LK1 Sedimentation > LK1 Sedimentation



Lithification, complex process whereby freshly deposited loose grains of sediment are converted into rock. Lithification may occur at the time a sediment is deposited or later. Cementation is one of the main processes involved, particularly for sandstones and conglomerates. In addition, reactions take place within a sediment between various minerals and between minerals and the fluids trapped in the pores; these reactions, collectively termed authigenesis, may form new minerals or add to others already present in the sediment. Minerals may be dissolved and redistributed into nodules and other concretions, and minerals in solution entering the sediment from another area may be deposited or may react with minerals already present. The sediment may be compacted by rearrangement of grains under pressure, reducing pore space and driving out interstitial liquid.

Lithification is the process by which sediment turns into hardened rock. There are three ways in which lithification can occur. These processes are called compaction, recrystallization and cementation.

Compaction is a process of lithification that works for finer particles only. Compaction occurs when particles such as clay minerals are compressed. Coarser particles are not able to be hardened with this process because compression does not make them stick together.

Minerals such as limestone and aragonite can harden through the process of recrystallization. These minerals are easily dissolved in water, and the crystals that form from those dissolved minerals are much harder than the original substances.

Cementation is the process where coarser grain sediments become hardened rock. Water fills into the empty space between the particles, and the ions in the water create new crystalline formations among the sediments. When the water evaporates, the sediment eventually seals and hardens, leaving behind a solid piece of rock.

The creation of new minerals during the cementation process is an example of authigenesis. Authigenesis is a term that describes a process in which new minerals are created inside a rock, or that the deposited minerals react and combine with the minerals already present in the rock or sediment.

sedimentary rock

Cementation, in geology, hardening and welding of clastic sediments (those formed from preexisting rock fragments) by the precipitation of mineral matter in the pore spaces. It is the last stage in the formation of a sedimentary rock. The cement forms an integral and important part of the rock, and its precipitation affects the porosity and permeability of the rock. Many minerals may become cements; the most common is silica (generally quartz), but calcite and other carbonates also undergo the process, as well as iron oxides, barite, anhydrite, zeolites, and clay minerals.

It is unclear just how and when the cement is deposited. Part seems to originate within the formation, and part seems to be brought in from outside by circulating waters.

The reverse process is called dissolution. There is evidence that dissolution has occurred in calcareous sandstones, in which case the calcareous cement or grains are broken down in the same manner as the solution of limestones. The frosted and etched surfaces of quartz grains in some friable and loosely cemented sandstones seem to indicate the former presence of a carbonate cement that has been leached.

(William Deering Professor
and Institute for Policy Research Associate
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Room F498, 2145 Sheridan Road
Northwestern University,  Evanston, IL 60208-3130
Telephone: (847) 491-5265   FAX:(847) 491-8060
email: seth AT
(substitute "@" for AT) GEOLOGY 107 Our Dynamic Planet Fall 2005)

Absence of compaction, intraformational breccias, resedimention, internal sediments and synsedimentary hardgrounds indicate early lithification of finegrained carbonate rocks. One of the factors controlling early lithification is the purity of lime mud. Less than 2% of insoluble residue (especially clay minerals) favours cementation and recrystallisation before further sediment accumulation causes compaction. Thus, early lithification is terminated in or near the environment of sedimentation. “Electrodiagenesis” is considered to be a possible mechanism for cementation.

Possible role of electrical currents and potentials during diagenesis
Experimental work by the writers suggests that electrical currents and potentials affect some diagenetic processes; this may be termed "electrodiagenesis." It was discovered that currents (produced chiefly by ionic exchange processes) flowing through sediments may stimulate cementation and the formation of authigenic minerals such as gibbsite, limonite, calcite, hydrohematite, hydrogoethite (lepidocrocite), hisingerite, allophane, allophanoid, gypsum, hematite, magnetite, nontronite, trona, and natron (Na 2 CO 3 .10H 2 0). Currents may also cause selective ion drive and explain zonation of some trace elements, various minerals, etc.

Dr. George V. Chilingarian
Engineer and Scientist
Petroleum Engineering and Geology
- 1951–1952.  Proposed utilization of electrophoretic phenomen on for separation of very fine grained sediments into grades. Proved plating theory of chemicals which reduce viscosity of muds.
- Possible Role of Electrical Currents and Potentials during Diagenesis
(“Electrodiagenesis”). J. Sediment. Petrology, June 1967, pp. 695–698.
- 1956–1968. Worked on electrochemical stabilization of weak grounds, and
electrical dewatering. Discovered that clays are destroyed on application of
electrical current. Showed formation of new minerals in the process. Coined a new
term “Electrodiagenesis” which explains some previously unexplained phenomena.
- 1956–1968. Pioneered high-pressure compaction studies of sediments in USA.
His pressure verse porosity curves are used extensively in petroleum industryelectrical logging, subsidence, etc.. Showed that chemistry of solutions squeezed out of clays changes with pressure. Established pressures at which oriented water begins to be squeezed out, and proposed a new theory of migration of oil. Showed possibility of estimating overburden pressure from X-ray analysis.
- 1956–1968. Worked on electrochemical stabilization of weak grounds, and
electrical dewatering. Discovered that clays are destroyed on application of
electrical current. Showed formation of new minerals in the process. Coined a new
term “Electrodiagenesis” which explains some previously unexplained phenomena.
- Established definite correlation between porosity and permeability of carbonate rocks (microfractured) by introducing two additional variables-specific surface area and irreducible fluid saturation.
- His work on carbonate reservoir rocks was pioneering as evidenced by the
publication of the first books on the subject. For example, he proved that in many
cases dolomitization gives rise to porosity. Also, he showed that many carbonates
are oil-wet, at a time when most petroleum engineers and geologists believed that
all rocks are water-wet.
- Through extensive laboratory experiments he proposed the use of electric current in well stimulation and in secondary and tertiary oil recovery.
- He showed that sands are just as compactable as clays.
- It is well established that in many cases there is very poor correlation between
porosity and permeability. Yet; if one uses Professor Chilingarian's definition of
“effective porosity,” namely, porosity excluding pores and cracks occupied by the
irreducible fluid, then there is indeed a very good correlation between “effective
porosity” and permeability.


