Sunday, March 4, 2012

Crinoids on Mount Everest?

The crinoid is a marine animal whose name means "formed like (in the form of) a lily-flower." Fossilized crinoids are very common around the world, but there are also still many species of crinoid in the oceans today -- the image above shows a modern-day crinoid and is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Some live at depths greater than 19,000 feet!

Crinoid fossils and other marine fossils have been found on top of almost every mountain range on earth. In fact, crinoid fossils have even been found at the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. This 1967 article from Geological Magazine entitled "The Highest Fossils in the World" explains that some of the first successful expeditions (by the Swiss in 1956 and Americans in 1963; the first confirmed successful attempt to reach the summit was of course that of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953) to the summit of Everest brought back geological samples which contained fossilized crinoids.

The presence of such marine fossils on top of extremely high continental mountain peaks -- including the highest mountain peak on earth -- is very difficult to explain using conventional uniformitarian models of geology. When they are discussed at all, these fossils are usually given what we used to call in the Army "a hand wave" -- that is, a shallow or vague explanation of a subject that deserves much greater detail of explanation (the term "hand wave" is a negative term for something that should be treated in great detail, but which is passed over without much detail in the hopes that others will not question it; in a briefing prior to a military operation, one should not pass over important aspects of the operation with a mere "hand wave," but this is the way marine fossils on top of high continental mountains are usually treated).

Conventional geology tries to explain away the extremely vexing evidence of marine animal fossils on top of Mount Everest (and many other high continental mountains) by saying that today's Mount Everest was once the floor of an ancient sea, called the Tethys Sea (a proposed ocean, first invented as part of a proposed explanation for the breakup of the proposed landmass called Pangaea [aka Gondwana], and named after an ancient Greek ocean goddess, Tethys). It is suggested that later tectonic forces pushed the Himalayas (including Mount Everest) to their current heights (the summit of Everest is just over 29,000 feet above sea level).

However, the vague assertions about an ancient sea being slowly pushed upwards to create today's Himalayas typically do not go into the level of detail necessary to fully explain the fossils on top of Everest and other mountains around the globe. As Walt Brown, the originator of the hydroplate theory (a theory proposing that the events surrounding a catastrophic flood were responsible for the geological evidence we see on our earth today), writes in the online version of his book (which he makes available at no cost for all to read and examine for themselves):
Fossilized sea life lies atop every major mountain range on earth—far above sea level and usually far from the nearest body of water. Attempts to explain “seashells on mountaintops” have generated controversy for centuries.

An early explanation was that a global flood covered these mountains, allowing clams and other sea life to “crawl” far and high. However, as Leonardo da Vinci wrote,b under the best conditions, clams move too slowly to reach such heights, even if the flood lasted hundreds of years. Also, the earth does not have enough water to cover these mountains, so others said that some sea bottoms sank, leaving adjacent sea floors (loaded with sea creatures) relatively high—what we today call mountains. How such large subterranean voids formed to allow this sinking was never explained. Still others proposed that sea bottoms rose to become mountains. The mechanisms, forces, and energy required to push up mountains were likewise never explained. Because elevations on earth change slowly, some wondered if sea bottoms could rise miles into the air, perhaps over millions of years. However, mountaintops, which experience destructive freezing and thawing cycles, erode relatively rapidly—and so should fossils slowly lifted by them. Also, mountaintops accumulate few sediments that might blanket and protect such fossils. Some early authorities, in frustration, said the animals and shells grew inside rocksc—or the rocks simply look like clams, corals, fish, and ammonites. Others denied the evidence even existed. Today, the evidence is usually ignored.
These are very powerful arguments. Conventional theorists who glibly propose that water once covered all the areas on earth that now have marine fossils must explain how there was enough water to cover the entire earth -- were there no ocean basins millions of years ago? If so, what uniformitarian mechanisms created a place for all that water to go? The basaltic material found beneath the ocean is very different from the granitic material that underlies the continents, so simply saying that the tops of the Himalayas (and other mountain ranges worldwide) were once sea-bottoms is not a satisfactory explanation. These are the kind of vague "hand waves" that are used by conventional geologists to try to explain away these fossils -- often accompanied by intimidating Latinate geological terms, such as in page 324 of this text, which tells us that:
The present outcrops of the late Palaeozoic tilloids of the Eastern himalaya and Nepal are all allocthonous. Their broad trend is parallel to the mountain axis, tentatively indicating subparallel disposition of the basin. This basin is usually believed to have been located to the north of and physically connected with the intracratonic glacigenic basal Gondwana basins (i.e. Talchir Bouler Bed, Ahmad, this volume C17) of Peninsular India. However Gondwana sediments are typically absent in the intervening Ganga basin; where, the continental Neogene-Quaternary Himalayan molasse sediments directly overlie the ancient rocks of the Indian shield. Even in the few concealed Gondwana basins, e.g. the Purnea basin, the basal glacigenic Talchir Formation is unrepresented (Metre, 1968).

