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Of fossils, floods and Florida

Of fossils, floods and Florida | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

One of the problems with taxonomic classifications of extinct organisms is determining what the normal range of variation was.  For example, in the article referenced here, researchers have used comparative analysis of a saber-toothed cat's jaws and teeth to help determine the animal's taxonomy.

 

But how can we be reasonably confident that the differences in the teeth and jaws really translated into true intraspecies differences?

 

As a side note, Florida is one of the most fossiliferous states in the US, and much of it is related to the phosphate deposits that cover much of the central region of the state.  The most fossiliferous formation is actually called the Bone Valley Formation, and is intimately related to the phosphate deposits. (1)

 

So what was going on here?  Certainly there are no fossil-rich layers forming anywhere in Florida right now.  There's some connection between the phosphate, the Bone Valley formation, and the 10-20 feet of sand that overlies the whole stratigraphic package.

 

I'm starting to wonder if there is a relationship between the Lake Agassiz paleoflood that had massive effects in the Caribbean, and the unique geological features of Florida (2).

 

(1) http://www1.fipr.state.fl.us/PhosphatePrimer/0/C0E6FF4202BB60D685256F77005D2847

 

(2) https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/ndnotes/Rebound/Glacial%20Rebound.htm


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Raison d'etre

Raison d'etre | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

In geological terms, a contact is the place where two different types of rocks come together. This ezine is a place to find content from my favorite web sources on the the creation-evolution issue, with a focus on the subject of geology.  Just as the layers of a rock can be composed of many different materials, so my sources often differ in their assumptions and in their views on the issue, but their common intersection is the belief that this is an important subject.

 

(Image source:  Glyn Baker, http://www.geograph.org.uk/reuse.php?id=167895)

YEC Geo's insight:

While my interests are wide-ranging, as even a cursory glance at this site will show,  a subject of great personal interest to me is the preservation of biological material in fossils presumed tens to hundreds of millions of years old.  In my view, the increasing pace of discovery of such material is one of the strongest evidences in support of a young age for the earth.

 

Below is a continuously updated archive of articles I've found on the subject:

 

Jurassic squid ink: http://sco.lt/7nbAVV

550 million year old tube worms: http://sco.lt/8xwAJl, http://sco.lt/4xoX6v

23 million year old lizard:  http://sco.lt/5qDwpt

46 million year old mosquito: http://sco.lt/8AQAuf

46 million year old beetle scales: http://sco.lt/68OHA1

70 million year old hadrosaur skin: http://sco.lt/8SaVEn, http://sco.lt/9L5UDB

160 year old mollusk melanin:  http://sco.lt/6QYbU9

Brian Thomas’ overviews:  http://sco.lt/92v9t3, http://sco.lt/5H0JSj

Archaeopteryx feather:  http://sco.lt/70tG8P

190-197 million year old sauropod egg proteins: http://sco.lt/7J3aSX

250 million year old coloration on trilobites: http://sco.lt/4xixrV

Cretaceous triceratops horn: http://sco.lt/6a9nlZ, http://sco.lt/5FtIBd

Bachelor’s thesis on fossil pigments: http://sco.lt/5mbfv7

350 million year old crinoids & 417 million year old eurypterid chitin: http://sco.lt/5Y3cVl

C-14 in dinosaur bones, a presentation at an AGU-AOGS conference that was later stricken from the conference records:  http://sco.lt/5OIu25

Soft tissue overview from Answers in Genesis: http://sco.lt/666kpl

Dr. Mary Schweitzer’s dinosaur tissue research: http://sco.lt/5VIvnl

Preserved coloration in 70 million year old mammal teeth: http://sco.lt/5H0JSj

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The paradox of Pacific guyots and a possible solution for the thick ‘reefal’ limestone on Enewetok Island

The paradox of Pacific guyots and a possible solution for the thick ‘reefal’ limestone on Enewetok Island | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"Scientists have presumed that guyots are erosionally-truncated drowned volcanoes. However, many North Pacific guyots are actually large volcanic platforms capped by thick carbonate, and topped by a veneer of pelagic ooze.

 

Uniformitarian scientists believe the carbonate represents ancient reefs that drowned. This belief is reinforced by ocean drilling program (ODP) drill cores that contain fossils of rudists,5 corals, calcareous algae, and benthic foraminifera.

