Real Science Friday on Mt. St Helens

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Jefferson

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Real Science Friday on Mt. St Helens

This is the show from Friday May 14th, 2010.

BEST QUOTES OF THE SHOW:
Mt. Saint Helens is a wake-up call telling us the slow and gradual thinking pattern in geology is junk food for the brain. We don't need to think that way. We should think about catastrophic process. That's what Mt. Saint Helens does.
On the 5th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens I was invited to speak to 1000 geologists in Calgary about the volcano. And at the end of my talk I sat down and the convener said, "We need to introduce catastrophe theory back into geology." You could hear a pin drop. People know we need to think this way. It's just reluctance.

SUMMARY:

* ICR's Dr. Steven Austin on BEL: Bob Enyart interviews the senior research scientist from the Institute for Creation Research, Dr. Steven Austin, about his groundbreaking research at Mt. St. Helens, research which forced the hand of the National Park Service to remove their infamous sign about the petrified trees at Yellowstone, and which formed an important part of the pressure forcing geologists to incorporate catastrophism back into their understanding of Earth's past. Get Dr. Austin's extraordinary DVD, Mt. St. Helens from Bob Enyart Live, and not only will you love this fabulous science video, but you'll be helping to support BEL! Tonight, Dr. Austin is speaking in person at the Rocky Mountain Creation Fellowship!

* Today's Resource: Have you browsed through our Science Department in the KGOV Store? Check out especially Walt Brown'
In the Beginning and Bob's interviews with this great scientist in Walt Brown Week! You'll also love Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez' Privileged Planet (clip), and Illustra Media's Unlocking the Mystery of Life You can consider our BEL Science Pack; Bob Enyart's Age of the Earth Debate; Bob's debate about Junk DNA with famous evolutionist Dr. Eugenie Scott; And the superb kids' radio programming, Jonathan Park: The Adventure Begins! And Bob strongly recommends that you subscribe to CMI's tremendous Creation magazine!
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Canyons formed quickly by a little lake are little. How are big canyons formed...? :think:
 

Flipper

New member
Why would there be meanders in the grand canyon if it was caused by the catastrophic failure of some inland sea flood artifact?

Meanders are a low energy feature.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Why would there be meanders in the grand canyon if it was caused by the catastrophic failure of some inland sea flood artifact?

Meanders are a low energy feature.

The great thing about high energy events is that when they have finished their initial burst they turn into smaller versions of themselves. The force involved dissipates over time until what was once a cataclysm settles down into a bit of a trickle. :up:
 

Granite

New member
Mmmm, and the examination of massive meteor and asteroid strikes on this planet is an example of scientists being reluctant to contemplate catastrophes throughout history?

Riiiight...
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Mmmm, and the examination of massive meteor and asteroid strikes on this planet is an example of scientists being reluctant to contemplate catastrophes throughout history?

Riiiight...
:squint:

You think a meteor caused Mt. St. Helens to erupt?
 

fool

New member
Is there any way to tell the difference between two cars that crashed at 2 kph and two cars that crashed at 100 kph?
(Question asked in metric as a courtousy to teh forigners)
 

fool

New member
On the 5th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens I was invited to speak to 1000 geologists in Calgary about the volcano. And at the end of my talk I sat down and the convener said, "We need to introduce catastrophe theory back into geology." You could hear a pin drop. People know we need to think this way. It's just reluctance.

This is like saying that crash investigators need to stop assuming that cars are parked all the time.
 

Flipper

New member
This is like saying that crash investigators need to stop assuming that cars are parked all the time.

Do you guys really, honestly think that geologists and other scientists aren't aware of or aren't interested in evidence for local and global catastrophes in the earth's history?

Here's the wiki entry that gives you the background of and evidence for a large local flood caused by the collapse of a land bridge between the Black Sea and the Atlantic. You know, exactly the sort of thing being alluded to in this Mount St Helens/Grand Canyon thing.

The difference is, there is reasonable geological evidence to support the argument that the Black Sea and Atlantic became joined in an event that could have been quite dramatic. There is no similar evidence to support such an event in the Grand Canyon.

On the contrary, the Grand Canyon is a serious problem for creationists, what with all those land animal tracks and wind-blown trace features occurring midway up the "flood" deposits. Pretty weird global flood, that.

