil et al, Inorganic
geochemistry of domed peat in Indonesia... first cited by you Dec. 25th)?
How did it form? This modern example refutes your whole argument! So what
if you can show modern tree roots penetrating the substrate? Examination of
a modern swamp which is considered to be a good analogue for ancient peat
forming environments shows that peat CAN and DOES accumulate without roots
in the substrate.

>In fact, the roots of large, well-spaced trees, such
> as we see in modern swamps, must penetrate the substrate for two reasons:
> A) Roots are strong in tension but weak in compression. If the
> tree roots were only on the peat surface except for an occasional
> vertical root as you contend, the tree would not be able to stand (snip)
> light wind would blow the tree over, especially if it was over 20 feet
> tall, which many Pennsylvanian trees were.
> B) Trees must have access to nutrients, which normally come from
> mineral substrates. Trees with roots limited to peat deposits are
> stunted because of the lack of nutrients. (snip)

Nice theorizing, but refuted by the modern Indonesian example above. Most
of the conifer trees in the forests in northern BC where I live (10 to 30
meters tall) have wide shallow root systems that don't penetrate more than
50 cm into the substrate, and they are still standing in high winds.

You are talking out of both sides of your mouth here. You say that mats are
root bound enough to survive through an intense global flood without
breaking up, but a tree with its roots in the mat only (not in the
substrate) would fall over in a light breeze.
>(snip) Another possibility I haven't mentioned is that the
> plants or seeds were buried alive and began to grow, sinking roots down
> vertically and attempting to push up to light, which is what normally
> happens when a seed is buried. This would explain vertical roots in
> high-energy sand, and explain why the root zone is not well developed
> (why the roots are sparse rather than intensely rooted). The burial rate
> could be relatively fast and continuous; the seeds and plants would sink
> roots down even though they were already too deeply buried to ever
> flourish. This would also explain the rooted core on Glenn's website,
> within a short time frame.

Three problems: where are the above ground portions of the plants?

Why are roots confined to specific horizons instead of being distributed
throughout the beds, as would be expected if the seeds were mixed in by a

Why are vegetation types segregated (lycopods in the Paleozoic strata only,
etc.) if the source of seeds was the pre-Flood biosphere with all created
> > 10. vertical zonation of plant types, pollen, spores
> >
> > No comments.
> This vertical (and horizontal) zonation is consistent with an organic mat
> ripped up intact. Any vertical zonation will be said by you to be
> evidence of plant succession; I would say it is evidence of zonation
> inherent in the floating mat, or a succession of mats.

Absolute rubbish! Ripping up mats and floating them around would randomly
distribute plant types, pollen, etc, even if you stacked them. Do I have to
belabor this point?: large lycopods are only found in Paleozoic strata, not
younger; angiosperms are not found in pre-Cretaceous coals, etc.
> > 11. vertical zonation of vertebrates
> >
> > You commented that it provided strong evidence for evolution, and that
> you
> > would like to keep your mind open to all the possibilities. No
> explanation
> > of how this would happen in a floating mat/Flood scenario.
> I'm not sure this is related to coal, but you are correct, I have no
> rational explanation at this time. I have ordered a book edited by Kurt
> Wise: _Faith, Form and Time_, which may deal with this question. Once I
> read it, I will let you know if there are any answers there to this
> objection.

Quote from the book - "The Bible is preserved, reliable, and true because of
the nature of its Author. It should be believed over observation and
evidence." (Chapter 2). Don't look for any solid science out of this
> > 12. Stokes Law
> >
> > You commented that unknown and unconsidered variables may alter and/or
> > invalidate Stokes Law. No comment when I asked what the unconsidered
> > variables would be, and no explanation of why the observed data in
> >seams is
> > inconsistent with Stokes Law settling.
> We had some discussion about acidic water causing flocculation. You
> responded (17 March 04) by saying that this occurs mainly with clays,
> since they are electrically charged:
> "Pure claystone partings are rare anyways; there is normally a lot of
> silt. Silt particles don't flocculate to any great extent, because they
> don't
> carry surface electrical charges like clays."
> To check what you said, I took two 40-ml vials, one with HCl and one
> plain, and filled them both with turbid (very dark gray) water from a
> monitoring well I was purging to sample. I shook them both to get all of
> the particles into suspension, then set them side-by-side with a stop
> watch. I have a series of photos, that show the settling rates of each
> bottle, which I will forward to you (and anyone else that requests them).
> From the photos you can see that both bottles are equally turbid after 1
> minute 6 seconds. After 7 m 0 s the acidified bottle was only slightly
> turbid, while the non-acidified bottle had only begun to clear. At 20 m
> and also at 40 m both bottles are almost clear, with only slightly more
> turbidity in the non-acidified bottle. When allowed to sit for several
> days, both bottles clear completely.
>(snip) The question is whether non-clay particles are subject to
> The "Time to Settle in Dispersion Test" of various particles is as
> follows: sandy silt - 30 sec to 60 min; silt - 15 min to 60 min; clay -
> several hours to days (from Peck et at, _Foundation Engineering_, 1974, p
> 7). Since nearly all particles in the experiment I ran had settled in 20
> minutes, we may conclude that none of these particles which had settled
> were clay.

We may not conclude that since you didn't provide the distance that
particles in your reference settled in the time you quote. Standard
particle size tests, such as S-14.10 and S-14.20 listed here:

use a 36 cm tall sedimentation cylinder. Importantly, these tests add a
dispersant to the particle/water mix to prevent flocculation and shake the
slurry for 16 hours before settling. So, settling times in your test can't
be compared to those in the one you quote, and can't be used to judge the
clay content of your samples.

>Since there is a marked difference in the settling rate of
> acidified vs. non-acidified slurries, we may conclude that silt is
> subject to accelerated settling in acidified water.

Your conclusion about silt is unsupported. Both acidified and non-acidified
vials may have clays that flocculated; the acidified one seems to have
flocculated more.

>Therefore, Stokes'
> law cannot be applied based strictly upon particle size but must also
> consider the pH of the water.

Yes, but you have not demonstrated that silt is subject to accelerated
settling with low pH.

>I would suspect the degree of salinity may
> also affect settling rates; I'll try to repeat the experiment with
> distilled and salt water, and high pH vs. normal water to see if there is
> any difference in the settling rates of these slurries.

If you are going to do any more experiments, please follow a recognized
The problem is, you won't have acidified water in your floating mat
scenario. You diluted it with rainwater to account for low sulphur coals,
remember? I already showed you that modern salt marshes have sea water that
is in direct contact with the marsh has high pH, so even without rainwater
dilution, you wouldn't have low pH water. This is a typical YEC ad hoc

Oh, and you have not explained the presence of sporinite, which contains
very small spores which would not settle out in your time frame. Let me ask
you a third time: where
is your explanation for beds of sporinite, given that the particle size of
small spores dictates extremely slow settling through a water column? Last
time I asked you I said: "It would be helpful in this debate if you
answered my direct questions, or
said you didn't know or needed more time." Still no response of any kind to
the question.
(snip) Thanks for your patience.

I'm afraid my patience is running out, due to non-responses like the above.

Received on Sat Apr 17 03:30:21 2004

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