 

Since guyots are assumed to have formed at sea level, the main paradox facing uniformitarian scientists is that reef growth should have been one to two orders of magnitude faster than relative sea level rise."

YEC Geo's insight:

Mike Oard is always very good at confronting problems with the creationist model, coming up with possible answers, and being refreshingly honest about any shortcomings that remain.

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African Cardinal unknowingly defines the core problem with evolution as it's currently understood

African Cardinal unknowingly defines the core problem with evolution as it's currently understood | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
“Development means that each thing expands to be itself,” he tweeted, “while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.”
YEC Geo's insight:

Totally unrelated to geology, but the best definition I've seen, period, of the essential problem with the neo-Darwinian evolutionary synthesis. 

 

Cardinal Napier of South Africa recently stated that "'development' in Catholic teaching, which some use to justify more positive stances on same-sex unions and other matters," is not the same thing as changing it."

 

The phrasing that he used, quoted above, also happens to encapsulate the philosophical problem presented by evolution.  If variation is without limits, as it must have been for all present life to have evolved from a single cell, then where do you draw the boundaries between organisms?  Why do we see, for example, fruit flies stubbornly reproducing generation after generation of fruit flies, regardless of the best attempts of researchers to change them into something else?  They always end up as fruit flies: mutated, wingless, legless, crippled fruit flies, perhaps, but fruit flies nonetheless.

 

Life on earth in the present time manifests the universality of limits to variation, yet under the neo-Darwinian synthesis, the history of life has been a continuum of change.  What happened to bring that limitless change to a screeching halt? 

 

I have never heard of any experimental evidence of mutation + natural selection transforming one organism into another, as opposed to "developing" what already exists. Thank you, good Cardinal, for giving words to my biggest frustration with the evolutionary model as it's currently understood.

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A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River

A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"The bruised violet-blue clouds rolling across the endless Houston summer skies reflect off the waters of the Bayou beneath the Rosemont Bridge. A mere half-hour earlier, bright summer sunlight had washed the city in heat. The weather in Houston is tempestuous, intense and fickle, an unpredictable element, much like the explosive growth and development of the fourth largest city in the US.

The Buffalo Bayou, however, a slow-moving river winding serenely through the city, is one constant in the historical, cultural, and geographic landscape of the city. Further west, the stream transforms into an industrial waterway, a habitat suffering from the effects of urbanization, pollution, loss of wildlife, and aging infrastructure. But downtown, the Bayou provides refreshing contact with nature in a highly urban environment."

YEC Geo's insight:

Houston?  A bayou city?  Never really thought about the city that way, but this article demonstrates that a river really does run through it (or a bayou, to be precise).

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'End of the world' Siberia craters explode to surface: Key to Bermuda Triangle

'End of the world' Siberia craters explode to surface: Key to Bermuda Triangle | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
In a place know as the "end of the world," because it is such a remote area of Siberia, humongous craters appeared to explode their way up from deep bellow the frozen ground. These Siberian craters appeared over the summer and today scientists believe they may hold the answers to the unsolved mysterious of the Bermuda Triangle.
YEC Geo's insight:

Gas hydrates.  I've seen them linked before to the mysterious Tunguska crater in Siberia: http://www.therationaltheorist.org/2011/04/what-if-tunguska-was-methane-explosion.html

 

If harnessed properly, they also have the potential to supply a vast source of hydrocarbon energy: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/03/pictures/130328-methane-hydrates-for-energy/

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R.I.P. Gliese 581d

R.I.P. Gliese 581d | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
It’s almost comical that a scientist would express “almost no doubt” about life on a non-existent planet.
YEC Geo's insight:

Astronomer Danny Faulkner points out the dangers inherent in biases toward a particular interpretation, both for secular and creation scientists.

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Update on this year's El Nino

Update on this year's El Nino | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

LinA few months ago, I posted that there was uncertainty about the development of a strong El Nino this year. The verdict seems to be in, and rather than repeat a good analysis, I refer you to my favorite meteorologist, Cliff Mass. Here's a link to his "wimpy El Nino" conclusion! For us in the Pacific Northwest, it means that predictions for the winter basically can't be done, unless the El Nino suddenly strengthens.

