Can Noah’s Flood Explain Banded Iron Stripes?

Banded iron formation

Banded iron formation

ALTHOUGH creationists claim that geology and evolutionary biology are two parts of one big scam — each science faking its data to support the claims of the other — they are entirely separate disciplines. Their independent conclusions are, however, strikingly complementary, as is expected of sciences that describe the real world.

To the endless frustration of creationists, those two sciences provide no comfort to those who imagine that about 4,000 years ago, Noah’s Ark rode the waves of a global flood that covered a very young earth and created most of the world’s geological features.

A good example is found in a press release issued by the University of Wisconsin–Madison: Banded rocks reveal early Earth conditions, changes. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The strikingly banded rocks scattered across the upper Midwest and elsewhere throughout the world are actually ambassadors from the past, offering clues to the environment of the early Earth more than 2 billion years ago.

“But surely,” the creationists insist, “it’s only the ‘Darwinist’ worldview that produces such a conclusion. Those banded rocks could have been caused by the Deluge.”

Really? Is the creationist interpretation even remotely possible? Let’s read on:

Called banded iron formations or BIFs, these ancient rocks formed between 3.8 and 1.7 billion years ago at what was then the bottom of the ocean. The stripes represent alternating layers of silica-rich chert and iron-rich minerals like hematite and magnetite.

Hmmmm. Could a single, worldwide flood produce such alternating layers? Or would the iron-rich sediments all descend to form one stratum? And wouldn’t the strata be deposited according to the density of their contents, with the heaviest material found in the deepest levels? These BIFs are troublesome. We continue:

First mined as a major iron source for modern industrialization, BIFs are also a rich source of information about the geochemical conditions that existed on Earth when the rocks were made. However, interpreting their clues requires understanding how the bands formed, a topic that has been controversial for decades, says Huifang Xu, a geology professor at UW-Madison.

The photo at the top of this post is from the press release, where it’s attributed to Professor Xu. Here’s more:

A study appearing today (Oct. 11) as an advance online publication in Nature Geoscience offers a new picture of how these colorful bands developed and what they reveal about the composition of the early ocean floor, seawater, and atmosphere during the evolution of the Earth.

Here’s a link to the abstract: Generation of banded iron formations by internal dynamics and leaching of oceanic crust. You’ll need a subscription to read the entire paper. Moving along:

Previous hypotheses about band formation involved seasonal fluctuations, temperature shifts, or periodic blooms of microorganisms, all of which left many open questions about how BIFs dominated the global marine landscape for two billion years and why they abruptly disappeared 1.7 billion years ago.

With Yifeng Wang of Sandia National Laboratories, Enrique Merino of Indiana University and UW-Madison postdoc Hiromi Konishi, Xu developed a BIF formation model that offers a more complete picture of the environment at the time, including interactions between rocks, water, and air.

We’ll skip a lot here, leaving it to you to read the entire press release, and perhaps the published paper. Another excerpt:

BIFs dominated the global oceans 3.8 to 1.7 billion years ago, a time period known to geologists as the Archaean-Early Proterozoic, then abruptly disappeared from the geologic record. Their absence in more recent rocks indicates that the geochemical conditions changed around 1.7 billion years ago, Xu says.

But … what about the Flood? We can imagine one thick iron-rich stratum showing up early (that is, deep) in the geologic record — but those infernal bands! It’s not easy being a creationist.

Here’s one last excerpt from the press release:

This change likely had wide-ranging effects on the physical and biological composition of the Earth. For example, the end of BIF deposition would have starved iron-dependent bacteria and shifted in favor of microbes with sulfur-based metabolisms. In addition, chemical and pH changes in the ocean and rising atmospheric oxygen may have allowed the emergence and spread of oxygen-dependent organisms.

We don’t think there’s much here that the creationists can spin in their favor. They’re likely to ignore this entirely. Overlooking inconvenient facts is a standard technique of “creation science.” Or maybe they’ll just claim that the Flood did it. Their followers will go along.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Can Noah’s Flood Explain Banded Iron Stripes?

  1. I was watching a show about Loch ness (sp?) the other day. About how it was attached, at some point in time, to North East USA. They showed a video of someone pushing layers of clay, sand, etc… through a chamber and it made the same patterns that you show in your picture.

  2. Colloquy says: “They showed a video of someone pushing layers of clay, sand, etc… through a chamber and it made the same patterns that you show in your picture.”

    Ah. That would be the Designer.

  3. Earthquakes.

  4. comradebillyboy

    god made all the evidence contradict the bible to test our faith or lack thereof.

  5. comradebillyboy

    Here is a link that explains it all and is proof positive of a young earth:

  6. The iron could have been malformed if the flood was caused by heavy water!

  7. Curmudgeon: “Or maybe they’ll just claim that the Flood did it. Their followers will go along.”

    Heck, some “kinds” of creationist can even say that there was no global flood – or even that the designer might even be deceased – and still have millions worship them as their “savior” from the evils of “Darwinism.”

  8. As fun as BIF’s are for their theory, I personally like to see them try to explain evaporative salt layers with the flood. Even the dumbest of them realizes that salt dissolves in water, making it a little hard to become a layer during a flood.

  9. How about polywater? Surely a designer intelligent enough to build an “irreducibly complex” falgellum could polymerize H2O to reduce NaCl solubility.

  10. Frank, please don’t even suggest something like that. It will show up as the next “explanation” for ID and because the next scientist will be stunned into speechlessness by its inanity when they throw it at him/her, it will be proof of it being true.

  11. Albanaeon,

    I wouldn’t worry about IDers claiming anything else that can be easily refuted to most nonscientists. They have regretted much of what they said early on, e.g. Behe’s “designed ancestral cell.” In 2003 I proposed “intelligent electron ‘theory’,” (google “defeating benzenizm by opening minds”), and they never picked up on that. A year earlier Dembski made it clear that ID was not to “connect dots.”

  12. Gabriel Hanna

    In 2003 I proposed “intelligent electron ‘theory’,

    I prefer ‘belligerent electron theory’. I swear they exhibit exchange antisymmetry just to make my life difficult. They’re notional, but timid-you can often make electronic devices work by banging on them once or twice, just so they get the message.

  13. Gabriel Hanna says:

    I prefer ‘belligerent electron theory’.

    As might be expected, I favor the Sensuous Electron Theory. The little darlings always seem to be so … attractive.

  14. “Belligerent Electron Theory?” I would go with a “Mischievous Electron Theory” as the little buggers are apt to malfunction in some bizarre way only to realign themselves before any damage is done and making me look ridiculous.

  15. Curmudgeon: “As might be expected, I favor the Sensuous Electron Theory. The little darlings always seem to be so … attractive.”

    Are you positive? 😉

  16. Frank J asks: “Are you positive?”

    Of course. Otherwise I’d be repulsive.

  17. Gabriel Hanna

    I knew someone who claimed she could see the electrons running around in the circuits, and that’s how she solved circuit problems.

  18. Waves in the rocks, waves in the flood water

    Coincidence? LOL