Minerals in Sediments
(c) Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5A9
Three sedimentary rocks are important volumetrically. They are: MUDSTONE(shale), SANDSTONE, and LIMESTONE. These very common rocks contain a very limited set of 5 or 6 minerals:
Quartz ................ m)32 .. s)70 .. l)4
Feldspar ............. m)18 .. s)8 .... l)2
Clay Minerals ...... m)34 .. s)9 .... l)1
Calcite/Dolomite . m)8 .... s)11 .. l)93
Iron Oxides ........ m)5 ..... s)1 .... l)-
- Calcite, silica and iron oxides are the main cements that bind sedimentary rocks. Iron oxides in very small quantities can be responsible for red, orange and green colouration in sedimentary rocks. Fine grained rocks such as shales and mudstones usually appear dark grey to black. Black shales may contain significant amounts of organic carbon.

Diagenesis of Sandstones
This chapter concerns the diagenetic modification of sands following deposition, such modifications occurring as progressive stages. Redoxomorphic (oxidation-reduction) reactions involving iron in particular characterize early burial. Locomorphic changes (cementation and mineral replacement) involving primarily silica and carbonates are typical of lithification. The phyllomorphic stage (authigenesis of micas and feldspars) is a late burial feature. Chemical reactions which occur during each of the three stages of diagenesis result in equilibrium mineral assemblages which are considered to identify the pH and Eh of the interstitial fluids. Shifts in the direction of equilibria are indicated by corresponding changes in the mineral assemblage. Although a secondary mineralogy characterizes most of the diagenetic progression there may be also removal of detrital mineral matter to produce a simple residual mineralogy, and special granular intersutured textures.

Lithification of shale occurs as a result of the compaction and cementation of wet mud.
(c) Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5A9
Randomly oriented clay particles in the deposited sediment are reoriented as water is expelled during compaction. The compaction results from the increased load of newly deposited sediment. As the water content is reduced the pore-waters become more concentrated and cement is deposited from solution. Splitting surfaces form normal to the loading direction and parallel to the orientation of the platey clay minerals.

Porosity, Cement and Packing
(c) Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5A9
- The ability of rocks to store (porosity) and transmit (permeability) fluids is one of the most important properties of sediments in economic and engineering terms. Sediments at the time of deposition are extremely porous with very high volumes of voids (space) per unit volume of sediment.
- Cementation tends to reduce pore volume (porosity) and pore interconnection (permeability). Calcite, silica and iron oxides are the common cements in sediments.
- If pore space is infilled by finer sediments, both porosity and permeability are reduced massively. Clean sands free from fines (silt and clay) make the best aquifers and reservoir rocks. Dirty sands have the porosity plugged by fine particles.

- Geology and Geochemistry of Oil and Gas

GY 111 Lecture Notes
D. Haywick (2008-09) 1
Lecture Goals
A) The sedimentary portion of the rock cycle
B) Cementation
C) Compaction

... to consider the processes by which sediment is converted into sedimentary rock ... we first have to consider the grain size of the sediment and where the sediment is in relation to the water table. Coarse grained sediment (gravel and sand) is most likely to be lithified through the action of cementation. In some cases, cementation can occur at the surface of the Earth, but it primarily takes place underground below the water table in the zone of saturation. In contrast, fine grained sediment (mud, silt and clay) normally remains unlithified until it has been buried much deeper. Here, the weight of the overlying sediment (the overburden) compresses the mud into shale or siltstone

B) Cementation
Groundwater can contain a significant amount of dissolved ions like Ca++, Mg++, Na+, CO3--, Fe++, SiO4++++ etc. Under the right conditions, these ions can get together to form new chemical precipitates like calcite, hematite, quartz, chert or any combination of minerals. The cementation process can be relatively fast (weeks) or incredibly slow (millions of years). It can completely fill the pore space (pervasive cementation) or only be sporadic. Partially cemented pore space results in friable sedimentary rocks that eas[il]y fall apart when handled. ... The best way to appreciate the nature of the cements in sedimentary rocks is to exam[ine] them under a geological microscope. Samples of rock are sliced very thin (0.03 mm thick) so that they are transparent in transmitted light. In these rock thin-sections, grains and cements are easily distinguished because different minerals have different optical properties. The image to the left is a view of a sedimentary rock in thin section. Three grains in the field of view (approximately 2 mm across) are dark brown in color. The pore space between them is filled by 2 generations of calcite cement. The first completely surrounds the grains. The second filled in the remaining pore space. This is an example of a calcite cemented sedimentary rock. ...