YEC Geo's insight:

Link here:  http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

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College student figures out new way for detecting water on Mars

College student figures out new way for detecting water on Mars | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"Although volcanoes fascinated Wall as a child, she began her college experience as a communications major. However, after taking a geology class for a science credit, she loved the subject so much that she changed her major. By her sophomore year, her professors asked her to study volcanic activity on both Earth and Mars, which led to this discovery."

YEC Geo's insight:

Nice story.

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Uberfast canyon formation

Uberfast canyon formation | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
These remarkable canyons near Lumpkin, Georgia,
have astounded generations of visitors.
YEC Geo's insight:

Eroded through 150 feet of friable sandstone overlain by clay, Providence Canyon didn't exist before 1846.  A combination of poor farming practices and heavy rainfall led to the extreme gullying that created this area, now known as one of the "Seven Wonders of Georgia." 

 

For hiking information and spectacular photos, see here: http://www.atlantatrails.com/hiking-trails/trails-through-colorful-sandstone-hiking-providence-canyon/#.VDU1kxarlcA

 

Here's a Google Maps view, showing the edges of the gullying: http://goo.gl/maps/U8bns

 

To me, this area is a perfect test case for the theory of stream capture.  Obviously, the gullies are eroding headward.  Will they erode through the divide and "capture" the streams on the other side?

 

It's also an example of how rapidly canyon formation can proceed in unconsolidated formations (http://creation.com/canyon-creation).

 

What was most interesting to me is that the erodible beds are dated from the middle Cretaceous to the Paleocene, approximately 99-55 million years ago.  So for at least 55 million years, there was no appreciable erosion in these formations, yet in less than 200 years, gullying of 150 feet occurred?

 

 

 

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In virtual mega-drought, California avoids defeat

In virtual mega-drought, California avoids defeat | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"Sheri Shaffer, a manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, drives a boat past dry, rocky banks that reveal how far the water in Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet has receded. A group of scientists ran the state through a virtual mega-drought to see how it would fare."

YEC Geo's insight:

What I find interesting is the ledges cut into the banks along the lake.  Each must represent a previous shoreline of the receding lake.  Yet common sense would seem to dictate that a lake recedes continuously, in which case, shorelines shouldn't be "stepped" as they are in the photo.

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Strange rock formation was "fracked" by ancient quake

Strange rock formation was "fracked" by ancient quake | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
A group of rocks in Colorado's Front Range that seems to defy the rules of geology could be among the rarest of formations on Earth
YEC Geo's insight:

Interestingly, the article mentions the creationist interpretation.

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Impound for pound

Impound for pound | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
During his exploration of the Grand Canyon in 1869, John Wesley Powell was the first scientist to visit and later publish descriptions of the remnants of nature’s lava dams across the Colorado River. Many geologists have since supplemented Powell’s observations, with the benefit of ever improving analytical techniques that help add information about when each dam formed, its probable height, its life span, and the current status of dismemberment by erosion. As of 2014, the accumulated data suggest that at least seventeen eruptions created dams at various times between 850,000 and 100,000 years ago.
YEC Geo's insight:

The author raises some rather scary scenarios about the consequences in the present if another lava flow was to dam up the canyon.

 

The black areas in the photo above are the lava flows.

 

More about the lava flows, and image credit here:  http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/uinkaret-volcanic-field

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Natural gas leaking from faulty wells, not fracked shale

Natural gas leaking from faulty wells, not fracked shale | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"A new study adds to growing evidence that the risk of fracking contaminating drinking water wells is to due to problems with the lining of the gas wells, not the high-pressure fracturing of deep shale to release natural gas. In a new study, scientists examined isotopes of helium and two other noble gases to identify the source of methane found in drinking water wells in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania and the Barnett Shale of Texas, areas where a lot of fracking has taken place. The pattern of isotopes suggested that the stray gas had leaked out of the well casing near the surface, rather than escaping from the fracked deep shale, according to a story in The Dallas Morning News. The findings will be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

 

Tags: energy, pollution, resources, environment, environment modify, ecology.


Via Seth Dixon
YEC Geo's insight:

Interesting to see if this is a one-off, or if other researchers can duplicate the work elsewhere.  It will also be interesting to see what the reaction will be from those opposed to fracking.

