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The theory of uniformitarianism states that the geological formations we see on Earth today came into existence over millions of years through the slow, gradual action of natural forces. Catastrophism posits exactly the opposite: that the features we see on the surface of the world today came about rapidly, through massive natural disasters. In the nineteenth century, uniformitarianism replaced catastrophism as the dominant theory in geology.

In recent years, as has been discussed numerous times in this column, catastrophism has made a comeback, based on numerous discoveries showing that major geological formations, including the Grand Canyon, were formed by the sudden, overwhelming action of massive flooding. Now, geologists have witnessed for themselves how this type of catastrophic flooding creates major geological formations in a single natural disaster. As reported by the July 17, 2010, issue of Science News, 'An unexpectedly large canyon carved in just three days by a Texas deluge may help scientists estimate the size of ancient megafloods believed to have sculpted terrain on both Earth and Mars' (Perkins 2010: 15).

In July 2002, 'record flooding' in central Texas caused Canyon Lake, a dammed reservoir northeast of San Antonio, to overflow its banks. According to Caltech geologist Michael P. Lamb and his colleague Mark Fonstad, a hydrologist at Texas State University, the ensuing rush of water carved a 2.2-kilometer-long canyon downstream of the dam. Over the course of three days, the deluge carved out a canyon from 40 to 60 meters wide, with an average depth of 7 meters. In total, the sudden flood scooped out roughly 460,000 cubic meters of earth material, nearly half of which was solid rock (Ibid.).

The journal further reported: 'The torrent was so intense that it plucked large, flat-sided blocks of limestone up to a meter across from the bedrock. During the flood's peak, water flowed through the canyon at a rate that would have filled 20 Olympic-sized pools each minute….In the lower half of the canyon, the deluge sculpted streamlined islands of material resembling those found in areas stricken by much larger floods on Earth…' (Ibid.)

This is a perfect example of catastrophism, not only because it created a major geological formation in such a short time, but also because it happened before our very eyes, with no concern over speculation, doubt, or controversy. In the words of Alan D. Howard, a geomorphologist at the University of Virginia, 'It doesn't take millions of years to create an impressive channel. Flowing liquid can do a lot of work in a short period of time' (Ibid.)


Perkins, S. 2010. 'Texas flood carves canyon in days.' Science News 178, no. 2.

Editorial Note
This regular feature, 'Investigating Origins,' is not intended to be a full-fledged defense of biblical creationism and the global flood in the days of Noah. It is a brief commentary on recent evolutionary and long-age speculations, typically found in secular publications. ABR's position is that all life began exactly as described in the early chapters of Genesis, by the power of God, ex nihilo, in six 24-hour days. For more detailed information on this, visit off-site: How Old is the Earth?

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