Re: Polystrate trees

Glenn Morton (
Fri, 14 Feb 1997 22:01:29 -0600

At 06:08 PM 2/14/97, Randy Landrum wrote:

>Polystrate trees which extend through more than one layer (hence the name
>""poly-strate"-meaning "many strata") in effect "tie the layers together"
>into a short period of time. This period of time can't be explicitly
>determimed from the data, but it is wholly imcompatible with the long-age
>model normally taught.
This simply isn't true. As I have mentioned many times trees buried in
riverine floods will become polystrate as long as there were surges in the
current's flow during the burial. This will create layers of sandy shale or
shaly sand etc.

It is not true to say that it is totally incompatible.

>Page 101 The Young Earth by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
>While you are pulling out your copy maybe you should take a look at
>several of the pictures of examples of polystrate tree extending from coal
>to overlying shale, and polystrate tree spanning two narrow coal seams and
>the intervening shale. Photo by Andrew Snelling. Before you ask no I was
>not present for the photos.

Do you read what anyone else writes? A month ago I answered this question.
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 22:21:56
This is what would cause a problem. Polystrate fossils in the sense of going
from one layer into another are not uncommon nor are they to be unexpected. In
1993 the Mississippi River flooded covering parts of Missouri/Iowa/Illinois
with several feet of sand or shale. The trees covered by this flood will in
the future be polystrate fossils. They will be rooted in one horizon and top
out in the 1993 flood horizon. This is a different situation than having a
tree extend through many horizons of coal.

I looked up John Morris's The Young Earth. Morris p. 100 talks about circular
features in the tops of coal mines being the roots of trees. I have no doubt
about this being the case. But these could be formed exactly as the future
polystrates in Missouri were formed. I can even envision a case where a tree
in Missouri growing in an oxbow lake (which is rich in organic material) being
covered by sediments from a local riverine flood and having a new coal form on
top of it. The bottom of the tree would be in one coal and the top be in the
other. This is as follows:


John Morris gives a photo of such a tree "spanning two narrow coal seams and
the intervening shale." This can be explained as could happen with the
Mississippi floods of 1993 where a tree growing in a peat rich swamp was
buried by shale or sand and then the swamp continues above all this. This is
not a case of a polystrate tree going through several seams of coal. His
example does not damage the conventional view of geology. What is needed to
make a problem is for one tree to go through at least 3 coals. I would find
it difficult to explain this situation. Maybe Art Chadwick can think of a
situation where a tree could go through three or more coal seams. I can't.

By the way Morris does not tell us where this fossil is.

Kofahl does not say that they span through more than 2 coal seams. He also
does not say where these are, but they obviously point to Rupke's article. I
would say that Rupke no longer is a young-earth creationist.

I have read but do not own Ackerman's book. I wish I did. I have ordered
Rupke's articles. I thought I had his CRSQ article but have lost it.

>Also on the same page:
>"One polystrate tree might be understood as having been deposited in a
>freakish scenario, but the fact is, the world contains many polystrate
>trees. In coal mines, they are quite common. I have personally been in
>many underground coal mines and with one exception, saw polystrate trees
>or kettles in each of them. Dramatic examples are sometimes fround in
>areas where the coal cross-section is exposed by erosion or by open

A kettle is not a polystrate tree. This is where John's lack of geological
knowledge shows through. A kettle is associated with glacial deposits and
is a hollowed out region in the glacial drift. (see C. M. Rice, Dictionary
of Geological Terms, "Kettles", p. 204.) A kettle bottom is a piece of slate
that falls out of a mine roof.

I know that John goes around calling himself a geologist, but his degree is
an Engineering degree, His Masters was concerned with building a tidal Dam
across the Bay of Fundy and referenced exactly 1 geological book. His PhD
dissertation concerned compressing coaldust into pellets so it could be
burned. It also references exactly 1 geological reference. The degree was
granted by the engineering department, not the geological department.

In 1986 I gave a paper at the Inter. Conf. On Creationism in Pittsburgh.
John came up on stage to challenge what I had just said. He claimed to have
been in the oil indistry. I asked him what oil company he had worked for.
I am going to let an account of this published in the Skeptical Inquirer in
late 86 or early 87. It was written by Robert Schadewald. He writes,

"John Morris went to the microphone and identified himself as a petroleum
geologist. He questioned Morton's claim that pollen grains are found in salt
formations, and accused Morton of sounding like an anticreationist, raising
more problems than his critics could respond to in the time available.
Morris said that the ICR staff is working on these problems all the time.
He told Morton to quit raising problems and start solving them.
"Morton chopped him off at the ankles. Two questions, said Morton:
'What oil company did you work for?' Well, uh, actually Morris never worked
for an oil company, but he once taught petroleum engineering at the
University of Oklahoma. Second, How old is the Earth?' 'If the earth is
more than 10,000 years old then Scripture has no meaning.' Morton then said
that he had hired several graduates of Christian Heritage College, and that
all of them suffered severe crises of faith. The were utterly unprepared to
face the geologic facts every petroleum geologist deals with on a daily
basis. Morton neglected to add that ICR is much better known for ignoring
or denying problems than dealing with them."

I have the encounter on video tape and it can be purchased from the ICC in
Pittsburgh. Why would a guy try to say he was in the oil industry when he

Just so if you have the curiosity to look this up, pollen is found in salt see

Ulrich Jux, The Palynologic Age of Diapiric and
Bedded Salt, Department of Conservation, Louisiana Geological
Survey, Geological Bulletin 38, October, 1961, p. 1

"Chronologic relationships between many sediments are based upon
microfossils such as ostracods, forams or conodonts. But in rock
salt and other related evaporitic sediments, these reliable zone
markers are almost entirely absent. Apparently the brine was not
receptive to such animal life during the saturation process. But
those organic particles distributed by wind over the evaporite
basins are excellently preserved in a salt producing environment.
The residue consists mainly of pollen grains and spores."~Wilhelm
Klaus, "Utilization of Spores in Evaporite Studies", in Jon L.
Rau and Louis F. Dellwig, editors, Third Symposium on Salt,
(Cleveland: The Northern Ohio Geological Society, Inc., 1970), p.

So Morris was wrong in 1986. Pollen grains are found in salt.

>Again page 101 of The Young Earth by John D. Morris, Ph. D.
>And another paragraph:
>"Everywhere we looked, we found polystrate fossils protruding up through
>several limestone layers each. These were not large trees, but fossilized
>reed-like creatures called Calamities, in some cases up to six inches in
>diameter, but usually just an inch or so. These segmented "stems" were
>evendently quite fragile once dead, for they are usually found in tiny
>fragments. Obviously, the limestones couldn't have accumulated slowly and
>gradually around a still-growing organism, but must have been quite
>rapidly deposited in a series of underwater events."

Randy, John Morris does not give any locations for these things. In this
last citation, John says of the location "In one location in Oklahoma,..."
That is it! I grew up in Oklahoma and I can tell you, it is a big place and
it would be extremely difficult to find the location that John is referring
to, if it even exists. A creationist should know that people would want to
check on the facts and so they should provide documentation and locations.
Morris never does this very simple thing which would bolster his case. A
gentleman who says he is a geologist and was in the oil industry, but who
isn't and wasn't needs to have his statements verified beforebelieving them.
If you don't give locations, how can one go look and see if John is
correct? I can say the third planet around alpha centauri is made of sour
cream, but you can't check me out. Science allows the possibility of
checking on the facts.


Foundation, Fall and Flood