Mudcracks and the Flood | The Institute for Creation Research

Mudcracks and the Flood

Some people have an intellectual problem with the Flood because of mud cracks. We have all seen cracks that form in a dried (or "desiccated") mud puddle. But did you know mud cracks are also found in sedimentary rocks that are interpreted as Flood strata? Were there "droughts" during the Flood?

Mud is the familiar wet and sloppy stuff that children love to play in. Geologists give it a more formal definition: a mixture of water, silt, and clay that may be either semi-fluid or soft and plastic. The conversion of mud to mudstone involves, primarily, a loss of water. Loss of water, in turn, results in shrinkage cracks. Water expulsion from mud is actually a matter of intense interest to oil explorationists, whose job is to try to track the history of fluid movements in the subsurface (including both water and hydrocarbons). There is much that is not understood about the process. "Shrinkage cracks" that form when muds give up their water can form in at least three kinds of settings:

1. Mud cracks that form under the open atmosphere ("sub-aerial"). These are the common cracks of dried mud puddles: they are called "desiccation cracks." Shrinkage takes place when water is driven into the atmosphere by evaporation. The resulting cracks often form a polygonal pattern (individual polygons may reach 300 meters across) and are typically v-shaped profile (can be 15 meters deep). In some cases, but certainly not all, mud curls (either upward or downward) can form between the cracks; these can be picked up and redeposited if the surface is flooded.

2. Mud cracks that form underwater (sub-aqueous). Syneresis is a term used by chemists to describe the separation of liquid from a gel (as in cheese making). Its importance as a process for dewatering muds has been known by geologists for over 70 years. "Syneresis cracks" are known to form in the muddy bottoms of some lakes, settling ponds, and even in lime muds beneath shallow marine waters in the Bahamas. Water loss is driven by osmosis, and so it is especially known to occur in saline lakes (immerse your hands long enough in a salty brine and you will get cracks of the same kind). Unless mud curls are present, these are extremely difficult to distinguish from desiccation cracks.

3. Mud cracks that form while buried (sub-stratal). This kind of crack is generated when a mud loses its water while in a buried state. Water can be pressed from the mud layer gradually by compaction from above, or released suddenly by earthquake shock. The resulting cracks tend to form a polygonal pattern (when exposed from above), they may be either lens-shaped or straight-sided in profile view, and they may penetrate upward, downward, or both. Syneresis can also play an important role in some sub-stratal cracks when one layer differs from another in the salinity of its inter-particulate water. Sub-stratal cracks have been positively identified in multiple levels in the Hermit Shale and Hakatai Shale in Grand Canyon.

Mud cracks can certainly form in a variety of environments and distinguishing them in the field is rarely easy. It is a gross error to assume by default that mudcracks in ancient strata formed by desiccation when we know they can form both sub-stratally and sub-aqueously. Mud cracks provide no evidence of "droughts" during the Flood.

* William A. Hoesch, M.S. geology, is Research Assistant in Geology.

Cite this article: William A. Hoesch, M.S. 2006. Mudcracks and the Flood. Acts & Facts. 35 (11).

The Latest
NEWS
Is Evolution ‘Fake Science’?
The organization BioLogos, which advocates that Christians accept secular evolutionary claims, recently published an online essay entitled “How to...

NEWS
Cambrian Explosion Alive and Well
A new editorial in GSA Today is claiming that secular scientists should cease using the term “Cambrian Explosion.”1 It’s not...

NEWS
Abraham Ate Bananas?
Since the word banana does not occur in Scripture, any evidence of bananas in ancient Middle Eastern diets would have to come from the ground. New research...

NEWS
3-D Human Genome Radically Different from Chimp
All plant and animal genomes studied so far exhibit complex and distinct three-dimensional (3-D) structures in their chromosome configurations depending...

NEWS
Amazonian Artwork and the Post-Flood Ice Age
An extensive series of South American Ice Age artwork may be of interest to biblical creationists. In 2017 and 2018, scientists discovered a nearly eight-mile-long...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Dinosaurs
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

NEWS
Inside January 2021 Acts & Facts
How is ICR winning science and scientists back to Christ? What is the significance of fossil bone collagen discoveries? Did pterosaurs have feathers?...

ACTS & FACTS
Savvy Sons of Light
Many Christians grow uncomfortable when their pastor teaches about money. If it’s any consolation, I know many pastors who feel the same way....

ACTS & FACTS
Did God Make Harmful Parasites in the Beginning?
Parasites are a unique form of life in today’s world. These invertebrates come in all shapes and sizes, from single-cell animals (e.g., Plasmodium...

APOLOGETICS
False Hypotheticals—Beyond Darwin's Imagination
Don’t believe it if someone tells you that a pair of “walking whale”-like mammals trudged off the Ark and later procreated a line...