The FAST Project

The FAST project (Flood Activated Sedimentation and Tectonics) was a geology research project funded by ICR’s NCSF (National Creation Science Foundation). It began in 2006 and involved about a dozen geologists and geophysicists, both ICR staff, students, and adjunct scientists. The scientists involved in the FAST project were:

  Dr. Steven A. Austin Dr. Clarence Burg
  Dr. John H. Whitmore Dr. Tim L. Clarey
  Mr. Raymond Strom Dr. John Morris
  Mr. Paul Garner Mr. Bill Hoesch
  Mr. Van Wingerden Mr. D. D. Stansbury
  Mr. Roger Sigler  

Dr. Steven Austin directed the project, which addressed catastrophic processes distinctive during the Genesis Flood that left features that can be studied in the rock strata yet today. Austin defined four subprojects in the following manner and provided a brief status of each as of January 21, 2010:

Power word 1: Supercurrent—A very large mass of rapidly moving ocean water that was able, because of speed and turbulent flow, to sweep up and move enormous quantities of sediment within a current.

Power sentence 1: During the global Flood described in Genesis, the ocean was propelled as supercurrents over large continental areas as the deep, fast-moving ocean mass swept up, moved and deposited sand in enormous dune-like structures, producing widespread sandstone layers.

Power abstract 1: FAST researchers participating in the Coconino Sandstone project are documenting the sand-grain composition, the sand-grain texture, and large-scale current structures in sandstone in the southwestern United States. The researchers believe the evidence verifies the notion that the grains, textures, and structures were formed under fast-moving ocean waters, not in a desert sand dune environment by wind. The current structure being studied is called cross-bedding and is characteristic of the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon. A deep-water supercurrent flowed southward at about three feet per second over the Grand Canyon Region in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. The sandstone stratum even extends into Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The supercurrent deposited an estimated 10,000 cubic miles of sand over an area of 200,000 square miles.

Power word 2: Superflow—An enormous mass of slurry composed of about half sediment and half entrained ocean water that moved by gravity like a giant mudflow over the ocean floor.

Power sentence 2: During the global Flood described in Genesis, enormous slurries of sediment and water were propelled by gravity over the ocean floor, very quickly depositing both coarse and fine sediment layers.

Power abstract 2: FAST researchers have discovered superflow to be one of the major ways sediment was moved during the global Flood. Sediment was moved under the ocean as thin but extensive slurries resembling mudflows. These slurry bodies moved at about 20 feet per second, retained laminar shear internally, developed “lift” from their streamlined shape, and created enough dynamic pressure to generate a hydroplane. Superflows were incredibly energy efficient at moving sediment. These flows are being simulated using computer modeling. As superflows slowed down, they lost their lifting force and hydroplane, and they became turbulent and frictional. Once turbulent and frictional, these flows deposited thick sediment layers in minutes, not millions of years. Three superflow deposits are being studied by FAST scientists: 1) a fossil-rich, seven-foot thick limestone layer within the Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon; 2) a mile-thick conglomerate deposit on the plate-boundary fault in southern Alaska; and 3) a remarkable rock stratum called “puddingstone” within the Kingston Peak Formation in the Mojave Desert of Southern California.

Power word 3: Megaflood—A colossal flow of fresh water usually overtopping a river valley and spilling widely across upland areas.

Power sentence 3: As glaciers melted rapidly in the post-Flood glacial period, megafloods quickly sculpted a wide variety of familiar depositional landforms and a variety of familiar erosional landforms.

Power abstract 3: During the time of the rapid post-Flood glaciation, enormous meltwater floods were released from water trapped under the ice and from temporary lakes marginal to the ice. FAST research is focused on three landforms diagnostic of catastrophic flood flow: drumlins, rat-tails, and streamlined erosional residuals. Research is focused on a landscape in British Columbia. FAST researchers also have experience with megaflood evidences in the Channeled Scabland of eastern Washington, the Snake River plain in Idaho, and the Santa Cruz River of Argentina.

Power word 4: Superfault—A fracture within the earth along which there has been both extremely large and very rapid displacement during a single catastrophic event.

Power sentence 4: During the global Flood, gigantic blocks of earth’s crust collapsed along rupture surfaces called superfaults, with displacement being so far and so fast that friction actually liquefied and melted rock!