The fluvioglacial Talchir Formation (Asselian-Sakmarian) of the Peninsular Indian shield unconformably overlies Precambrian crystalline rocks or the Proterozoic platform sequences. However, fluxoturbiditic or molassic Gondwana tilloids, containing sporadic volcanoclastic sediments and associated sediments of the Eastern Himalaya, were deposited in continuity with the Daling geosynclinal sedimentation and associated orogenic activity, with local reworking of older beds (Acharyya, 1973, a, b).
Well, who can argue with that! This is an example of a very erudite hand-wave, with a lot of assertions but no real detail explaining how the difficulties pointed out by Dr. Brown were overcome: how did delicate fossils like crinoids survive the tens of millions of years of freezing and thawing as they were slowly (ever so slowly) pushed up from deep sea to heights of 29,000 feet above sea level? What tectonic plates were responsible for pushing these sea bottoms up to form the Himalayas? Even if there were some amazing confluence of uniformitarian forces which can explain these marine fossils on Mount Everest, why are marine fossils found on virtually every high mountain range in the world? Spewing long geolgical terms does not explain away these difficulties. Not only does the high erosion rates typical at extreme altitudes argue against the idea that these marine fossils have been up there for the millions of years necessary to push up the Himalayas by uniformitarian means, but it is also noteworthy that crinoids are still found in modern oceans in the same form that as these fossils of crinoids that supposedly lived millions of years ago (why they decided not to evolve into anything different in the ensuing millenia is not discussed).

On the other hand, the hydroplate theory explains the presence of these marine fossils on top of Everest and other high continental mountains quite satisfactorily (just as it explains many other difficult issues in geology that cannot be satisfactorily explained by conventional tectonic theory, such as the question of why ancient monuments such as the Giza pyramids, Stonehenge, Newgrange, Mnajdra and others are still aligned after several thousands of years of supposed continental drift, or how undersea canyons such as the Ganges Fan, the Indus Fan, and the Monterey Canyon were carved, or why the Grand Canyon plows right through a huge massif if it was really carved over tens of millions of years by a simple river the way we are supposed to believe it was, or why there are arc-and-cusp patterns in the deep ocean trenches that are impossible to explain by the action of subducting plates, or why -- if subducting plates really cause deep ocean trenches -- sophisticated modern gravity measurements find gravity vacuums under the trenches instead of gravity spikes the way one would expect if these trenches are really created by a diving oceanic plate).

The hydroplate theory explains why Everest itself is composed of sedimentary rock -- in itself a remarkable fact. It explains that the layered strata (with their rapidly buried fossils) were laid down during the global flood, that the events surrounding that flood caused the continents to drift away from the rupture that would become the Atlantic Ocean and towards the basin that would become the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and that the violent compression of these continents (and their sedimentary layers) pushed up the mountain ranges including the Himalayas. The theory argues that this flood event could have happened only thousands of years ago rather than tens or hundreds of millions of years ago -- solving the problems that uniformitarian explanations have (such as why the successive ages of annual freezing and thawing have not eroded all these ancient fossils away, and why there are still modern crinoids that look just like these supposedly extremely ancient crinoids).

This theory explains the preservation of fossils in the first place -- which do not generally form under normal conditions and which pose a real problem for uniformitarian theories (normal conditions plus lots of time do not create fossils). Its explanation for a rapid creation of the Himalayas is also crucial to the understanding of what caused earth's "Big Roll" (the evidence for which has been discussed in several other posts such as this one and this one, and which other analysts have tried to explain using theories such as the "earth-crust displacement" theory or theories which involve Venus bouncing off of the earth in an ancient time).

Crinoid and other marine fossils found atop Mount Everest thus join a long line of other pieces of evidence which appear to support the hydroplate explanation and which appear to damage the credibility of the conventional explanation for the geological evidence we see in the world around us.