C) Compaction When mud is initially deposited, it is water saturated. Indeed, up to 80% of the volume of freshly deposited mud (say on a river flood plain or in a lagoon4) is water. As this material gets buried under additional sediment, compaction causes the mud to dewater. The pore water passes either laterally or upwards as burial proceeds and over time, the volume of the mud decreases significantly. At the same time, the fine sediment that comprises the mud is compressed together. Silt-sized sediment is usually composed of quartz and feldspars and consequently, is equidimensional as far as grain shape is concerned. The clay sized sediment is actually composed of clay minerals like kaolinite. Clay minerals are phyllosilicates and ... silicate structures ... are platy....
Compaction causes the clays and silt-sized grains to squish into one another. This results in a form of lithification, but it is seldom as strong as cementation. Moreover, it tends to really emphasize the horizontal layering of the original mud. This is why shales are relatively soft and fissile rocks. ... Under metamorphic conditions, the grains are compacted so much that they actually change their orientation. That means that they are no longer shales.

[There is] high contrast between the lithification rate of a shaly-dominated basal complex and the overlying calcareous succession during the D1 deformation. In fact in an underwater environment the diagenesis process is a combination of mechanical compaction and chemical reactions; in the case of the shales the last ones are not time-dependent and start with temperatures higher than 70 e 80 C, corresponding to a few kilometers depth (Hower et al., 1976; Bruce, 1984), while for the fine-grained carbonates the cementation can be a process closely following the deposition (Lasemi et al., 1990). Consequently, during the D1 phase the shales could be still unconsolidated, while the calcareous flysch succession was already lithified.
2. Beachrock: sea-level related characteristics
Beachrock is a lithified coastal deposit where lithification is a function of CO3− 2 ion concentration in seawater, microbial activity and degassing of CO2 from seaward flowing groundwater. Field experiments (e.g., Hanor, 1978) and coastal observations (e.g., Hopley, 1986) suggest that cementation occurs within a few decades where suitable coastal morphology provides sufficient accommodation space for soft sediment to settle.
2.2. The cement

The cement by which the loose sand is locked into position is indicative of the nearshore zone between shoreface and beach, at the interface between seawater and meteoric water (Fig. 2). The interface is the mixing zone, the chemically most active zone, where beachrock forms. The zone is characterised by a pore fluid that is a mixture of different end-member solutions (Moore, 1973), originating from the adjacent environments (e.g., hypersaline waters from sabkhas; meteoric water from groundwater). The chemical characteristics of the solutions, in particular acidity and under- or supersaturation with respect to calcite, control the precipitation of the carbonate mineral when the initial pCO2 falls due to degassing ( Plummer, 1975 and Meyers, 1987). As a carbonate mineral will only precipitate from a solution that is supersaturated with respect to this mineral, the mixing of the groundwater and seawater must result in supersaturation. Plummer (1975) showed that for this to happen the mixture must contain more than 50% seawater, the end-member solutions are in equilibrium with calcite and the pCO2 drops below 10− 2 atm (Fig. 3A). The higher the temperature, the less seawater is required to achieve supersaturation (Fig. 3B) and the more CO2 escapes, the higher the pH and the faster carbonate minerals can precipitate. Thus, the sediment layer that is closest to the water table will cement first and fastest and preferred areas of the layer are those where microbes are active (Neumeier, 1998). If the end-member solution contains Mg2 +, high magnesian calcite (HMC) precipitates and the typical crystal form of this mineral is bladed or granular (Fig. 4A) or it is micritic when microbes are involved in the precipitation (Neumeier, 1998). The higher the temperature of the solution, the faster aragonite precipitates relative to calcite (Burton and Walter, 1987) and the crystal form the cement takes is mostly fibrous (Fig. 4B). Crystal arrangement and fabric is controlled by environment and gravitation. HMC and aragonite form circumgranular rim in meniscus fabric in the vadose environment (Fig. 4C) or symmetrical crusts in the meteoric environment. In most beachrocks the pore space is not completely occluded but is filled with mosaic fabric and may remain empty in the centre. Fig. 2 depicts the spatial relationship between carbonate cementation zones and Table 1 provides the details of the cement types in terms of crystal form, size and fabric.
Diagenesis takes place in the subsurface in response to a change in water-table elevation, temperature or pressure. Diagenesis involves processes such as dissolution, reprecipitation and recrystallisation and the end-point of these processes is chemical stability. The process follows the relative thermodynamic stability of magnesian calcite and aragonite and the chemistry of the pore fluid. The thermodynamic calculations reveal the metastability of aragonite with respect to calcite, and of magnesian calcite with respect to calcite and dolomite (Morse and Mackenzie, 1990). Most effective in terms of creating the end-members calcite and dolomite is the infiltration of meteoric water depleting the cement in Mg, Sr and Na and enriching it with other elements (e.g., Fe2 +). Dissolution and subsequent creation of secondary porosity can occur through infiltration of meteoric water where the dissolution capacity of the water is largely controlled by the amount of dissolved CO2 and the permeability of the arenite frame resulting often in moulds and vugs. These can be later filled with marine cement or intraclasts.
Table 2.
Description of beachrock samples dated using the OSL technique. The model used to determine the equivalent dose (De) is listed in Table 4.
Sample code (LV); Origin; Coordinates;
De (median)±σ (Gy); De (model, Gy); OSL age (ka,±1σ)
249   E-Mediterranean (Levant)   
34.49E   1.20±0.33   1.1±0.1      2.3±0.1
365   Levant   
34.56E   84±2      85±1      113±5
404   Levant   
34.57E   0.51±0.02   0.51±0.02   1.01±0.06
426   Iberia (Torre Vieja)   
00.42E   79±4      73±5      83±6
493   Gulf of Gabès   
10.55E   3.37±0.09   3.3±0.1      4.3±0.2
494   Gulf of Gabès   
10.56E   80±3      82±3      106±4
565   E-Arabia (Oman)   
59.56E   50±3      48±3      80±3
- Table 3.
Analytical data used for OSL age estimation. For details on age modelling of carbonate-rich sediments see Nathan and Mauz (2008).
Sample code (LV); Grain size (μm);
Water content (%); U (μg g− 1); Th (μg g− 1); K (wt.%)   
View the MathML sourceD.cosm (Gy ka− 1)   Carbonate (%)
249   180–250   8±3   
0.399±0.018   0.626±0.063   0.169±0.010   0.212±0.010   71±4
365   150–200   5±3   
1.353±0.036   0.763±0.058   0.227±0.010   0.153±0.008   60±3
404   200–250   5±3   
0.247±0.012   0.288±0.069   0.194±0.010   0.21±0.01   65±4
426   200–250   5±2   
1.156±0.032   1.785±0.069   0.474±0.014   0.21±0.01   75±4
493   200–300   5±2   
1.440±0.035   0.765±0.039   0.072±0.006   0.21±0.01   87±5
494   90–150   6±2   
1.732±0.045   0.679±0.058   0.201±0.010   0.098±0.004   69±4
565   200–300   5±2   
1.708±0.045   0.796±0.085   0.122±0.009   0.172±0.009   90±3
A comparison between ages obtained from radiocarbon and OSL dating techniques shows systematically lower OSL age values regardless of the calibration curve used for radiocarbon, the differences within 14C or whether whole rock or shell was used (Bosman, 2012). Ages obtained from mollusc shells tend to agree better with quartz OSL ages (Bosman, 2012). As such, careful selection of the material used for radiocarbon dating can circumvent the effect of old carbon and diagenesis (e.g., Desruelles et al., 2009).
The cementation rate is most rapid in the landward side of the beachrock formation zone where large carbonate crystals fill pore space and bind components within the space of years to decades. Thus, before burial the sediment is already lithified and is likely not subject to compaction that would be significant enough to impact on the vertical precision of the SLIP.