Power abstract 4: FAST research is demonstrating that modern faults do not slip very far or very fast as compared to ancient faults. Modern magnitude 8 earthquakes typically have thirty feet of displacement, with the rupture producing only broken rock powder by the friction. No melted rock is produced by modern magnitude 8 earthquakes. Ancient earthquakes occurred on fault surfaces where displacements exceeded thousands of feet in a single event. These huge rupture events produced superearthquakes on superfaults. Superfaults do not have just rock powder, but evidences of liquefied and melted rock phases within the fault surface. Therefore, friction generated in ancient faults is significantly more, and heat could not be conducted away from the fault surface fast enough—so fault rocks were melted! FAST scientists are studying liquefied rock on fault surfaces in mountains east of Yellowstone (Heart Mountain and South Fork detachment faults) and melted rock in faults on Kodiak Island, Alaska (Border Ranges Fault Zone). Colossal collapse events were associated with the global Flood.

The FAST project was disbanded as a formal ICR research effort in 2010, but several of the individual scientists continue to conduct field work and report on their findings in various journals and conferences. Prior to the FAST project, Dr. Austin completed multiple research projects during his long tenure as Research Scientist at ICR. His interests included major geology studies at Grand Canyon,1, 2, 3, 4 Mount St. Helens,5, 6, 7 Yellowstone National Park,8 Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite National Park, Alaska, Argentina,9 and Israel.10

He and his students were responsible for developing a young-earth catastrophic Flood model for the formation of the strata exposed at Grand Canyon. He discovered an extensive layer of fossilized nautiloids midway down the Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon, which invalidated the conventional explanation for the its formation in an ancient, placid sea. He developed an explanation for the rapid formation of Grand Canyon by the catastrophic release of entrapped Flood waters in the basins of northern Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. He critiqued conventional long-age dates derived from radioisotope dating for rocks in the Grand Canyon, and was a member of the RATE project, which developed a young-earth explanation for the age of the earth.

Dr. Austin made numerous trips to Mount St. Helens before and after it erupted in 1980, and investigated numerous geologic processes that supported a catastrophic Flood model, such as rapid erosion of solid rock; deposition of multiple sedimentary layers; and the development of fossil forests from upright tree layers in the bottom of Spirit Lake. His research on upright tree layers led to a revision to the conventional explanation for the formation of the fossil forests in Yellowstone National Park.

Dr. Austin’s interest in Yellowstone National Park was mainly centered on the processes associated with the quiescent 30-mile diameter caldera located there. He extended his studies from Mount St. Helens to Yellowstone and Mammoth Lakes to understand the roles volcanoes played in the events of the Genesis Flood. He found that the volume of rock erupted from the explosive volcano in Yellowstone (Huckleberry Ridge Tuff) was 2,500 times greater than that from Mount St. Helens. The fallout also covered an area many times larger. The amount of blowoff from Huckleberry Ridge and Lava Creek in Yellowstone, Long Valley in Mammoth, Crater Lake, and Mount St. Helens over time illustrated the declining power with time of explosive eruptions in the Sierra Nevada.

Dr. Austin and Dr. John Baumgardner explored the tectonic cataclysms on the western margin of North America. Austin’s field activities in the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, and Wrangellia in Alaska, and Baumgardner’s modeling studies with TERRA provided ample evidence for massive plate motions and upheavals that are believed to have occurred during the Genesis Flood. The driving force for plate motions was hypothesized to be density differences between the earth’s lower crust and the mantle that led to catastrophic sinking of crustal plates. These motions led to circulations in the mantle and the formation of mid-ocean ridges and volcanoes.

Dr. Austin made several field trips to the Santa Cruz River in southern Argentina, where Charles Darwin first began to develop his ideas on the theory of evolution. Dr. Austin found that Darwin misinterpreted the erosional and depositional features of the Santa Cruz River as slow and gradual modification over millions of years rather than catastrophic bursting of ice dams in the headwaters of the Andes. Darwin’s error led to his later development of evolution in the beaks of finches in the Galapagos Islands.

Dr. Austin also traveled to Israel several times to help find Sodom and Gomorra and identify earthquake faults in the Dead Sea area. He located a north-south fault line that ran through “the cities of the Plain” at the southeastern end of the Dead Sea and may provide an explanation for the eruption of fire and brimstone that destroyed Sodom and Gomorra. Recently, after leaving ICR, he located a north-south fault on the western side of the Dead Sea near Masada that may have occurred at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, leading to several hours of darkness from the dust thrown into the air.

Dr. Austin and Dr. Russell Humphreys published an article on estimating the age of the earth from the salt in the ocean. They considered the sources and sinks of salt entering and leaving the ocean and how low it may have taken.11 They estimated the maximum age of the oceans from its salt content to be less than 50 million years, giving the benefit to all the assumptions made by evolutionary scientists. This is much greater than the 4.5 billion years calculated by conventional means.

