by Bill Nugent
The road markers describing the formation of the petrified trees at Specimen Ridge in Yellowstone National Park in western US have been changed. The new markers describe a rapid burial and petrifaction of the trees that is more compatible with a young age of planet earth. The change was prompted by evidence from the Mount St. Helens eruption. This is not to say that the National Park service has suddenly embraced the young earth paradigm but it is a step in that direction.
The Mount St. Helens eruption (actually a series of eruptions in the early 1980s) resulted in a violent rapid transport and burial of thousands of logs in volcanic ash which contained large amounts of silica.
The most common way wood is petrified is to be buried deeply under pressure under volcanic ash. Hot water borne silica is forced into the wood and surrounds each tree cell turning it to stone. This was once thought to require a long period of time. In recent years however, geologists have observed petrifaction to occur rapidly in nature. Petrifaction is also easily duplicated in the laboratory by injecting silica into wood.
Specimen Ridge in Yellowstone Park contains 27 layers of sediment containing many well preserved petrified logs. A study of the tree rings of logs of various layers shows a remarkable similarity of ring patterns. Tree rings being narrowly spaced indicate a period of drought and wider spaced rings indicate a period of abundant rain. The tree rings of the logs at Specimen Ridge correspond to such a degree that they indicate that they grew at the same time and not in successive forests that lived thousands of years apart as old earth evolutionists have long maintained.
The trees at Specimen Ridge, like those at Mt. St. Helens, were buried rapidly in several mud and ash flows from a volcano. The layers of sediment were not laid down centuries apart but in all probability were laid down within months or at most within a few years. It is very encouraging that the Park Service responded to the overwhelming evidence and corrected the explanatory markers to show rapid burial.
Petrified logs are fossils and they also are stone. The study of petrifaction reveals rapid fossilization and rapid lithification. (Lithification means to turn to stone.) There is abundant evidence of a huge volcanic eruption or series of eruptions that occurred at what is now Yellowstone Park. Some geologists believe it was 2,000 times as powerful as what occurred at Mount St. Helens. This catastrophic event resulted in rapid deposition of sediment that turned to stone. Animal and plant remains were quickly fossilized.
Genesis 7:11 tells us that “all the fountains of the great deep”were broken up. Many Bible scholars and Bible believing geologists consider this passage to refer to volcanic activity that occurred during the great flood of Noah’s day. The actual mechanism that the Lord used to bring the flood may have been a huge comet or asteroid that passed very close to earth so that the gravitational pull of the comet or asteroid caused the earth to be thrown off its axis and thereby caused the oceans to temporarily flood the continents. This violent shifting of the earth also could have caused the earth’s crust to be convulsed and tear apart thus causing the volcanic activity.
The old earth view of North American geology is that a very large portion of North America was at one time a tranquil sea and over a long period of time sediments eroded off of land and were deposited at the bottom of the tranquil sea. Then at some point the whole ocean bed uplifted and became what is now North America. This old earth scenario has many problems including the questions about where did the sediments erode from and why do we not see thick sediment beds at the bottom of today’s oceans. Most present day ocean erosional sedimentation is confined to small areas adjacent to river deltas.
Many Ph. D. scientists believe that the Bible’s historical record of catastrophic events and chronology better explain the fossil and geologic evidence. These scientists regard volcanic and flood borne sedimentation a better explanation for earth’s geology than any of the old earth tranquil sea scenarios. Much of the material in this article was obtained from Footprints in the Ash: The Explosive Story of Mount St. Helens by John Morris Ph. D. and Steven A. Austin Ph. D.