Sedimentation experiments: Nature finally catches up!
by Andrew Snelling

The significance of this research has been repeatedly pointed out by creationist geologists. On June 12, 1980 a 25 foot (7.6 m) thick stratified pyroclastic layer accumulated within a few hours below the Mt St Helens volcano (Washington, USA) as a result of pyroclastic flow deposits amassed from ground-hugging, fluidised, turbulent slurries of volcanic debris which moved at high velocities off the flank of the volcano when an eruption plume collapsed (see Figure 2).7 Close examination of this layer revealed that it consisted of thin laminae of fine and coarse pumice ash, usually alternating, and sometimes cross-bedded. That such a laminated deposit could form catastrophically has been confirmed by Berthault’s sedimentation experiments and applied to a creationist understanding of the Flood-deposition of thinly laminated shale strata of the Grand Canyon sequence.8 Berthault’s experimental work and its implications have also been featured on videos.9,10

Figure 2: Fine layering was produced within hours at Mt St Helens on June 12, 1980 by hurricane velocity surging flows from the crater of the volcano. The 25-foot thick (7.6 m), June 12 deposit is exposed in the middle of the cliff. It is overlain by the massive, but thinner, March 19,1982 mudflow deposit, and is underlain by the air-fall debris from the last hours of the May 18, 1980, nine-hour eruption.


Rapid rocks: Granites … they didn’t need millions of years of cooling
by Andrew Snelling and John Woodmorappe

An oft-repeated objection to the earth’s being only 6,000–7,000 years old is that large bodies of magma (molten rock) supposedly require millions of years to accumulate and cool inside the earth’s upper crust to form granites.1,2,3 Exposed at the earth’s surface today due to erosion, these large bodies of granites (plutons) sometimes cover hundreds of square kilometres. It is thought that up to 86% of the once-molten rocks which have intruded into the upper crust are granites.
Rapid injection

Deep in the lower crust, the temperatures sometimes reach 700–900°C. This is high enough to melt the rocks locally, particularly if there are high pressures, thus generating large ‘blobs’ of granitic magmas. Recent research indicates that the amount of water which can dissolve in granitic magmas increases with depth because of increased pressure.4Thus more than 10% of the magma weight may be dissolved water.

Once molten, the ‘blobs’ of magma are ‘lighter’ than the surrounding rocks so the magma tries to rise, not slowly as large ‘blobs’ as once thought, but squeezed through fractures to be rapidly injected into the upper crust.5,6 The water in the magma makes it less viscous (more fluid), greatly helping its flow into and along fractures.7 Calculations indicate that the magma could ascend at more than 800m per day.5 At that rate, the 6,000 cubic kilometre Cordillera Blanca pluton of north-west Peru could have been formed by magma injected from more than 30km depth through a 6m wide and 10 km long fracture conduit in only 350 years.5

Plutons exposed at the earth’s surface were once thought to extend many kilometres down into the lower crust. This would imply that an enormous amount of heat needed to be dissipated as the original magmas cooled, thus requiring millions of years. However, geophysical investigations have revealed that many plutons are only a few kilometres thick, and some are made up of thin (100–1,000m) sheets stacked on top of one another8,9—for example, the Harney Peak Granite pluton that includes Mt Rushmore in the Black Hills, South Dakota, where the famous president’s heads are carved.9 This discovery of itself greatly diminishes the cooling ‘problem.’
Rapid water cooling

Research has also shown that the higher the water content of a magma, the faster it will cool.10 This is simply explained. As the magma cools and the granite crystallizes, the contained water comes out of solution. But it is still very hot and confined as steam by the surrounding cooling granite, and the country rock. As continued cooling occurs and more water is released, the pressure inside the forming pluton increases to the point where the water can no longer be confined, so it is driven by the heat outwards towards the crystallized granite at the pluton’s margins and escapes into the surrounding country rocks by fracturing the granite.11 In so doing it takes heat with it outwards along fractures also in the country rocks (Figure 1). At the same time, cooler water in the country rocks can seep inwards into the pluton, where it is heated and then circulates out again, taking more heat energy with it. Thus what is known as hydrothermal circulation is established.12 As the cooling front advances deeper and deeper into the heart of the hot pluton, the cracking and hydrothermal circulation also move inwards, and thus the pluton rapidly cools.

