Re: Help - Steve Austin info

Glenn Morton (
Mon, 03 Mar 1997 22:37:47 -0600

Steve Austin has used several things to try to compare St. Helens with the
Grand Canyon. First, in the volcanic ash around St. Helens, there is
layering within the ash. This layering is due to the dynamics of a
turbulent fluid. Austin writes,

" The
June 12, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens produced a hurricane-
velocity, surging-flow of volcanic ash, which accumulated in less
than 5 hours, as twenty-five feet of laminated volcanic ash.
Figure 3.14 shows a portion of that laminated volcanic ash. A lake
in Switzerland, which was thought to accumulate one lamina pair
each year, was shown to accumulate up to five laminae pairs per
year, by a rapid, turbid-water, underflow process. One layer
withing the Swiss lake dates from the year 1811, but was observed
in 1971 to be buried beneath 300 to 360 varvelike silt
laminae."~Steven A. Austin, "Interpreting Strata of Grand Canyon,"
in Steven A. Austin, editor, Grand Canyon: A Monument to
Catastrophe, (Santee: Inst. for Creation Research, 1994), p. 38.

So he tries to say that laminations in the ash are the same as laminations
in varves. By this, he tries to say that varves are not yearly deposits.
Slick trick but terribly wrong. There are major differences between the St.
Helens ash and varves.

1. Varves are made up of two different sedimentary materials which
alternate, such as organic matter and either clay or limstone. The entire
ash is a single lithology---it is ash. The laminations are to solely to
particle size and porosity variations, not a different material.

2. there is pollen found in varves that varies through the two alternating
materials in a cyclical pattern which is indicative of the seasons at which
the flowers bloom. Flint writes

"A rhythmite deposited in a lake near Interlaken in Switzerland
consists of thin couplets each containing a light-colored layer
rich in calcium carbonate and a dark layer rich in organic
matter. Proof that the couplets are annual, and therefore
varves, is established on organic evidence, first recognized by
Heer(1865). The sediment contains pollen grains, whose number
per unit volume of sediment varies cyclically being greatest in
the upper parts of the dark layers. The pollen grains of various
genera are stratified systematically according to the season of
blooming. Finally, diatoms are twice as abundant in the light-
colored layers as in the dark. From this evidence it is
concluded that the light layers represent summer seasons and the
dark ones fall, winter and spring. Counts of the layers indicate
a record that is valid through at least the last 7,000 years B.
P. " ~Richard Foster Flint, Glacial and Quaternary Geology, New
York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1971, p. 400.

You can't find cyclically varying pollen in the Mt. St. Helens ash and Steve
knows this.

Austin further writes:

"The rills and gullies resemble badlands topography, which
geologists have usually assumed required many hundreds or even
thousands of years to form."~Steven A. Austin, "Mount St. Helens
and Catastrophism", Impact, 157, July, 1986, p. ii

Once again this is the erosion of relatively soft volcanic ash. This
material is not like hardened lava (which can take up to 400 years for a
river to incise) I would like to see where some geologist thinks that
volcanic ash would take thousands of years to erode.

"The little 'Grand Canyon of the Toutle River' is a one-fortieth
scale model of the real Grand Canyon. The small creeks which flow
through the headwaters of the Toutle River today might seem, by
present appearances, to have carved these canyons very slowly over
a long time period, except for the fact that the erosion was
observed to have occurred rapidly! Geologists should learn that,
since the long-time scale they have been trained to assign to
landform development would lead to obvious error on Mount St.
Helens, it also may be useless or misleading elsewhere."~Steven A.
Austin, "Mount St. Helens and Catastrophism", Impact, 157, July,
1986, p. ii

To claim that this little canyon is a scale model of the Grand Canyon is
entirely misleading. The Grand Canyon is made of 5000 feet of multiple
lithologies. The layers there are limestone, dolomite, sand, shale each of
which vary in hardness and erodability. Each layer has different fossils in
it.Some layers have footprints of vertebrates on their surfaces. There are
erosional channels in the Esplanade and collapsed caves in the Redwall
limestone. Some of the collapsed caves contain pieces of Chinle formation.
This is the top most horizon in the Grand Canyon area but is only found in
two places at two small hills on the south side of the canyon. The entire
area has been denuded of Chinle. The remnants found in Redwall Limestone
cave breccia throughout the region is evidence of a lot of erosion off the
top of the canyon.

Wenrich and Hunton write:
"The breccia pipes formed as sedimentary strata collapsed
into dissolution caverns in the underlying Mississippian Redwall
Limestone. Upward stoping through the upper Paleozoic and lower
Mesozoic strata, involving units as high as the Triassic Chinle
Formation."~Karen J. Wenrich and Peter W. Hunton, "Breccia Pipes
and Associated mineralization in the Grand Canyon Region,
Northern Arizona," Geology of the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona,
28th Int. Geol. Congress, Field Trip Guide Book, (Washington:
AGU, 1989), p. 212

These filled caves have NO Chinle currently over them yet they occur
throughout the Grand Canyon with a density of 6 per square kilometer!

You can't find any of the above features in the St. Helens ash. There are NO
fossils in the middle of the ash layers; there are thousands of fossils in
the beds at the Grand Canyon. There are NO footprints in the middle of the
ash during the eruption; there are footprints in the Esplanade sandstone and
the Coconino at the Grand Canyon. There are no channels eroded into the
MIDDLE of the ash layer at St. Helen; there are thousands of channels (some
as much as 1000 feet wide) cut into the Supai Group at two different
vertical positions. (See US Geological Professional paper 1173, p. 155-176)

To make the comparison that Steve does is... not fair to those who do not
know geology. They do not know the major differences between what a single
lithology ash bed and a system of varying lithology with varying
sedimentologic patterns and varying diagenetic patterns.

Obviously, this type of misrepresentation upsets me because this is preying
on the minds of people who couldn't possibly know better. If Steve would
say that the comparison is not good but I believe that the Grand Canyon was
deposited in a year, then I would have much less difficulty with what he is


Foundation, Fall and Flood