Dr. Austin worked closely with Dr. Baumgardner on the tectonics of the earth, and especially in the western United States.12, 13 Dr. Baumgardner published a number of articles on his numerical modeling studies of tectonics and the Flood, and looked at the effects on mountain building in the Sierra Nevada and Alaska.

In addition to his major contributions to the RATE project, Dr. Andrew Snelling also explored the effects of accelerated decay on the formation of granites. He found that the rapid formation of radiohalos also implied rapid cooling of granites. The rapid cooling of granite plutons in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere requires a major revision to the theory of mountain building. Dr. Snelling reported on his various research projects in several articles14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and in a two-volume set of books entitled Earth’s Catastrophic Past.20


  1. Austin, S. A., 1994. Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe. Santee, CA: Institute for Creation Research.
  2. Austin, S. A. 2003. Nautiloid Mass Kill and Burial Event, Redwall Limestone (Lower Mississippian), Grand Canyon Region, Arizona and Nevada. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism. Ivey, Jr., R. L., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 55-100.
  3. Austin, S. A. and K. Wise. 1994. The Pre-Flood/Flood Boundary: As Defined in Grand Canyon, Arizona and Eastern Mojave Desert, California. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism. Walsh, R. E., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 37-47.
  4. Austin, S. A. 2005. Do Radioisotope Clocks Need Repair? Testing the Assumptions of Isochron Dating Using K-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, and Pb-Pb Isotopes. In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Research Initiative. Vardiman, L., A. A. Snelling and E. F. Chaffin, eds. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society.
  5. Austin, S.A. 1986. Mount St. Helens and Catastrophism. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism. Crowell, R. S., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 3-9.
  6. Austin, S. A. 1984. Rapid Erosion at Mount St. Helens. In Origins. 11 (2): 90-98. Geoscience Research Institute, 11060 Campus Street, Loma Linda, CA 92350.
  7. Austin, S. A. 1996. Excess Argon within Mineral Concentrates from the New Dacite Lava Dome at Mount St. Helens Volcano. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. 10 (3): 335-343.
  8. Austin, S. A. 1998. The Declining Power of Post-Flood Volcanoes. Acts & Facts. 27 (8).
  9. Austin, S. A. 2009. Darwin's First Wrong Turn. Acts & Facts. 38 (2): 26.
  10. Austin, S. A. 2010. Greatest Earthquakes of the Bible. Acts & Facts. 39 (10): 12-15.
  11. Austin, S. A. and D. R. Humphreys. 1990. The Sea's Missing Salt: A Dilemma for Evolutionists. In Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism. Walsh, R. E. and C. L. Brooks, eds. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 17-33.
  12. Austin, S. et al. 1994. Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism. Walsh, R. E., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 609-621.
  13. Baumgardner, J. 2003. Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: The Physics Behind the Genesis Flood. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism. Ivey, R. L., Jr., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 113-126.
  14. Snelling, A. A. and M. H. Armitage. 2003. Radiohalos: A Tale of Three Granitic Plutons. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism. Ivey, R. L., Jr., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 243-267.
  15. Snelling, A. A., S. A. Austin and W. A. Hoesch. 2003. Radioisotopes in the Diabase Sill (Upper Precambrian) at Bass Rapids, Grand Canyon, Arizona: An Application and Test of the Isochron Dating Method. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism. Ivey, R. L., Jr., ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 269-284.
  16. Snelling, A. A. 2005. Radiohalos in Granites: Evidence for Accelerated Nuclear Decay. In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Research Initiative. Vardiman, L., A. A. Snelling and E. F. Chaffin, eds. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society.
  17. Snelling, A. A. 2005. Fission Tracks in Zircons: Evidence for Abundant Nuclear Decay. In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Research Initiative. Vardiman, L., A. A. Snelling and E. F. Chaffin, eds. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society.
  18. Armitage, M. H. and A. A. Snelling. 2008. Radiohalos and Diamonds: Are Diamonds Really for Ever? In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship and Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 323-334.
  19. Snelling, A. A. and D. Gates. 2009. Implications of Polonium Radiohalos in Nested Plutons of the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite, Yosemite, California. Answers Research Journal. 2 (2009): 53-78.
  20. Snelling, A. A. 2009. Earth’s Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation, & the Flood. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research.

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