Figure 1. Cooling of a pluton by (a) conduction and (b) convection. The sizes of the arrows are proportional to the rate of heat flow to the surface. Convection dissipates the heat along fractures very quickly.

Previously, it had been assumed that cooling of plutons was only by way of conduction. So it is not surprising that calculations suggested millions of years were needed (Figure 1). That process can be likened to the cooling of a hot potato which is surrounded by a thick blanket. The heat from inside the potato takes a lot of time to work its way to the surface of the potato, and then to work its way through the blanket. Now suppose that we remove the blanket. The potato will cool more rapidly. Now let us slice the potato. Immediately, we see steam come out, and rise in a column. This indicates that not only is heat rapidly leaving the potato, but the heat transfer now is mostly by convection. It is the circulation of air near the potato which is largely responsible for its cooling. Of course, if we want to cool the potato still faster, we can pour ice-cold water into it after we slice it.

In many ways, the buried pluton is like that hot potato. If only conductive cooling is allowed, heat can only work its way out slowly from within the pluton, through the thick layers of rock enclosing it, and to the surface (Figure 1). Now consider what would happen if the thick layers of enclosing rocks became ****. Water would naturally percolate through the rocks, and this would speed up the cooling of the pluton. The very heat supplied by the pluton would help drive the circulation of water, and hence the ‘carrying-away’ of the pluton’s own heat (Figure 1). Now let us take the analogy of the potato further. Permit not only the surrounding rock layers to crack, but also allow the pluton itself to crack as it cools. This makes it possible for ground water to percolate right into the hottest regions of the very interior of the ‘hot potato’ pluton.

How rapidly then does cooling occur? Based on mathematical cooling models, the time to cool a large pluton falls from several million years to only a few thousand, at most.12,1314 The most recent models actually enable the cooling to be computer-simulated,15,16 but the timescale for cooling is still only hundreds to a few thousand years, depending on the sizes of plutons.14
Cracking and cooling

Is there evidence that ancient plutons have been largely cooled by convective water cooling? Definitely. The rock layers in contact with granites often contain chemicals which show that water has been greatly involved in cooling of the granites.17,18 Virtually all plutons are dissected by cracks of various sizes.14 In fact, it is next to impossible to locate uncracked granites! Many granitic bodies contain mineral-filled cracks, clearly proving that water has once flowed through them (the minerals crystallized out from a water solution). Furthermore, under special lighting, seemingly-intact granite samples show previously-filled channels between the major mineral components.19 Some granitic minerals, such as quartz, show evidence of having cooled under fluctuating temperatures. This is all consistent with rapid water-induced cooling, not slow-and-even cooling over millions of years.
A large granite body will heat to boiling point only about its equivalent mass in water.

To begin with, the amount of heat to be dissipated by rapidly-cooling plutons is not great. A large granite body will heat to boiling point only about its equivalent mass in water. This means that there is plenty of water on earth to have carried away the heat of cooling plutons. Most of the earth’s water would be unaffected by the heat of the world’s plutons undergoing cooling during and shortly after the biblical Flood. Nor would rapidly-cooling plutons cause excessive local heating. Simple computations show that the heat given off at the surface by a large granite body cooling in 3000 years would be only half the rate of the heat emitted in a modern geothermal field in Iceland.20

Millions of years are not necessary for the formation and cooling of granite plutons. New evidence shows that thick plutons are not the result of one-time slow intrusion of great amounts of magma into the earth’s upper crust. Instead, they are the result of rapidly-injected coalescing sheets of magma. Each of these sheets probably at least partly cooled independent of the other sheets, thereby greatly accelerating cooling. Less than 3,000 years would be needed to cool most plutons, and the vital ingredient is water in the magma and in the surrounding rocks. Thus the timescale and conditions for the formation and cooling of granites are totally consistent with a 6,000–7,000 year-old earth and a global cataclysmic flood 4,500–5,000 years ago.