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The great "shift change"

The great "shift change" | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
The energy industry – oil & gas sector in particular – is bracing itself for a massive wave of retirements over the short to medium term, which has been dubbed “The Great Shift Change.” As the industry prepares for this turnover, companies are looking to the next generation of candidates with skills ranging from finance, geology, engineering, law, etc.
YEC Geo's insight:

The reason there is a "shift change" going on is that the oil bust of the early 80s spawned waves of layoffs in the petroleum industry.  One popular joke back then went: 

 

What do you call a geologist in Midland, Texas?

Answer:  Waiter, waiter!

 

Exxon, for example, is one company with a whole raft of employees close to retirement age, with a large, essentially empty space behind them.  Exxon, unlike many other companies, did not fire people in the oil bust, but it stopped hiring, thus the looming lack of people to step into the ranks of those ready to retire.

 

The website linked to here provides weekly updates on jobs in the petroleum industry, particularly in North Dakota.  It'll be interesting to see how this new boom plays out, and if a corresponding bust is in the future.  One thing different from the 80s is that there are less qualified people out there, so even if jobs shrink, there may not be as many massive layoffs as there were back then.

 

I still hesitate to urge young people to go into geology--the memory of past busts is still strong--but if one is flexible, willing to travel, and has a good Plan B should geology not work out, there certainly are a lot of short term rewards to be had in the energy field.

 

 

 

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The geological column and mineral exploration

The geological column and mineral exploration | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"Ron B. from Canada asks about long ages and geological exploration:

 

'I have a friend who works closely with geologists in conjunction with the mining industry. The geologists told him that if they did not go by the millions of years and the geologic column it would be a lot harder to find uranium. It doesn’t seem to me that either of those things is necessary to find uranium. I’m thinking that they would use seismology among other kinds of technology. Is there some information you could offer me to help my friend?' "

 

YEC Geo's insight:

Tas Walker argues for a new column, based on Flood modelling, and gives an example of how that might look (above, click on image in article to enlarge).

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Mercury, Moon May Still Be Erupting

Mercury, Moon May Still Be Erupting | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
Two objects that should be cold and dead show surprising volcanic activity. Other indications of youthfulness in the solar system are noted.
YEC Geo's insight:

A lot of surprising research.

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The Scablands: A scarred landscape as strange as fiction

The Scablands: A scarred landscape as strange as fiction | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
The Scablands are essentially wounds, still unhealed by time and erosion. They cut through the land and down into the rock after a series of unfathomably large floods unleashed by the catastrophic draining of great glacial lakes—half the volume of Lake Michigan splashed onto the land in less than a week. If you can imagine that, you’ve got us beat. The story recorded in this landscape is so incredible, it took one geologist decades to convince his colleagues that he was reading it correctly.
YEC Geo's insight:

Great account of J Harlan Bretz's stubborn persistence in breaking the back of the monolithic gradualism of the geology of his day.

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Download Free Ebola Outbreak Maps

Download Free Ebola Outbreak Maps | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
Download Free Ebola Outbreak maps and shapefiles.
YEC Geo's insight:

A good site for GIS users to get a comprehensive overview of the tragedy.  For non-GISers, clicking on the links will bring up the maps.

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Visualizing Earth's Physical Systems

Visualizing Earth's Physical Systems | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"An animated map of global wind and weather. Join the Facebook community.  Seen here are the dual menaces, Cyclone Hudhud and Typhoon Vongfong (as seen from ISS)."


Via Seth Dixon
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, October 7, 2:18 PM

Earlier I shared a dynamic map of near-live wind data for the United States and a static rendering of global wind patterns.  This combines the features of both of those resources to provide a mesmerizing digital globe.  This visualization of global weather conditions is updated every three hours from supercomputer data projections.  Click on the 'earth' text in the lower left-hand corner to customize the display.  For examining the wind patterns and oceans currents, this is much more useful than Google Earth; this is definitely one of my favorite resources.


Tagsphysical, weather and climate, mapping, visualization.

Pam Anderson's curator insight, October 12, 11:48 AM

this might interest some of our teachers who are studying weather With their students.  I just think this site is fascinating!

