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Author Topic:   Geologic Column
Bill Birkeland
Member (Idle past 1845 days)
Posts: 165
From: Louisiana
Joined: 01-30-2003

Message 5 of 55 (92923)
03-17-2004 1:10 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by NosyNed
02-13-2004 1:44 PM

Re: A 60 second geologic primer
NosyNed wrote:

"When comparing layers from different places sometimes
you find that a few of the layers from one place match
up with layers from another. The nature of the rocks,
the relationship between them, the kind of fossils in
them and perhaps even some degree of thickness are the
same. However, this new place may add (above or below)
additional layers not found somewhere else.

If site after site (many 1,000's) are examined it
becomes possible to find a clear pattern. Even without
one place with all the layers it is clear what the
sum of all strata would look like. (though there are
places with all or a lot of it in one place).

All of this was done around two centuries ago."

This is a very true and important point. Some Young Earth creationists, i.e. Kent Hovind, don't understand that the concept of a Geologic Column was developed and the vast majority of its individual components were named before Darwin publicly presented his theory of evolution. This completely refutes the claims that the geologic column was constructed either based upon or assuming the validity evolution.

It is also important to note that the geologic column was constructed long before any methods of radiometric dating were developed. Thus, the development of the geologic column occurred independent of either evolutionary theory or radiometric dating. The use of fossils to date strata was practiced long before the possibility of radiometric dating was even conceived, Thus, the claim that radiometric dating and biostratigraphy are somehow circular reasoning is nothing more than sloppy, illogical, and illiterate reasoning on the part of Young Earth creationists. The relationship between radiometric dating, biostratigraphy, and the geologic column is discussed by Andrew MacRae in "Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale" at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html .

The details about the how the geologic column was constructed can be found in:

Berry, W. B. N., 1968, Growth of the Prehistoric Time
Scale. W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco. 158 pp.

The history has been summarized in some posts to talk.origins, including "Re: Did GOD create man? - (Geologic Column, Polystrate Trees, etc.)" by Keith Littleton and posted on 2002-02-25 16:45:40 PST. The timeline for the development of the geologic column given in this talk.origins post is:

"1669 - Steno publishes on principle of superposition

1760 - Professor Antonio Vallisnieri first developed and
described and named the Tertiary and Quaternary Periods.

1795 - Alexander von Humboldt recognizes the "Jura-Kalkstein"
(Jurrasic) as a distinctive rock unit.

1815 - William "strata" Smith publishes "The Geological Map
of England and Wales." Based entirely on his own extensive
field work, this map combines the principle of faunal
succession and principle of superposition to correlate
outcrops of sedimentary strata."

(NOTE: William Smith's research is described in "The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology" (HarperCollins) by Simon Winchester.)

"1822 - d'Omalius d'Halloy, reviewing extensive field studies
of others divides the Secondary rocks of the Paris Basin
into five groups. The uppermost of these he calls "Terrain

1822 - Conybeare and Phillips publish the "Outlines of Geology
of England and Wales. The Carboniferous and Cretaceous Periods
are first formally named.

1833 - H. P. I. Reboul publishes research that points out the
Quaternary Period as being typified by fossils of animals and
plants like those now living.

1833 - Lyell, on the basis of relative percentages of living
versus extinct fossils subdivides the Tertiary into Newer
Pliocene, Older Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene. He examined
40,000 specimens from each of these units to determine the
relative percentage of living to extinct in each.

1834 - Friedrich August von Alberti after an intensive study
of rocks that constitute the salt deposits of Germany
publishes articles that establish the Triassic period as
having a distinctive fossil assemblage with a relative time

1835 - Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison publish "On the
Silurian and Cambrian Systems, exhibiting the order in which
the older sedimentary strata succeed each other in England
and Wales. This publication, based upon years of field
work, by them officially names the Cambrian and Silurian

1838 - Adam Sedgwick first introduces the concept of the
Paleozoic Era at a talk before the Geological Society of

1839 - Leopold von Buch, based on field work going back to
1795, publishes "Uber den Jura in Deutschland." This
publication officially defines the Jurrasic Period and
divides it into upper, middle, and lower subdivisions.