References and notes
    Young, D.A. , Creation and the Flood: An Alternative to Flood Geology and Theistic Evolution, Baker, Michigan, 1977. [Young was an old-earth creationist, who has since departed even further from Scripture and become a theistic evolutionist.] Return to text.
    Hayward, A., Creation and Evolution: The Facts and the Fallacies, Triangle SPCK, London, 1985. [Hayward, a Christadelphian and old-earth creationist, denies the deity of Christ.] Return to text.
    Strahler, A.N., Science and Earth History—the Evolution/Creation Controversy, Prometheus, New York, 1987. [Prometheus is an overtly atheistic publishing house.] Return to text.
    Johannes W. and Holtz, F., Petrogenesis and Experimental Petrology of Granitic Rocks, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1996. Note that water will not boil away, even at temperatures many times its normal boiling point, if the confining pressures are high enough. Return to text.
    Petford, N, Kerr, R.C. and Lister, J.R., Dike transport of granitoid magmas, Geology 21:845–848, 1993. Return to text.
    Petford, N., Dykes or diapirs?, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences 87:105–114, 1996. Return to text.
    Rutter E.H. and Neumann, D.H.K., Experimental deformation of partially molten Westerly Granite under fluid-absent conditions, with implications for extraction of granitic magmas, J. Geophysical Research 100:585–607, 1995. Return to text.
    Hamilton, W. and Myers, W., The Nature of Batholiths, United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 554C, 1967. Return to text.
    Norton, J.J. and Redden, J.A., Relations of zoned pegmatites to other pegmatites, granite, and metamorphic rocks in the southern Black Hills, South Dakota, American Mineralogist 75:631–655, 1990. Return to text.
    Spera, F.J., Thermal evolution of plutons: a parameterized approach, Science 207:299–301, 1982. Return to text.
    Candela, P.A., Physics of aqueous phase evolution in plutonic environments, American Mineralogist 76:1081–1091, 1991. Return to text.
    Cathles, L.M., An analysis of the cooling of intrusives by ground-water convection which includes boiling, Economic Geology 72:804–826, 1977. Return to text.
    Cathles, L.M., Fluid-flow and genesis of hydrothermal ore deposits, Economic Geology: 75th Anniversary Volume, B.J. Skinner (ed.), pp. 424–457, 1981. Return to text.
    Snelling, A.A. and Woodmorappe, J., The cooling of thick igneous bodies on a young Earth, Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism, R.E. Walsh (ed.), Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pp. 527–545, 1998. Return to text.
    Ingebritsen, S.E. and Hayba, D.O., Fluid flow and heat transport near the critical point of H2O, Geophysical Research Letters 21:2199–2202, 1994. Return to text.
    Hayba, D.O. and Ingebritsen, S.E., Multiphase groundwater flow near cooling plutons, J. Geophysical Research102:12235–12252, 1997. Return to text.
    Parmentier, E.M., Numerical experiments on 18O depletion in igneous intrusions cooling by groundwater convection, J. Geophysical Research 86:7131–7144, 1981. Return to text.
    Magaritz, M. and Taylor, H.P., Oxygen 18/oxygen 16 and D/H studies of plutonic granitic and metamorphic rocks across the Cordilleran batholiths of southern British Columbia, J. Geophysical Research 91:2193–2217, 1986. Return to text.
    Sprunt, E.S. and Nur, A., Microcracking and healing in granites: new evidence from cathodoluminescence, Science205:495–497, 1979. Return to text.
    Björnnsson, H. , Björnnsson, S. and Sigurgeirsson, T. , Penetration of water into hot rock boundaries of magma at Grí­msvötn, Nature 295:580–581, 1982. Return to text.


CMI presents geological ‘misinformation’?
31 March 2002; reposted and updated 23 March 2006

This negative comes from Adam Shinabarger, a Geology student at Michigan State University, who gave permission for his full name to be used. It is instructive because it commits several informal logical fallacies, so we hope readers will be alerted when they encounter the same fallacies in other anti-creationist articles. For example, there is the argument from authority, generalizing without concrete data, poisoning the well, and overlooking the role of axioms or presuppositions (unproven starting assumptions) in formulating explanations (see Evolution & creation, science & religion, facts & bias  and Presuppositionalism vs evidentialism)  We are also grateful to him for giving us an excuse to explain how there is so much evidence for the Flood of Noah’s day — providing that one starts from the right axioms instead of declaring this to be inadmissible a priori. His letter is first printed in its entirety (indented text), then reprinted with a point-by-point response by Drs Tas Walker and Jonathan Sarfati (non-indented text).

    I’d like to inform both the magazine and whoever else this will reach of the horrible misinformation your publication is spreading. From just one issue (Feb. 2001, I believe), I found an atrocious amount of inaccuracies in your writings.
    I’ll agree with your magazine that fossilization does not take a long time. However, the rocks in which the fossils are contained do take millions of years to weather, erode, get deposited, and lithify. Do a little research and look at average rates of sedimentation.
    Does anyone there know ANYTHING about solution chemistry? Your magazine says the sea is not salty enough to have existed for as long as geologists think it has. Well, if they’d bother to look at the fact that salt precipitates out once the water becomes concentrated enough in salts, they wouldn’t look like such idiots. There are other sources of salt sinks in the worlds’ oceans, but I don’t want your heads to cave in from actual KNOWLEDGE.
    Lastly (I’ll stop at 3 out of sympathy), your claim that erosion would have totally leveled the planet over the course of several million years is ridiculous. The rate of uplift that occurs in the various parts of the planet more than compensates for the rates of erosion around the world. There is uplift occurring now in the Himilayas and West Coast of the US, this is evident from GPS readings. Funny, I don’t see them getting eroded away.
    Maybe if your publication did some actual research in scientific journals or texts instead of quoting your own, you’d see your doing the world a disservice by spreading a graet deal of misinformation.
    I’d like to inform both the magazine and whoever else this will reach of the horrible misinformation your publication is spreading. From just one issue (Feb. 2001, I believe) [23(1), Dec 2000–Feb 2001], I found an atrocious amount of inaccuracies in your writings.

Thanks for writing. However, we don’t intentionally publish misinformation. Our aim is to correct the misinformation prevalent in our culture. (Incidentally, we also try to correct misinformation even by fellow creationists — see Arguments creationists should NOT use [see also later articles Maintaining Creationist Integrity (and feedback Commended for aiming for accuracy) and Unleashing the Storm (and feedback Weathering the Storm)—Ed.]) Think through our responses below and you’ll see what we mean.

=I’ll agree with your magazine that fossilization does not take a long time.

