Posted by: paulgarner | April 7, 2009

Kurt Wise on the floating forest model

Kurt P. Wise

Kurt P. Wise

Well, what do you know? No sooner had I written about the floating forest model developed by Kurt Wise, than I came across an on-line video on this very subject by the man himself. You can watch Kurt’s talk in two parts here and here, but be warned that each part is about 180 MB in size.

Nevertheless, be patient because it’s definitely worth the wait. Kurt is, as always, an animated and lively speaker and he presents a wonderful case study of how creationists are constructing testable scientific theories with great explanatory power. This exemplifies the kind of work that creationists need to be doing these days.

If you still live in the Palaeolithic, there are smaller ‘dial up’ versions here and here, but the quality is so poor that the Powerpoint slides are unfortunately illegible. You would get the soundtrack though.


UPDATE (2 December 2012):
A reader has kindly contacted me to say that the above links are now broken and lead to a less than salubrious web site. I have therefore removed them. However, Kurt’s talk on the floating forest can be viewed on YouTube, with part one found here.


  1. Very interesting.

    How would a quaking bog in the sea maintain it’s soil levels? The water must be removing the mud at a certain rate (however tightly held by the roots of trees etc it is). Although I know nothing about geology, I expect the ones in lakes are in rather muddy lakes, and the water removes mud from the soil layer and deposits it into the layer at roughly equal rates (a bit like a chemical equilibrium). (Is that right?)

    But the sea isn’t that muddy is it? Or maybe it is in parts? After all, it can be rather murky at the beach, so I suppose it can be really muddy in places. Could the mud come from the land mass?…

  2. I think the point about the floating forest model is that the plants inhabiting it are interpreted as growing in water rather than in a soil like terrestrial plants. This makes sense of the hollowness of the trunks, roots and rootlets of the Carboniferous lycopods, as well as the radially branching pattern of their roots which is characteristic of aquatic plants. See Scheven J. 1981. Floating forests on firm grounds: advances in Carboniferous research. Biblical Creation 3(9):36-43 (unfortunately not available online).

  3. So, just to clarify, am I right in thinking that a quaking bog does (at least in the parts with larger plants) have soil, and the floating forests are similar to quaking bogs, but not the same as them (ignoring things like difference in vegetation living there).

    • This website suggests that at least some parts of a modern “quaking bog” or “trembling earth” may display thin organic soil layers composed of plant detritus. I can envisage similar organic horizons accumulating in the pre-Flood floating forest ecosystem. Of course, as you indicate, the vegetation types in the floating forest would have been quite different.

  4. Exactly how do the floating forests fair in the midst of a cataclysm so severe that it moves all the earth’s continents into place in a single year, and also reduces all the world’s rocks to sediments on average a mile thick all over the earth? Sounds like a lot of energy is needed to do those things, not to mention the energy released when it rains torrents that flood the whole earth in 40 days. Wow, all that is quite quite energetic, not to mention HOT.

    • Assuming that your question is a serious one, the answer is that the floating forest biome did not fare well during the global flood. It was broken up and buried from the outside in, explaining the sequence of plant fossils observed in the Palaeozoic fossil record and the marine nature of much of the associated sedimentary record. The central parts of the floating forest probably constitute the Carboniferous coals. The failure of the ecosystem to re-develop after the flood, perhaps because of the stormier ocean conditions, would explain why most of the Palaeozoic plants and virtually all the associated animals are extinct today.

  5. I’m confused. I heard somewhere that Sequoia’s had radial root systems like the lycopods, thus refuting the idea that they floated on water. Is that true?

    • Thanks for your question, Thunderclees. Do you have a source for the information you heard? I’ve consulted a botanist friend who has been unable to find any hint that sequoias have roots other than those typical for conifers. Furthermore, in his technical paper on the floating forest model Kurt Wise ranked various plant taxa based upon their possession of characters which enhance terrestriality. The Pinopsida (the group which includes the sequoias) came out with a terrestriality ranking of 6, while the Lycopsida came out with a terrestriality ranking of 4 or so, suggesting that the sequoias are substantially better designed for terrestriality than the lycopods.

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