1839 - Lyell renames "Newer Pliocene" as the "Pleistocene"

1839 - Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison jointly propose
the Devonian Period based upon it unique fossil faunas and
principle of superposition which shows that it lies between
previously recognized periods. Contrary to false claims
made by Young Earth creationists, the recognition of this
period, as with the other periods, and its placement has
nothing to do with the relative complexity of fossils.

1840 - John Phillips first uses the terms "Mesozoic Era"
and "Kainozoic (Cenozoic) Era" in an article in the
"Penny Encyclopedia."

1841 - Roderick Murchison publishes paper which defines the
Permian Period. Again, age of this period is based upon
the relative position of these strata between Triassic and
Carboniferous Rocks. This publication is the direct result
of field studies in the Urals near Perm in Russia.

1854 - Heinrich Ernst von Beyrich recognizes and defines the
Oligocene Epoch.

++ (1858 - Darwin's first public presentation on his theory
of evolution) ++

1874 - W. P. Schimper recognizes and names the Paloecene Epoch.

1879 - Lapworth defines the Ordovician Period based upon
his studies of graptolite fossils in North and South Wales."

Of the major subdivisions of the geologic column, the Paleocene and Ordovician are the main significant subdivisions of the geologic column that were named after Darwin published his ideas about evolution as the Pennsylvanian and Mississippian are only North American subdivisions of the Carboniferous. Although individual subdivisions of the geologic column were first recognized mainly in Europe, geologists and paleotologists then went all over the world and studied outcrops to determine whether or not the fossils occurred within the same sequence elsewhere in the world as in Europe. As a result of this research and reconfirmed by innumerable later studies, these scientists found that they did as illustrated by Glenn Morton in "The Geologic Column and Its Implications to the Flood" at:

Finally, Kurt Wise, a well-respected Young Earth creationist paleontologist, had some quite interesting comments on the geologic column in:

Wise, Kurt P. (1986) The Way Geologists Date! in Proceedings of
the First International Conference on Creationism, Section 1, Vol. 2,
Walsh, R.E.; C.L. Brooks; and R.S. Crowell (eds.), Creation Science
Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA.

On pp. 135-136, Dr. Kurt Wise stated:

"Years before Darwin published the "Origin of Species", geologists
had constructed a geologic column very similar to that used
today. As early as the late eighteenth century it began to be
recognized that fossils found below others in one area would be
found beneath the same ones in another area. By the late 1820's
Georges Cuvier had convinced most of the scientific world that
there was a certain inviolable order to the fossils of the world.
Although the types of rock did not always occur in the same
order, the fossils contained within them always would. It became
common to give names to suites of fossils which were always
ound together. Thus arose the names Cambrian, Ordovician,
Silurian, etc., that are found on the current geologic column.

When the theory of evolution was introduced, the order of the
geologic column was not affected appreciably. Since it is not
possible to predict the path of evolution, no change in the column
SHOULD have occurred with the acceptance of evolution -- and no
change did occur. The column also preceded by at least a century
any means of affixing absolute ages. The only methods of "dating"
available in the nineteenth century were those of superpositional
stratigraphy and biostratigraphy. Each of these methods yielded
only relative ages-- that is, younger, older, or the same age as
some reference rock or fossil. When radiometry was introduced a
method of assigning absolute ages had finally arrived. With it,
any defects in the column should have been quickly recognised. No
significant contradictions occurred between the column and
radiometry. Although this may be due to wholesale dishonesty in the
interpretation of radiometric dates, no systematic study has been
done to establish this. As a result, the radiometric dates must be
taken as strong evidence in support of the correctness of the
geologic column."

Progressive creationists, i.e. Dr. Georges Cuvier, accept the existence of the geologic column. Some of them explain it in terms of multiple periods of catastrophic extinctions and supernatural creation of new life forms by divine intervention, a view intensely disliked and considered heretical by many Young Earth creationists.



P.S. the editing done is to correct spelling, links, grammer, and so forth.

P.S.S. Someone needs to point out to Dr. Morris that "Sedgwick" isn't spelled "Sedgewick" as he does in his Acts and Facts article on the geologic column.

[This message has been edited by Bill Birkeland, 03-17-2004]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by NosyNed, posted 02-13-2004 1:44 PM NosyNed has not replied

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