Corals and Caves
Estimated old ages for the Earth are frequently based on “clocks” that today are ticking at extremely slow rates. For example, coral growth rates were thought to have always been very slow, implying that some coral reefs must be hundreds of thousands of years old. More accurate measurements of these rates under favorable growth conditions now show that no known coral formation need be older than 3,400 years (a). A similar comment can be made for growth rates of stalactites and stalagmites in caves (b).
Figure 135: Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. “... one of the most controversial points is how long it takes for a cave such as S.P. [Kartchner Caverns in Arizona] to form. What geologists used to believe was fact, in terms of dating a cave, now is speculation, [cave expert, Jerry] Trout says. ... From 1924 to 1988, there was a visitor’s sign above the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns that said Carlsbad was at least 260 million years old. ... In 1988, the sign was changed to read 7 to 10 million years old. Then, for a little while, the sign read that it was 2 million years old. Now the sign is gone. In short, he says, geologists don’t know how long cave development takes. And, while some believe that cave decorations such as S.P.’s beautiful icicle-looking stalactites take years to form, Trout says that through photo-monitoring, he has watched a stalactite grow several inches in a matter of days.”
Figure 27: Stalagmites. Water from an underground spring was channeled to this spot on a river bank for only one year. In that time, limestone built up around sticks lying on the bank. Limestone deposits can form rapidly if the groundwater’s chemistry is favorable. Just because stalactites and stalagmites are growing slowly today does not mean they must be millions of years old. As we will see in Part II, conditions after the flood provided the ideal chemistry for rapidly forming such features.
a. Ariel A. Roth, “Coral Reef G
rowth,” Origins, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1979, pp. 88–95.
J. Th. Verstelle, “The Growth Rate at Various Depths of Coral Reefs in the Dutch East Indian Archipelago,” Treubia, Vol. 14, 1932, pp. 117–126.
b. Ian T. Taylor, In the Minds of Men (Toronto: TFE Publishing, 1984), pp. 335–336.
Larry S. Helmick, Joseph Rohde, and Amy Ross, “Rapid Growth of Dripstone Observed,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 14, June 1977, pp. 13–17.
[From “In the Beginning” by Walt Brown]