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Too Many Fossils for a Global Flood

Copyright 2003 G.R. Morton This can be freely distributed so long as no changes are made and no charges are made.

Too many fossils for a global flood

Since the Hawaiian Islands have already been discussed, lets discuss the number of animals found in the fossil record.

According to global flood advocates, the global flood is responsible for the majority of the geologic column and it represents the remains of the preflood world. One biosphere was destroyed in this global cataclysm meaning that all the fossils we find lived on earth simultaneously prior to the flood. Thus we should be able to look at the number of living creatures and determine if it is possible for all the animals to live on earth at the same time. If not, then the global flood model has a tremendous problem. Only one biosphere was destroyed but if more than one biosphere is represented in the record, then the single global flood model can't be correct.

What do we see? There are clearly too many animals found in the geologic column. This is from my book Foundation, Fall and Flood, and I also for the first time post the references with this extract. There is more discussion below the references

The following is from Foundation, Fall and Flood


Too Many Animals

Advocates of the global flood claim that all the fossils are the remains of animals that died in the flood. Morris states,

"Still further, the creationist suspects that the fossil record and the sedimentary rocks, instead of speaking of a long succession of geologic ages, may tell rather of just one former age, destroyed in a single great worldwide aqueous cataclysm."37

If this claim is true, that the fossil record represents the remains of a single prediluvial world, then there should not be enough fossils to overcrowd the world. Most animals would be destroyed in the Flood, not preserved. Thus if the geologic column consists of one single biosphere which was destroyed in one year, there should be very few fossils and certainly not enough of them to fill up today's earth. But this isn't what we see. What we see are too many animals, which means that we have buried in the geologic column more than one biosphere.

Whitcomb and Morris cite with approval a paleontologist who estimates that the Karroo Formation of southern Africa is believed to contain 800 billion fossil vertebrates with an average size of the fox.38 There are 126 billion acres on the surface of the earth. Only 30 percent of this area is land, giving a land area of 38 billion acres. If 800 billion animals were spread over the 38 billion available acres, there would be 21 animals with an average size of a fox, per acre, from this deposit alone. This does not include all the vertebrate fossil deposits throughout the rest of the world. Assuming that the Karroo beds are only 1% of the fossil vertebrates in the world (the Karroo beds occupy much less than 1% of the sedimentary column) means that 2100 animals per acre occupied the preflood world. Since an acre is 4840 square yards, each animal would have only 2 square yards, or 18 square feet, of territory. That is an area only 4.2 wide by 4.2 feet long. This can be put in a setting that most Americans can understand. The average house lot is about a quarter acre. Can you imagine every house in your neighborhood surrounded by 525 hungry animals the size of a fox? I, for one, would not venture out of doors. Obviously this is far too many animals. [I don't believe Morris' numbers but if they are right, then this is the consequence--grm]

Too Many Plants

If we further consider the quantity of plant matter which must have occupied the single preflood world envisioned by young-earth creationists, these results pale in comparison. There are an estimated 15 x 10^18 grams of carbon contained in the coal reserves of the world.39 An acre of tropical forest contains 525 kilograms of plant matter per square meter.40 Assuming an 18% carbon content of plant matter41 we have 94.5 kilograms of carbon per square meter. Multiplying this by the number of square meters on land, we have approximately the quantity of carbon contained in coal, 15 x 10^18 grams. One can account for all the carbon in coal only by postulating a tropical rain forest over the entire world.
But this is impossible, because many of the animals in the fossil record require low productivity regions to survive. Grazing animals that live on grass can not live in tropical rain forests, because carpeting grasses do not live there. Now we have too many animals on each acre and almost too much plant matter. But we are not through. Whitcomb and Morris believe that oil and natural gas are the result of the decay of plants and animals that lived before the flood. These authors state,

"The exact nature of the organic material has been as yet quite unsettled, but there seems little doubt that the vast reservoirs of organic remains, both plant and animal, in the sedimentary rocks constitute a more than adequate source."

"Although the details are not clear, the Deluge once again appears to offer a satisfactory explanation for the origin of oil, as well as the other stratigraphic phenomena. The great sedimentary basins being filled rapidly and more or less continuously during the Flood would provide a prolific source of organic material, together with whatever heat and pressure might have been needed to initiate the chemical reactions necessary to begin the transformation into petroleum hydrocarbons. Of course, not all organic debris deposited during the Flood was converted into oil; apparently certain catalysts or other chemicals were also necessary, and where these were present, it was possible for oil to form."42

If all the oil were the result of the decay of organic matter, then there is far too much oil and natural gas in the world. There are 201 x 10^18 grams of carbon in the hydrocarbons of the earth. In all of the world's living things, there are only 0.3 x 10^18 grams of carbon. There is 670 times more carbon in petroleum than there is in every living plant and animal on earth. Surely the world was not 670 times more crowded at the time of the Flood than it is today!