Glad you agree. However, although fossilization does not require millions of years, our culture gives us a different impression. Look up text books, encyclopedias or web sites and you will see that they say it takes millions of years for fossils to form. (E.g., the hardly atypical 1997 web article, Oregon’s first fossil egg discovered—wrapped in a mystery, speaks of ‘the millions of years it takes to become a fossil’.) Our articles dispel that misinformation. In fact, fossilization points to rapid and catastrophic sedimentation, supporting the Biblical record of the Flood.

=However, the rocks in which the fossils are contained do take millions of years to weather, erode, get deposited, and lithify. Do a little research and look at average rates of sedimentation.

You are getting to the key issue here. But remember, no one alive today has witnessed these millions of years. They are only obtained by extrapolating current processes into the past by assuming that the present is more-or-less the key to the past. Thus, your claim is wrong that deposition, lithifaction, erosion and weathering prove millions of years. Contrary to our cultural conditioning, under appropriate conditions, all these can happen quickly. We regularly publish articles that dispel this misinformation too, and Noah’s Flood is the key. For deposition, the article Sedimentation Experiments: Nature Finally Catches Up! contains pictures of fine laminæ in a 25-foot-thick rock layer produced by a pyroclastic flow from Mt St Helens, as well as laboratory produced lamination.
- For lithifaction see the articles Petrified flour(this was on p. 17 of the issue you referred to), and Rapid Rocks — Granites … they didn’t need millions of years of cooling (from a previous issue, 21(1):37–39, December 1998–February 1999). Note that concrete is an obvious example of an artificial conglomerate, showing that lithifaction can occur rapidly under the right conditions.
Kaibab Upwarp
- Large-scale, soft-sediment deformation.
Grand Canyon’s Kaibab Upwarp.
- Many sedimentary rocks are so brittle they would break under any applied pressure, no matter how slowly applied. The fact of intense folding in some now-brittle rocks shows they were still soft when the pressure was applied. A good example is the Kaibab Upwarp in the Grand Canyon, where rock layers including the Tapeats Sandstone were uplifted by a mile, and in one place bend about 90 degrees in just over 30 m (diagram, right, after Morris). This is claimed to have been 480 million years old at the time of the warping, by which time it would have surely hardened. But if it were hard at the time of warping, we would expect to find evidence of great stress, e.g. elongated sand grains or broken crystals of cementing minerals. Yet we don’t, indicating that the material was still soft while bending, showing that it could not have been laid down over millions of years but was deformed soon after deposition, thus eliminating a half billion years from the supposed geological time scale.
- Engineers Canyon at Mt St Helens
Cross-section of clastic dykes.
Sand/water mixture was still soft enough to flow through cracks.
- Another important evidence that large thicknesses of layered sedimentary rock formed and hardened more-or-less simultaneously is fluidisation pipes. This is where a hot lava flow intruded horizontally and very rapidly underneath a sedimentary deposit, boiled the water touching it, which welled up to form a vertical column above the hot spot. In this column, the unconsolidated sediment transformed into a fluid suspension, destroying the layered structure, and then hardening into a noticeable ‘pipe’ structure. See Fluidisation pipes: Evidence of large-scale watery catastrophe, Journal of Creation 14(3):8–9, 2000. Clastic dykes are another line of evidence that shows that upper layers must have been deposited before the sandstone had hardened, otherwise it couldn’t have forced its way through the cracks—see diagram (above right, after Morris).
- Clastic Dyke
Engineers Canyon at Mt St Helens. Eroded in one day.
- For erosion, see the 100-foot-deep Engineer’s Canyon on the north fork of the Toutle River (diagram, right), like a model of Grand Canyon. It was carved very quickly by a catastrophic mud flow from a Mt St Helens eruption through earlier pyroclastic deposits. See also the article ‘Canyon Creation’, Creation 22(4):46–48, September–November 2000. Weathering processes have mostly been slower, having continued for the 4,300 years since the Flood.
- It’s interesting that even secular geologists are recognising the role of catastrophic floods. E.g. the Hawkesbury Sandstone in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, which is a huge sorted sedimentary deposit (i.e. the grains are roughly separated according to size), indicating that the sediment has been transported a long distance from where it was eroded from the parent rock. Dr Patrick Conaghan, at one time senior lecturer in the School of Earth Science at Macquarie University, and who has published numbers of papers about the Hawkesbury Sandstone, described a succession of catastrophic, massive flood waves possibly 20 m high and up to 250 km wide sweeping down from an ancient lake that stretched from Murrurundi north of Sydney to the Carnarvon Ranges in central Queensland. Dr Conaghan recognises that the volumes and velocities necessary to explain the sediment volumes must have been huge, consistent with the catastrophe of Noah’s Flood. See also Dating dilemma: fossil wood in ‘ancient’ sandstone to show how this supposedly 225–230 million-year-old formation contained fossil wood with detectable 14C activity [Ed. note: see also Radiometric dating breakthroughs which include detectable 14C activity in coal and diamonds].
- Formation of crossbeds — sand waves under fast-flowing water
Thick cross-beds. Evidence of huge sand waves beneath deep, fast-flowing water.
- In the Grand Canyon, the Coconino Sandstone covers half a million square km and has a sand volume of 40,000 cubic km, and the angle of crossbeds plus other features show that it was deposited as sand waves under water. The enormous thickness shows that the waves were about 18 m high, which indicates that they were deposited under water 54 m deep, with sustained unidirectional currents of 90–155 cm/sec. See diagram (right) and Grand Canyon: Startling Evidence for Noah’s Flood and Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe.
- There are no floods on Earth today, or in recorded history (since the Bible of course), creating such huge deposits of sedimentary material. The present is not the ‘key to the past’, a basic principle that spurred the foundation of modern geology with its slow and gradual processes requiring millions of years to do almost anything. No, the past, as revealed in the Bible, is the key to understanding what we can see in the present—huge sedimentary formations even crossing continents (e.g. America across into Europe and Africa). Global scale catastrophe, as per the Biblical Flood, is needed to explain these features.
Diagram of features between rock layers that must have been preserved quickly
- Features on surface of sediment deposits must have formed quickly and been covered quickly.
- Further evidence against long ages is the existence of footprints in successive layers. There could have been no long ages between strata, otherwise they would have been eroded—how long do you think one of your footprints would last? They must have been preserved when the next macro-layer (often comprising many fine laminæ) was laid on top, especially with the cementing action of dissolved minerals. In Queensland, Australia, where we live, they have recently uncovered fossil footprints, and to illustrate our point, they very soon had to build a protective shed over them because they started eroding so quickly when exposed to the elements. See diagram (right), after Morris.