And do you seriously believe that the many researchers studying the five major extinction events this earth has seen across the eras are somehow not interested in catastrophes?
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Try zooming in on that map, then start looking down the course of the canyon. You can see current meanders and the shapes of older ones.
Try dropping "lat link" markers.

You mean at 36.3945, -111.8731?
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Do you guys really, honestly think that geologists and other scientists aren't aware of or aren't interested in evidence for local and global catastrophes in the earth's history?

You seem to be picking a rather benign angle here. If you want to agree with us couldn't you just do so and move on?

Got any more specific locations on that map for us to look at?
 

Flipper

New member
Try dropping "lat link" markers.

You mean at 36.3945, -111.8731?

Sorry I wasn't so quick to reply - had to prepare for a job interview.

Yeah, that's a nice example of a meander. It's interesting to see that the whole canyon shape conforms to the curve.

Or there's a system of meanders here: 36.32027,-112.747307
or here: 35.822434,-113.640633
or here: 36.230594,-112.693748

You can also see smaller feeder canyons like the Supai: 36.230594,-112.693748

What caused those? Smaller run-off lakes? If it was a tributary river then why wouldn't a larger river cause a bigger canyon?

I don't know why I had to look these up, it is pretty self-evident that the GC shows the path of a meandering river. And, as the river meanders, it cuts a wider swathe through the canyon floor over a long period of time than the river bed itself might lead you to believe.
 

Flipper

New member
You seem to be picking a rather benign angle here. If you want to agree with us couldn't you just do so and move on?

Got any more specific locations on that map for us to look at?

I don't really agree with you, because you seem to trace 90% of the earth's geological history to a single catastrophe 6,000 years ago, a catastrophe story that flies in the face of the available evidence and that no one would believe for a second if they didn't feel they were mandated to by a religious text.

I, on the other hand agree with the certainty that catastrophes can and do happen in the earth's history. Some are historically verifiable (like Pompeii or Thera), others, like Chixculub and other meteor strikes, the Deccan traps or the Bosphorus flood tell their stories by way of the geological evidence.

Things, as they say, happen.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
Sorry I wasn't so quick to reply - had to prepare for a job interview.

Picking apples was getting a bit monotonous, was it? :D

Yeah, that's a nice example of a meander. It's interesting to see that the whole canyon shape conforms to the curve.
The whole canyon from where to where?

Or there's a system of meanders here: 36.32027,-112.747307
or here: 35.822434,-113.640633
or here: 36.230594,-112.693748
You can also see smaller feeder canyons like the Supai: 36.230594,-112.693748

What caused those? Smaller run-off lakes? If it was a tributary river then why wouldn't a larger river cause a bigger canyon?
I would say:
36.32027,-112.747307 & 35.822434,-113.640633 are exactly as you say .. meanders that will dictate exactly the flow rate and volume that created them given the nature of the sediment they are cut into. And might I suggest that the size of those meanders indicates a much greater volume and flow than is currently available.

36.230594,-112.693748 (Supai) is very interesting because it is a very localised feature. It has a tiny creek that leads up to it and then cuts right down into the GC. This branch must have been created at the same time as the rest of the canyon, not by some other flow.

I don't know why I had to look these up, it is pretty self-evident that the GC shows the path of a meandering river.
It does, in places. What you're going to have to account for are the places where it doesn't meander. Up at the top, in the Marble Canyon (36.618, -111.756) there are distinctly no meanders. Clear evidence of a very large and powerful flow. Just as the meanders are clear evidence of a very large but less powerful flow. Exactly what you'd expect from the sudden release of a lot of water.

You're also going to have to account for the canyon within a canyon at this point. There's the formation we see which carries the river. Then there is the event that carved out the sediment between the two walls to the north and south. Zoom out and the two canyon walls create a large funnel that narrow toward the northeast.

And, as the river meanders, it cuts a wider swathe through the canyon floor over a long period of time than the river bed itself might lead you to believe.
Actually meanders do not cut at the floor. They erode the walls. It takes a great flow of water to remove and incise downward into a riverbed, but little effort to erode the walls. There is no way the Colorado river, even at full flood, could have incised to any significant depth.

