With his father in prison, Eric Hovind has taken over the creationist franchise and is making arguments every bit as idiotic as dear old dad. With flooding in Pensacola, Florida, Eric is claiming that the mere fact that lots of rain washes away sand proves that the Grand Canyon could have been made the same way. Here’s a video of him spouting this nonsense:
Not the sharpest bulb in the sign, to say the least. This is an even dumber version of geologist Steve Austin’s incredibly dishonest arguments about the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, which created Engineer’s Canyon when water burst through an earth dam. The creationist argument goes something like this: “Hey, that created a bunch of layers really fast. The Grand Canyon has a bunch of layers too. That proves that the layers of the Grand Canyon were created really fast too.” To call this bullshit would be insulting to bullshit.
Yes, places like Engineer’s Canyon, formed by the St. Helen’s eruption, have “layers”, but those layers are all made up of materials typically found in volcanic eruptions – mud, ash, debris, and so forth. A geologist who didn’t witness the eruption would still look at those formations and easily recognize them as all being associated with a volcanic eruption.
The Grand Canyon’s “layers”, on the other hand, are not all comprised of material one would associate with a volcanic eruption. In fact, they are comprised of a vast series of strata of different types, each requiring a distinct and long-lasting depositional environment in order to have time to form. The bottom layer is the Vishnu Group, mostly granite and precambrian rock. Above that, it’s all sedimentary rock, each layer deposited in an entirely different environment, in roughly this order from the bottom up:
Tapeats Sandstone: This is the oldest of what is called the Tonto Group, large strata formed at the edge of an ancient body of water called the Tonto sea. 300 feet thick, comprised of near-shore and sandbar deposits from the edge of that sea.
Bright Angel Shale: 325 feet thick, full of trilobites and other brachiopod and mollusk fossils, as well as lots of tracks, trails and burrows from animals. Formed in a shallow marine environment as the Tonto sea encroached further on land.
Muav Limestone: The last of the Tonto Group formations. 375 feet thick, with more trilobite and brachiopod fossils and yet more invertebrate tracks and trails. This was deposited as the Tonto sea encroached even further on the land.
Redwall Limestone: 500 feet thick. Like most limestones, this one is made up of the shells of sea creatures, made of calcium carbonate, after they die and settle to the bottom of a shallow sea. A 500-foot thick limestone takes an incredibly long time to form and it’s not possible for all of those sea creatures whose dead bodies are in the formation to have lived at the same time. This formation requires a shallow, relatively tranquil marine environment for a very long period of time in order to form.
Supai Group: 900 feet thick and a variety of different types of formations, most of them eolian (meaning wind-blown) desert sandstones. Most of this formation was formed on dry land, though part of it is was formed underwater as part of a river delta going into the sea.
Hermit Formation: 300 feet thick. Like the Supai Group, this is made up of a number of different types of rock depending on where you are in the canyon. There are lots of animal tracks and burrows, as well as mudcracks and raindrop imprints, which shows that parts of this formation was exposed as dry land at times. There are also a lot of plant fossils, which is quite a problem for any creationist explanation based on the ability to flee raging flood waters.
Coconino Sandstone: 350 feet thick. This is an eolian desert sand dune formation, a massive system of ergs that stretches all the way to Montana. One obviously has to ask how on earth such a massive desert formed in the middle of a global flood, as the creationist explanation requires.
Toroweap Formation: 250 feet thick. The most diverse of all the canyon formations in terms of different types of sediments, the result of a shallow sea advancing and retreating over a large land area (that’s why there are gypsum and salt deposits, which evaporate as the sea retreats). The water moved in from the West and as you go West in this formation you find marine fossils of various types, including snails, clams and shellfish.
Kaibab Formation: 350 feet thick. Another shallow marine limestone and dolomite formation, with sandstone toward the East (obviously part of the shoreline, a mixture of eolian and subaqueous sandstones). Shallow marine fossils, as one would expect.
So, what does all this mean for the claim that Mt. St. Helen’s formed a “miniature Grand Canyon”? It means this is positively laughable. The layers of ash and mud formed by the eruption is not at all analogous to the vast strata of the Grand Canyon. This isn’t comparing apples to oranges, it’s comparing apples to meteors. The only reason this lie works is because the average creationist reading ICR material doesn’t have the foggiest idea that the different strata of the Grand Canyon requires entirely different depositional environments in order to form.
The rocks that make up the Grand Canyon formed over the course of 250 million years or so, as the environment changed radically over vast periods of time. Sometimes a shallow sea, sometimes a vast desert. It did not form – indeed, could not have formed – in a single event, especially a huge flood. 25,000 square mile deserts, such as the one that forms the Coconino Sandstone, don’t just pop up in a few days and then disappear, especially in the middle of a flood for crying out loud. These lies only work on the geologically ignorant.