Too Many Plankton

There are also too many microscopic animals. Most limestone is deposited by bacteria and invertebrate animals. The Austin Chalk, which underlies Dallas, is a 400-foot thick limestone bed made of the remains of microscopic animals, called coccolithophores or coccoliths. It is about 70% coccoliths. The coccolithophore is a small spherical animal, between 5 and 60 micrometers in diameter, each having about 16 coccoliths that separate upon the death. According to Stokes Law these animals would fall through the water at a rate of .1 millimeter per second. To fall through a 100 foot (33 meter) depth of water would take 4 days.

The time required to form the Austin Chalk is far longer than one year. The coccolith skeleton, when pressed flat, is about 1 micron or one millionth of a meter thick. A deposit of coccoliths 400 feet thick must represent many thousands of years of deposits. One hundred twenty-one million coccoliths could be stacked up like coins across the four hundred feet. The length of time necessary to deposit these 121 million coccoliths can be calculated by assuming the maximum density of living coccolithophores in the waters above. Such measurements can be made during an event known as a red tide.
Occasionally, growth conditions become so favorable that they grow beyond all reason. As many as 60 million creatures per liter of water grow and quickly use up all of the oxygen and nutrients in the water and then die. Their decay continues to use any oxygen entering the water and also gives off poisons. Fish who swim into one of these areas often die from lack of oxygen and the absorption of toxins emitted by the dead microorganism. These water blooms last only a few weeks as the microorganisms deplete the water's nutrients rapidly and die. However, even at their most dense, 60 million microorganisms per liter, only 39 layers of organisms are stacked in a single cubic centimeter. Thus, to stack 121 million coccoliths would require the death of nearly 8 million organisms. A 100 foot water depth, filled to the maximum with coccospheres, would only generate a thickness of six feet of chalk! The four hundred feet of chalk of the Austin formation would require 66 such blooms. If it required two weeks between each bloom to recharge the nutrients and one week for the bloom to occur, it would take 4 years to deposit the chalk. And these values are wildly optimistic for the deposition of chalk. This size bloom is not possible.

The coccolithophores remove calcium carbonate from the water to make their skeletons. In water depth of 100 feet there is not nearly enough calcium to deposit such a volume of chalk. One hundred feet of seawater contains only enough carbonate to deposit a little over 1-millimeter of carbonate. Thus, no bloom of the size mentioned above can even occur. Using the two-week recharge and one-week bloom mentioned above, it would take 7,000 years to deposit the chalk. Obviously, the chalk under Dallas would require much more time to deposit than merely one year. In southern Louisiana, the chalk is 2100 feet (640 meters) thick. I have drilled it. This would take considerably more time than seven thousand years.

Additionally, the quantity of chalk seen in the world is far too great to have been contained in the preflood world hypothesized by young-earth creationists. The Austin Chalk is a chalk deposit that stretches from Mexico along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico into Louisiana, a distance in excess of 800 km. In Mexico, the Austin Chalk is named the San Felipe Formation. A glance at the geologic data shows that the band is about 160 km wide and appears to average 120 meters in thickness.43 In the chalk in Texas alone there are enough dead coccolithophores to cover the earth to a depth of 3 centimeters. But Texas is not the only place on earth that has deposits of chalk. In Alabama and Mississippi, the chalk is known as the Selma. The Niobrara chalk - 5,000 km long, 1,400 km. wide and 6 meters thick - runs through much of the western part of the Great Plains of the United States.44 The Niobrara would add another 7 centimeters of cover to the earth. Throughout Europe Upper Cretaceous chalks cover large areas. The White Cliffs of Dover are made of chalk that is as much as 215 meters thick in parts of England. This chalk sweeps across southern Scandinavia, Poland and into south Russia where it attains an amazing thickness of up to 1000 meters. It is stopped by the Ural Mountains. The chalks of western Europe are enough to cover the entire earth to a depth of 83 centimeters.45 West of the Urals, in the Central Asian Tuar-Kyr mountain range, a deposit of chalk 20 meters thick is found. In Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, an Upper Cretaceous chalk is around 180 meters thick. If all the fossil record was the record of the destruction of one preflood biosphere, as Morris suggests, it must have been a crowded place. The worldwide quantity of dead coccoliths would cover the earth to a depth of one meter.