I don't really agree with you, because you seem to trace 90% of the earth's geological history to a single catastrophe 6,000 years ago, a catastrophe story that flies in the face of the available evidence and that no one would believe for a second if they didn't feel they were mandated to by a religious text.

Not at all. There is no need to call upon a global flood in order to account for the features we see. All you need is a couple of large continental lakes and isostatic equilibrium. You do agree that there might have once been more lakes on the States than there are now, right? :)

Of course accounting for the lakes might require a bit of fancy dancing to be able to insist that globe wasn't covered... :think:

:chuckle:

I, on the other hand agree with the certainty that catastrophes can and do happen in the earth's history. Some are historically verifiable (like Pompeii or Thera), others, like Chixculub and other meteor strikes, the Deccan traps or the Bosphorus flood tell their stories by way of the geological evidence. Things, as they say, happen.

Your criticism is unwarranted. If we both agree that, as they say, stuff happens, and we both agree that it can happen quickly then we can deal with the evidence. No need to mock people for their belief in God as if that somehow makes your argument for you. :up:
 

Flipper

New member
Picking apples was getting a bit monotonous, was it? :D

WhyyyyIoughta...

The whole canyon from where to where?

From 36.377787,-112.481575 to 36.242778,-112.391624 seems a pretty good example. There are others.

You can see that the whole direction of the canyon changes. It seems to me that if this had been caused by the fast egress of a large amount of water through semi-soft sediment, this feature wouldn't exist.

And might I suggest that the size of those meanders indicates a much greater volume and flow than is currently available.

Well I think we both agree that meanders aren't static, in that once a river meanders, that loop doesn't just stay put. As I understand it, they undulate (shape and type of the terrain permitting).

Like you (and you mention this later), I am also interested by the relatively straight sections of the canyon. I note that many features in these sections are identified as "rapids", which suggests a faster flowing section, perhaps because of a gradient change in the Vishnu granite and schist bedrock or by a change in characteristics of the rocks that the river had to cut through first (igneous intrusion, narrower canyon due to a greater depth of softer sandstone, so creating more force in the canyon area), but without more details I'm just guessing.

Still, it seems to me that the whole canyon should be like this if it were created in the way that many creationists seem to believe.

36.230594,-112.693748 (Supai) is very interesting because it is a very localised feature. It has a tiny creek that leads up to it and then cuts right down into the GC. This branch must have been created at the same time as the rest of the canyon, not by some other flow.

Well I don't dispute that the Colorado river and its tributaries have had higher volumes of water flowing through them for long periods of time, probably for prolonged periods over multiple occasions. I don't believe the feature was created in a short period of time in barely solidified sediment.

It does, in places. What you're going to have to account for are the places where it doesn't meander. Up at the top, in the Marble Canyon (36.618, -111.756) there are distinctly no meanders. Clear evidence of a very large and powerful flow. Just as the meanders are clear evidence of a very large but less powerful flow. Exactly what you'd expect from the sudden release of a lot of water.

Yes, it is interesting. But why wouldn't the whole canyon show this feature consistently?

You're also going to have to account for the canyon within a canyon at this point. There's the formation we see which carries the river. Then there is the event that carved out the sediment between the two walls to the north and south. Zoom out and the two canyon walls create a large funnel that narrow toward the northeast.

I could guess and say that where the river cut through thicker sections of more easily eroded sedimentary rock, but that's a guess unless there's a side-section photo of the canyon at this point.

Actually meanders do not cut at the floor. They erode the walls. It takes a great flow of water to remove and incise downward into a riverbed, but little effort to erode the walls. There is no way the Colorado river, even at full flood, could have incised to any significant depth.

Yeah, I remembered that from geography classes long in my past. But they do cut as the gradient deepens in the higher energy part of the curve and remember, conventional geology has it that the colorado plateau was also being uplifted at the time of the GC formation, so the river cuts 'down' through the sediment.

Not at all. There is no need to call upon a global flood in order to account for the features we see. All you need is a couple of large continental lakes and isostatic equilibrium. You do agree that there might have once been more lakes on the States than there are now, right? :)
Oh sure. Lakes have come and gone just as seas have. It's just that there's no actual geological evidence for the lakes that the ICR's Steve Austin believes once existed to provide the drainage water.

