fossilized redwoods (florissant fossils beds NM)

From: Duff,Robert Joel <>
Date: Sat Aug 21 2004 - 22:39:39 EDT

It has been nice to see this list discussing topics other than creation science the last few months. However, I couldn’t resist relaying a recent experience I had on a family vacation to Colorado. Coming out of Colorado Springs we stopped at Florissant Fossils Beds National Monument. It was far more interesting that I had expected. For those of you not familiar, FFBNM is about 8200 feet a.s.l. The attraction is the worlds largest fossilized tree trunk and some of the best fine detail insect and plant specimens in the world (30-40 million year old material) (see picts at:


I did what I often do at these sites, I tried to imagine the YEC explanation for what I was directly observing. This site in particular struck me particularly interesting. The tree stumps were huge with the largest one being over 10 feet in diameter. A second cluster of three stumps that represent clones of each other (ie connected at the base) is even more impressive. I took pictures in which you can clearly count over 100 rings in one of the smaller tree stumps. The largest tree was thought to be over 1000 years old when it was encased in a mud flow.


I was especially interesting in the fossilized trees given the discussion of polystrate trees over recent years on this list. The geological context of these trees is particularly fascinating. FFBNM essentially preserves the remains of a inland mountain fresh water lake basin. The history of the basin seems to be one in which there was a redwood forest which was inundated by a large mad/ash flow from a local volcanic event up to about 14 feet in depth. After the mudflow the valley was blocked off and a lake created in which many years of sediment and ash falls preserved insects and fish in the layers above where the fossilized redwoods now are found. Presumably the redwoods would have died while encased in mud and then covered by a lake. Most of the stumps are preserved only to the top of the mudstone layer (14 feet in depth). The tops of the trees simply rotten down to that point of contact where the mud created excellent preservation. I particularly noted and asked about the roots of these trees. Being in organic soil under the mudflow their preservation was rather poor. Nonetheless the appearance of these trees having been preserved in the place they stood seems very obvious.


Not only does the preservation of the trees only in the ~14 feet of mudstone in upright interesting but the context of the valley even more intriguing. The fossils and rocks of the area are very young and sit upon fairly young volcanics and are at a high elevation. It was seem fairly clear that this fresh water basin would be interepreted as post flood by a YEC especially if they posit the uplift of the rockies to be post flood. If that is the case then the presence of these trees could be explained as some sort of post flood event that preserved them. But, here is what I find really challenging to the YEC advocate: when did these 1000+ year old redwood grow? Even if one compressed rings to multiples per year these trees were huge and were 500 year old at a minimum. Since I believe it is apparent they grew in place the YEC timeline would have to have the mountain valley formed for habitat for these redwoods after the flood, then 500 years of growth at least for the trees, followed by the formation of a lake by additional volcanic activity and 20-50 feet of sediments deposited in the lake (only fossils representing nearly modern organisms are found here which any YEC should see as supporting a post-flood origin). Then a complete change in environment possibly due to continued uplift of the rocky mountains and then erosion of the areas to what we see today which is probably been very similar for several thousand years as witnessed by the presence of Indian artifacts in the area. If we throw in an ice age lasting until about 400 years after the flood then the redwood forest probably didn’t even start to grow until at least that point.


Nothing new here other than just another example of a difficult timeline for the YEC. I just found the presence of 1000 year old redwoods preserved at high elevations in the Rockies an example I hadn’t heard of before. I did some searching and have been unable to find any writing by a YEcreationists that deals with these famous fossilized trees.


I’ve put some pictures of the trees and the tree rings here:




Received on Sat Aug 21 23:24:13 2004

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