Shark Jaw Opens Questions about Coal Formation | The Institute for Creation Research

Shark Jaw Opens Questions about Coal Formation

While bolting the roof of a coal mine in western Kentucky, miner Jay Wright found an 18-inch-long fragment of a fossil shark jawbone with teeth still attached. The local National Public Radio affiliate WKMS reported that "Wright has seen smaller fossils and sea shells in the mine, but nothing like an ancient shark bone."1

The standard textbook story is that coal seams were formed when millions of years of plant debris accumulated into peat bogs at the bottom of ancient swamps.

"The partial decomposition of plant remains in an oxygen-poor swamp creates a layer of peat, a soft, brown material in which plant structures are still easily recognized. With shallow burial, peat is changed to lignite, a soft, brown coal," according to one textbook.2

But if that's the case, then how did a huge shark find its way into a swamp?

The standard coal-formation scenario presents other unexplained puzzles. For example, modern peat bogs are thoroughly penetrated by roots. Coal seams show no trace of these root masses.3 And today's swamp peats do not contain sea shells!

Geologist Stephen Austin proposed an alternative scenario for coal formation, one that fits the data much better than the swamp idea: A catastrophic flood event ripped up whole ancient forests, and then transported plant and animal debris into low-lying areas. A subsequent series of tsunami-like waves then carried sediments over the top of the plant debris.

In the context of a worldwide flood, as described in Scripture and relayed in countless legends among people groups around the globe, sea creatures would have mixed with land plants as seawater flooded onto the continents. And the associated rapid transport and deposition of plant material would explain both the absence of peat-like roots in coal deposits and the flat, sharp contacts between coal seams and sedimentary rock layers immediately above and below them. These flat layers look nothing like the cross-section of swamp peat soils, but they could have been deposited together as part of a single massive watery catastrophe.

The plausibility of this explanation is demonstrated by a fairly recent geologic event. A layer of peat comprised mainly of tree bark accumulated in the bottom of Spirit Lake below Mount St. Helens after its 1980 eruption.3 It was the product of a catastrophic steam blast and is not penetrated by roots. This shows that plant matter can accumulate rapidly into layers that resemble coal seams. If Spirit Lake were to drain and a heated mudflow were to cover the peat, one wonders if the resultant coal would look any different from that found in earth's sedimentary layers.

One continuous Pennsylvanian coal seam, the largest in the world, extends from where Mr. Wright was working in western Kentucky across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, southern Iowa, Kansas, and into northeast Oklahoma.4 Transporting that much plant matter seems to demand a watery catastrophe on the scale of a worldwide flood as a sufficient cause.

The chief characteristics of coal seams…including their composition, layout, and extent…are amply explained by the massive energy associated with a global flood as described in Genesis. And what clearer indication could there be of the insufficiency of regional swamp models than marine fossils such as a shark jaw embedded in the coal? The Genesis flood account still holds the best answer.

References

  1. Angel, B. Shark Fossil Found in Western Kentucky Coal Mine. WKMS. Posted on publicbroadcasting.net April 7, 2011, accessed April 12, 2011.
  2. Tarbuck, E. J. and F. K. Lutgens. 1993. The Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology, 4th ed. New York: MacMillan, 551.
  3. Austin, S. A. 1986. Mt. St. Helens and Catastrophism. Acts & Facts. 15 (7).
  4. "Broken Arrow coal (Oklahoma), Croweburg coal (Missouri), Whitebrest coal (Iowa), Colchester No. 2 coal (Illinois), Coal IIIa (Indiana), Schultztown coal (W. Kentucky), Princess No. 6 coal (E. Kentucky), and Lower Kittanning coal (Ohio and Pennsylvania). These form a single, vast seam of coal exceeding one hundred thousand square miles in area in the central and eastern United States. No modern swamp has an area remotely approaching the great Pennsylvanian coals." Nevins, S. E. 1976. The Origin of Coal. Acts & Facts. 5 (11). At an average thickness of under four feet, this single seam contains over 70 cubic miles of coal. This would fill 180,000 of the now fallen New York City World Trade Center towers with very densely packed vegetation.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on April 19, 2011.

The Latest
CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Forged in Faith: The Hard Work of Making Disciples | Creation.Live...
Jesus commanded that we make disciples, but what does that mean in this modern world? Has the church gone soft?   Hosts Trey and...

NEWS
Algal Microfossils Show No Evolution
Creation scientists maintain that if something is living, then it’s automatically complex. This applies to organisms ranging from a single bacterium...

CREATION PODCAST
Rapid Erosion Devastates Deep Time! | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
Erosion takes place slowly, over millions of years, right? That's what mainstream science tells us anyway. Or, does erosion happen far more...

NEWS
Flood Solves Land and Marine Mixing Near the Andes
A recent article published by Hakai Magazine claims to reveal secrets of an ancient inland sea that existed east of the Andes Mountains,1...

NEWS
T. rex Out of Nowhere
As one of the largest predators ever at 45 feet long, it’s no wonder school children are enthralled with Tyrannosaurus rex. But where did the...

NEWS
February 2024 ICR Wallpaper
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 John 4:11 NKJV) ICR February 2024 wallpaper is now available...

NEWS
Evolutionist and ICR Research Both Attempting to Explain Fossil...
Recent evolutionary research is attempting to provide an explanation for why some animals became smaller over time. Or equivalently, it is attempting...

NEWS
Animal Features Did Not Evolve
There’s no doubt that animals in God’s creation have iconic features. The question is, did these features evolve or were they created that...

CREATION PODCAST
Taking a Closer Look at Uniquely Human Eyes | The Creation Podcast:...
While we might take them for granted, our eyes are incredibly complex organs. How do they work? Is it possible for eyes to have evolved over long...

NEWS
The Conserved Complexity of Eye Cell Types
The late leading evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, said the eye appeared at least 40 times “during the evolution of animal diversity.”1...