=Does anyone there know ANYTHING about solution chemistry?

Well, yes, one does cover such things in a chemistry Ph.D as one of us (JS) has earned — probably a lot more than the average geology undergrad, even ….

=Your magazine says the sea is not salty enough to have existed for as long as geologists think it has [referring to Salty seas: Evidence for a young earth]

Of course, by ‘geologists’ you mean ‘evolutionary’ or ‘uniformitarian’ geologists. You see, creationist geologists (such as TW) think the sea is salty enough to have existed for as long as they ‘think it has’.

=Well, if they’d bother to look at the fact that salt precipitates out once the water becomes concentrated enough in salts, they wouldn’t look like such idiots.

Salt influx and outflow in ocean
- Salt fills the sea too fast. Upper limit using evolutionary assumptions is 62 million years. Salt content is consistent with biblical assumptions.

Well, you need to provide quantitative data instead of asserting that this or that process occurs, and imply that we’d never heard of it, otherwise someone else might end up ‘looking like an idiot ;)’. That’s the problem, getting the solution concentrated enough. Seawater is highly undersaturated (by a factor of 20!) in both Na+ and Cl– ions, so it actually tends to dissolve rather than precipitate salt (halite, NaCl). Most salt is deposited today from concentrated continental river water.
- As indicated, the article above was mainly a summary of a detailed study, The sea’s missing salt: a dilemma for evolutionists, with only a minor update, which strengthens the case. This article points out that halite deposition is not the major source of removal from the oceans despite popular impressions, but is actually minor compared with salt spray and ion exchange (given in the popular-level article), and trivial compared to river input.
- This article also addresses albite formation, pointing out that it would remove only a negligible amount of sodium, despite some atheistic articles circulating in the darker hovels of the internet claiming that creationists have overlooked this possibility of reconciling billions of years with the hard evidence.

=There are other sources of salt sinks in the worlds’ oceans, …

All of which are accounted for quantitatively in that paper.

=… but I don’t want your heads to cave in from actual KNOWLEDGE.

No, can’t have that, if ‘knowledge’ is stipulatively defined as ‘materialistic theories’ instead of hard data as documented in the above paper.

=Lastly (I’ll stop at 3 out of sympathy), …

As amply shown by our response, your patronizing language really doesn’t become you.

=… your claim that erosion would have totally leveled the planet over the course of several million years is ridiculous. The rate of uplift that occurs in the various parts of the planet more than compensates for the rates of erosion around the world. There is uplift occurring now in the Himilayas [sic] and West Coast of the US, this is evident from GPS readings. Funny, I don’t see them getting eroded away.

You may not have noticed the erosion, but land erosion is taken very seriously by government conservation organisations. The estimated average rates are slow—generally less than a millimetre per year. So, the claim is not ridiculous but is seriously discussed in the geologic literature. The literature also discusses ways to avoid the problem this presents for the billion year timescale. Your idea of uplift is discussed in an earlier article on this issue (Eroding ages, Creation 22(2):18–21,2000).

Uplift does not solve the problem because sediments of all ages are found in mountainous regions. If significant uplift and erosion had occurred, then only old sediments would be present.

=Maybe if your publication did some actual research in scientific journals or texts instead of quoting your own, …

Check our Journal of Creation [Previously TJ], which is scientific by any definition (apart from an anti-creationist one that rules out a designer a priori as Richard Lewontin and Scott Todd do). Journal of Creation regularly reports ‘actual research’ and many of the authors also publish in secular scientific journals.

=… you’d see your [sic] doing the world a disservice by spreading a graet [sic] deal of misinformation.

We hope our responses will encourage you to do some digging for yourself on these issues. Examine the presuppositions behind what you are being taught, and behind your own belief systems. [In another email, Mr Shinabarger asserted, without proof of course, that the Bible is mythology, ignoring the type of literature and the vast supporting evidence for its historicity—see Q&A: Bible. He also said: ‘What an arrogant assumption to think that humans are anymore important than a colony of bacteria.’ We wonder whether he would be arrogant enough ever to protect himself by using antiseptics or antibiotics to poison whole colonies of bacteria …]
- Modern geology is based on the decision to deny Noah’s Flood and the assumption that past geologic processes happened slowly over millions of years—see this revealing pronouncement from James Hutton, the ‘Father of Uniformitarianism’. If you are alert when you examine geologic outcrops in the field, you will not find evidence for the slow-and-gradual ideas you are being taught but will find abundant evidence for catastrophe, exactly as expected from Noah’s Flood. We recommend that you subscribe to Journal of Creation, especially for the insights you will receive from the geology articles. Let us know how you go in your course.
- (Drs) Tas Walker and Jonathan Sarfati



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