Posted by: paulgarner | April 1, 2009

Hunting for fossils in the post-Flood sediments of Suffolk

Overview-of-capel-green-site

The disused quarry at Capel Green, Suffolk

A few weeks ago I spent a day indulging one of my passions — collecting fossils. I visited two sites in Suffolk, just over an hour’s drive from my home, that I’d not been to before.

The first was a small disused quarry at Capel Green on the edge of Rendlesham Forest (Grid Ref: 52.09205°N, 1.45350°E). In the quarry there are some nice exposures of the shelly sands and gravels known locally as the Red Crag. These deposits are very fossiliferous so it took only a short time to collect several species of marine bivalves and gastropods. In fact the best specimens are those that have been washed out of the eroding faces and deposited in the talus on the quarry floor.

About 250 species of molluscs are known from the Red Crag, of which about half are extinct (Curry 1992 p.402). The Red Crag yields a higher proportion of sub-Arctic species than the underlying Coralline Crag (Anderton et al. 1979 p.258), evidence that ocean temperatures were declining during the time these sediments were being deposited.

So when were these sediments being laid down? From a conventional perspective, the Red Crag is Late Pliocene in age (between 3.6 and 1.8 million years old according to radiometric dates). But as those who have read my book will know, creation geologists think that radiometric dates greatly overestimate the true ages of rocks and minerals. Assuming that the Flood/post-Flood boundary is broadly equivalent to the Cretaceous/Palaeogene boundary (Austin et al. 1994; Whitmore and Garner 2008), these sediments must have been formed sometime after the global flood of Noah’s day.

11-second-face-at-capel-green-red-crag1

Cross-bedded units in the Red Crag, Capel Green, Suffolk

Following Whitmore and Wise’s (2008) attempt to correlate the post-Cretaceous radiometric dates with biblical dates for the post-Flood period, we can infer that the Late Pliocene began about 95-300 years after the global flood (Sanders 2009 p.67). This is probably during the lifetime of Peleg (Genesis 10:25), leaving us with the intriguing suggestion that these sediments may have been deposited while the dispersal of humans from Babel was taking place. (Homo erectus fossils make their earliest appearance in the succeeding Pleistocene).

How long did it take for these shelly sands and gravels to be deposited? The cross-bedding evident in the exposures at Capel Green suggests high-energy conditions and rapid rates of accumulation. This is consistent with the tidally-dominated shallow marine shelf environment in which the Red Crag is thought to have been deposited.

4-london-clay-exposed-in-cliffs-levington

The London Clay Formation exposed in the cliffs at Levington, Suffolk

The other locality I visited was an exposure of the London Clay Formation (Eocene) along the banks of the River Orwell at Levington (Grid Ref: 52.00109°N, 1.24246°E). The homogeneous mudstones of the London Clay are older than the Red Crag, and were deposited when ocean waters encroached onto the eastern part of England in early post-Flood time. According to Curry (1992 p.296) macrofossils occur sparingly in the London Clay as a rule, and this was certainly my experience at Levington. Despite a couple of hours searching the foreshore for sharks’ teeth — or even a mollusc or two — I came away empty handed. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes. 

References

Anderton R., Bridges P. H., Leeder M. R. and Sellwood B. W. 1979. A Dynamic Stratigraphy of the British Isles: A Study in Crustal Evolution, George Allen & Unwin, London.

Austin S. A., Baumgardner J. R., Humphreys D. R., Snelling A. A., Vardiman L. and Wise K. P. 1994. Catastrophic plate tectonics: a global Flood model of earth history, in: Walsh, R. E. (editor), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp.609-621.

Curry D. 1992. Tertiary, in: Duff P. McL. D. and Smith A. J. (editors), Geology of England and Wales, The Geological Society, London, pp.389-411.

Sanders R. 2009. Oceanic islands and their plants as a test of post-Flood speciation, in: Wood T. C. and Garner P. A. (editors), Genesis Kinds: Creationism and the Origin of Species, CORE Issues in Creation Number 5, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, pp.65-112.

Whitmore J. H. and Garner P. 2008. Using suites of criteria to recognize pre-Flood, Flood, and post-Flood strata in the rock record with application to Wyoming (USA), in: Snelling A. A. (editor), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh and Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, pp.425-448.

Whitmore J. H. and Wise K. P. 2008. Rapid and early post-Flood mammalian diversification evidenced in the Green River Formation, in: Snelling A. A. (editor), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh and Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, pp.449-457.

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