Too Many Diatoms

A deposit that is similar to chalk is diatomaceous chert. These siliceous deposits are made of little more than dead diatoms. A diatom is a small single-celled animal that lives in the sea. As diatoms collect on the ocean floor and are buried deeper and deeper, they are compressed and changed from a form known as diatomite, which is used in swimming pool filters, to opal. Upon further burial, with increased temperature and pressure, the opal is changed into chert. The Monterey formation of California is such a deposit. It is the light-colored rock that forms much of the landscape of southern California. The deposit is 1,200 kilometers long, 250 kilometers wide and averages half a kilometer in thickness. This single deposit of dead diatoms is large enough to cover the earth to a depth of nearly 1 foot, or 0.28 meters.
But this is not all. There are over 300 such siliceous deposits around the world. If each one of them is only one-fourth the size of the Monterey, then there are enough dead diatoms to cover the earth uniformly to a depth of 21 meters, or 70 feet! So we now have a preflood world which contains 2,100 terrestrial animals per acre (none of which are human), a tropical rain forest everywhere, 20 meters of dead diatoms over the entire globe and 1 meter of dead coccoliths. Where is everyone going to live? And we are not through.

Too Many Crinoids [see picture at end of this post--grm]

The Mission Canyon formation in the northwestern United States is part of a truly remarkable deposit. It is largely made of the remains of dead crinoids, which are deep-sea creatures called sea lilies. Clark and Stearn report,

"Much of the massive limestone formation is composed of sand-sized particles of calcium carbonate, fragments of crinoid plates, and shells broken by the waves. Such a sedimentary rock qualifies for the name sandstone because it is composed of particles of sand size cemented together; because the term sandstone is commonly understood to refer to a quartz-rich rock, however, these limestone sandstones are better called calcarenites. The Madison sea must have been shallow, and the waves and currents strong, to break the shells and plates of the animals when they died. The sorting of the calcite grains and the cross-bedding that is common in this formation are additional evidence of waves and currents at work. Even in Mississippian rocks, where whole crinoids are rare fossils, and as a result, it is easy to underestimate the population of these animals during the Paleozoic era. Crinoidal limestones, such as the Mission Canyon-Livingstone unit, provide an estimate, even though it be of necessity a rough one, of their abundance in the clear shallow seas they loved. In the Canadian Rockies the Livingstone limestone was deposited to a thickness of 2,000 feet on the margin of the Cordilleran geosyncline, but it thins rapidly eastward to a thickness of about 1,000 feet in the Front Ranges and to about 500 feet in the Williston Basin. Even though its crinoidal content decreases eastward, it may be calculated to represent at least 10,000 cubic miles of broken crinoid plates. How many millions, billions, trillions of crinoids would be required to provide such a deposit? The number staggers the imagination."46

In just this one deposit, there are enough crinoids to cover every square inch of the earth to a depth of 1/4 inch. Where would the vertebrate animals (in the Karroo Beds mentioned earlier) live if the whole world were covered with crinoids? But this deposit is not the only crinoidal deposit. Rocks of the lower Mississippian age are largely composed of crinoidal calcarenites - translation: dead crinoids. Further north in Canada, the deposit of crinoidal limestones is called the Rundle, and it is called the Lisburne limestone in Alaska. Both of these beds contain vast quantities of dead crinoids. Farther south, the crinoidal limestone is called the Leadville Limestone in Colorado, the Redwall in Arizona, and the Chappell in Texas, the Burlington and Keokuk limestones in the Mid-Continent region. The Burlington alone contains another 719 cubic miles of dead crinoids.47 It is called the Edwardsville Formation in Indiana. This Mississippian crinoidal rock unit is called the Ft. Payne in Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. But this is not the extent of this crinoidal limestone.
In Australia there is a deposit of crinoidal limestones called the Namoi and Bingleburra Formations.48 In Libya near the Timenocaline Wells, there is a 6 foot bed of crinoidal limestone.49 White crinoidal limestones are found along the banks of the Zilim River in the south part of the Ural Mountains.50 Belgium boasts a crinoidal limestone that reaches 2,100 feet thick.51 Without further documentation, which could have been provided, these crinoidal limestones are found in Egypt, Central Asia, and China. A Mississippian crinoidal limestone even tops Mt. Everest! With crinoids all over the Northern Hemisphere, where did land animals live? Where did the tropical rain forest live? Where did the diatoms come from? Where did the coal come from?

When it is realized that almost all of the limestone deposits in the world are biologic in origin, a problem quickly arises. There are 6.42 x 10^22 grams of carbon in the limestones of the earth and only 3 x 10^17 grams of carbon in the biosphere of the earth. The flood must have buried 214,000 times more living matter in limestone alone than is currently on the earth.