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Lunar Impact: Major Moon Basin Was Not a Big Hit

Lunar Impact: Major Moon Basin Was Not a Big Hit | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
The theory of how the largest impact basin on the moon was formed has been turned upside down.

Oceanus Procellarum, the large dark feature often called the “Man in the moon,” has a new story to tell lunar geologists: “I’m a volcano.”
YEC Geo's insight:

Lots of important implications for this.

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Canyons on Earth, Mars Reinterpreted as Flood-Caused

Canyons on Earth, Mars Reinterpreted as Flood-Caused | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth today, but it was the scene of catastrophic floods in the past. A new paper in Icarus (the leading solar system journal) takes a look at amphitheater-headed canyons in the Chilean desert.
YEC Geo's insight:

The top image shows a theater-headed canyon, the bottom one shows how steep the heads of these canyons can be. (see here for image credit and more detail about these canyons: http://airandspace.si.edu/research/project/theater-headed-valleys-detail, and here for the work of Michael Lamb, who has focused much of his work on this feature: http://www.geologypage.com/2014/01/megafloods-what-they-leave-behind.html )

 

It used to be thought that these were caused by springs at the base of the canyon head slowly sapping away the cliff face, but more and more researchers are coming to the conclusion that catastrophic flooding is the more plausible explanation.

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An excellent question from one of my students

An excellent question from one of my students | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"The reason I am writing this blog entry, however, is because of a question one student asked me.

 

Once I had stopped discussing the various modes of radioactive decay, I started talking about how quickly it occurs. This brought me to the concept of half-life, which is the time it takes half of a sample of radioactive atoms to decay. I used my typical line:  "The half-life of carbon-14, for example, is 5,715 years. So if I hold 100 grams of carbon-14 in my hand, after 5,715 years, only 50 grams will be left, because half will have decayed away. If I wait another 5,715 years, half of that will decay, so I will be left with only 25 grams."

 

At that point a student stopped me and asked a very important question:

 "But how do we know the half-life is 5,715 years? We haven’t been measuring it for that long."

YEC Geo's insight:

Dr. Wile, author of Apologia, the popular homeschooling science series, is teaching a college class on chemistry this year.  The blog post concerns a question that one of his students asked about radioactive dating, and the comments offer a condensed yet thick treatment of the topic.

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Talking Back to Goliath: Some Advice for Students in the Evolutionary Biology Classroom

Talking Back to Goliath: Some Advice for Students in the Evolutionary Biology Classroom | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
Barash considers himself free to attack the worldviews of his students. Fair enough: do they have the freedom to raise questions about his favorite theory? Science is as science does: a strong theory, well supported by evidence, needs to fear no questions. A weak theory supported by bluster, on the other hand -- that theory should worry about a stone coming hard from a fast-whirling sling.
YEC Geo's insight:

Equally applicable to geology students questioning the standard old age paradigm.

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Eruption of Mt. Ontake volcano

"Hundreds of people, including children, were stranded on the peak after it erupted without warning just before noon on Saturday, sending ash pouring down the slope for more than three kilometres.

 

Most people made their way down that evening but some 30 were still stranded on Sunday morning."

YEC Geo's insight:

Link to hiker video of the eruption.  ABC news account here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-27/several-injured-in-volcanic-eruption-in-central-japan/5773890

 

The blogger at Geology in Motion comments here: http://www.geologyinmotion.com/2014/09/ontake-japan-erupts.html?__scoop_post=64837c10-4664-11e4-d3a3-842b2b775358&__scoop_topic=546072#__scoop_post=64837c10-4664-11e4-d3a3-842b2b775358&__scoop_topic=546072

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Dream field trip along the Silk Road

Dream field trip along the Silk Road | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
Mount Maijishan Grottoes – the 1500-year-old Mount Maiji Grottoes were first built in Later Qin of Sixteen States (384-417), and now boasts 194 grottoes linked by zigzagging jutting plank roads, with 7,200 pieces of clay statues and stone carvings and more than 1,300 sq meters of frescoes.
YEC Geo's insight:

The Danxia Landforms, a lake in the middle of a sandy desert that nevertheless has never been covered by sand, plus enormous endorheic basins and ancient Chinese monuments--what's not to love? 

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