"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.
"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 Cretace."
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 significance.
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 Periods.
1838 - Adam Sedgwick first introduces the concept of the Paleozoic Era at a talk before the Geological Society of London.
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" Epoch.
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: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/geo.htm
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]