There are far too many dead animals to have fit on the preflood earth as envisioned by the global flood advocates. The fossil record can not even begin to be considered the remains of one preflood biosphere. It would have been too crowded! Glenn Morton, Foundation, Fall and Flood, (DMD Publishers, Spring TX, 1999), p. 83-86

  1. Henry M. Morris, The Troubled Waters of Evolution, (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1974), p. 21.
  2. Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, op. cit., p. 160.
  3. John M. Hunt, "Distribution of Carbon in Crust of the Earth," American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 56:11(1972), p. 2273-2277.
  4. Edward J. Kormondy, Concepts of Ecology, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969), p. 128.
  5. Alvin Nasan and Philip Goldstein, Biology, (New York: Addison-Wesley, 1969), p. 234.
  6. Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, op. cit., p. 434.
  7. D. G. Bebout and R. A. Schatzinger, "Regional Cretaceous Cross Sections - South Texas," in D. G. Bebout and R. G. Loucks, editors, Cretaceous Carbonates of Texas & Mexico, (Austin: Bureau of Economic Geology, 1977), p. 4 see also the cross sections in the back of the book.
  8. H. C. Jenkyns, "Pelagic Environments," in H. G. Reading, Sedimentary Environments and Facies, (New York: Elsevier, 1978), p. 369.
  9. In Europe there are three main lobes of chalk deposition:
    London-Paris basin 700 km x 300 km x .25 km thick
    Scotland-Germany 1100 km x 600 km x .5 km thick
    Poland - Carpathian front 800 km x 400 km x .5 km thick
    Peter A. Ziegler, Geological Atlas of Western and Central Europe, (Amsterdam: Shell Internationale Petroleum Maatschappij B. V., 1983) enclosure 32. Using the area of ellipse
    pi x 350000 x 150000 x 250 = 4.1233 x 10^13 m^3
    pi x 550000 x 300000 x 500 = 2.5918 x 10^14 m^3
    pi x 400000 x 200000 x 500 = 1.2566 x 10^14 m^3

    The sum total is 4.2607 x 10^14 m^3
    American chalks 90% coccoliths 10% shale
    European chalks are 99 percent coccoliths; 1% is shale see (Peter A. Scholle, Michael A. Arthur and Allan A. Ekdale, "Pelagic Environment," in Peter A. Scholle, Don G. Bebout, Clyde H. Moore, Carbonate Depositional Environments, (Tulsa: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 1983), p.640)
    This is 3.8346 x 10 ^14 m^3. Divided by the surface area of the earth 5.11 x 1014 m^2, yields enough to cover the earth to .75 meters thick.

  10. Thomas H. Clark and Colin W. Stearn, The Geological Evolution of North America, (New York: The Ronald Press, 1960), p. 86-88.
  11. Robert H. Dott, Jr. and Roger L. Batten, The Evolution of the Earth, (St. Louis: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1971), p. 307.
  12. D. A. Brown, K. S. W. Campbell and K. A. W. Crook, The Geological Evolution of Australia and New Zealand, (New York: Pergamon Press, 1968), p. 158.
  13. Raymond Furon, The Geology of Africa, translated by A. Hallam and L. A. Stevens, (London: Oliver S. Boyd, 1963), p. 146.
  14. D. V. Nalivkin, Geology of the U. S. S. R., translated by N. Rast, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p. 334.
  15. Roland Brinkmann, Geologic Evolution of Europe, translated by John E. Sanders, (New York: Hafner Publishing Co., 1960), p. 46. see also Figure 14.
  16. Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, op. cit., p. 273-277.
  17. See Martin J. S. Rudwick, The Meaning of Fossils, (New York: Neale Watson Academic Publications, 1976), p. 82.
  18. Rudwick, The Meaning of Fossils, p. 83.

When one looks at the amount of organic carbon on the earth, we find that it is many times more than exists in the current biosphere and from the above it is many times more than even a lush environment could allow.

petroleum nonreservoir 200 x 10^18 g carbon
Petroleum reservoir 1 x 10^18 g carbon
Coal 15 x 10^18 g carbon
Carbonate rocks 51,000 x 10^18 g carbon
living things .3 x 10^18 g carbon
J.M. Hunt, ""Distribution of Carbon in Crust of Earth, p. 22

Most of the carbon in carbonate rocks comes from the remains of animal life.

The picture shows the limestone chock full of crinoids. this is from NW England in the Lake District.

Encrinite Lake District