Of course accounting for the lakes might require a bit of fancy dancing to be able to insist that globe wasn't covered... :think:

Minnesota is filled with lakes, but no explanation other than glaciation is needed to provide a rationale for their existence.

Your criticism is unwarranted. If we both agree that, as they say, stuff happens, and we both agree that it can happen quickly then we can deal with the evidence. No need to mock people for their belief in God as if that somehow makes your argument for you. :up:

You know, I have zero problem with people believing in God. In fact, I am somewhat sympathetic to a theistic position. I don't think being a Christian means that you can't be a great scientist or a rational thinker. That would be ridiculous.

However, the young earth position seems to be one of complete cognitive dissonance, and, on occasion, I find myself exasperated by it.

In the case of this thread, it appeared to be the assumption that catastrophes have happened in the history of the earth came as a complete surprise to geologists.

Still, it's my recollection that you and I have mostly been courteous in our discussions.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
From 36.377787,-112.481575 to 36.242778,-112.391624 seems a pretty good example. There are others.
OK. The whole canyon in that section conforms to a meander, one big, backwards 'S'. But that 'S' is over 20km long! You're going to need a vastly greater flow to account for that geomorphology.

And I mean vast.

If you zoom in you can see meanders that might be created by something the size of the Colorado river. Between Fossil and Specter Rapids in the middle of the 'S' and the Kanab and Fishtail Rapids at the top (downstream). In rivers all over the world you will be able to see this kind of feature. Small scale meanders sketched within the confines of monster scale meanders. We should rightly account for the small scale meanders with the river as it is, and look for more water to account for the large scale features.

You can see that the whole direction of the canyon changes. It seems to me that if this had been caused by the fast egress of a large amount of water through semi-soft sediment, this feature wouldn't exist.

It wasn't. The fast exit feature is the funnel and the straight section to the northeast. The parts you're looking at are lower energy features. Although 'lower energy' is a bit of a strange thing to say about a fast moving river hundreds of kilometres wide... :chuckle:

Well I think we both agree that meanders aren't static, in that once a river meanders, that loop doesn't just stay put. As I understand it, they undulate (shape and type of the terrain permitting).
I guarantee you that the big backward 'S' is completely static. No length of time with current flows will ever migrate that meander.

Like you (and you mention this later), I am also interested by the relatively straight sections of the canyon. I note that many features in these sections are identified as "rapids", which suggests a faster flowing section, perhaps because of a gradient change in the Vishnu granite and schist bedrock or by a change in characteristics of the rocks that the river had to cut through first (igneous intrusion, narrower canyon due to a greater depth of softer sandstone, so creating more force in the canyon area), but without more details I'm just guessing.
You're assuming current flows did the job. And you're only going to get no meanders in a river defined by something other than water (unless that water is escaping like from a gigantic firehose).

A fault, for instance, can constrain a river into a straight section.

Still, it seems to me that the whole canyon should be like this if it were created in the way that many creationists seem to believe.

Yes, it is interesting. But why wouldn't the whole canyon show this feature consistently?

For the simple fact that water escaping from a funnel feature has the most erosive force near the funnel. Once it spreads out away from the funnel that energy is more widely distributed.

Well I don't dispute that the Colorado river and its tributaries have had higher volumes of water flowing through them for long periods of time, probably for prolonged periods over multiple occasions. I don't believe the feature was created in a short period of time in barely solidified sediment.
Would you like to see the evidence that it was created quickly, through both soft and hard sediment?

Yeah, I remembered that from geography classes long in my past. But they do cut as the gradient deepens in the higher energy part of the curve and remember, conventional geology has it that the colorado plateau was also being uplifted at the time of the GC formation, so the river cuts 'down' through the sediment.

Uplift will not change erosion processes. Rivers will prefer to erode their banks before their beds at any elevation.

In the case of this thread, it appeared to be the assumption that catastrophes have happened in the history of the earth came as a complete surprise to geologists.

Perhaps not all, and perhaps not a surprise. But it is completely accurate to say that catastrophic and swift formation processes are generally not considered until all possibility of a million year theory has been discounted.

Still, it's my recollection that you and I have mostly been courteous in our discussions.

I can be nice if I try really hard. :D
 
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