Still Trying to Explain the Great Unconformity | The Institute for Creation Research
Still Trying to Explain the Great Unconformity
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has again tried to explain a global erosional surface known as the Great Unconformity.1 This boundary surface marks a major gap in the rock record between Precambrian rocks below and younger sedimentary rocks above.

The global nature of the Great Unconformity has continued to be one of the great mysteries of secular geology. Uniformitarian scientists have struggled to explain how this major erosional event could have occurred on every continent nearly simultaneously.

“Researchers have long seen this as a fundamental boundary in geologic history," said senior author Rebecca Flowers, associate professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.2

In 2019, other secular researchers claimed that the Great Unconformity can be explained by a massive episode of Late Precambrian glaciation, called “Snowball Earth.”3 They argued that globally about 3-5 vertical kilometers (2-3 miles) of rock was removed by glaciers between about 717 and 600 million years ago in three separate glaciations, creating the Great Unconformity.3

Others are not so convinced, including most Flood geologists. In fact, this latest study by Flowers et al. actually contradicts the earlier findings completely.1 Flowers and her team concluded that much of the erosion took place before the time period of “Snowball Earth” and that multiple regional Great Unconformities may have formed instead.1

Flowers explained:

We're left with a feature that looks similar across the world when, in fact, there may have been multiple great unconformities, plural. We may need to change our language if we want to think about the Great Unconformity as being more complicated, forming at different times in different locations and for different reasons.2

So, it appears that uniformitarian scientists still cannot agree on what formed the global Great Unconformity. It remains one of the largest and most extensive enigmas in geology. Is it simply because they do not want to believe there was a global Flood?

The global Flood is still the best explanation for the universal nature of the Great Unconformity. To make this extensive erosional surface, a significant portion of the Precambrian surface material, and some of the pre-Flood sedimentary rocks, must have been stripped off a majority of the world’s continents, simultaneously, before the deposition of the overlying Sauk megasequence (Cambrian rocks).4 This may have been caused by the torrential rains that occurred in the first 40 days of the Flood and/or by the erosive action of tsunami-like waves propagating across parts of the continents.

In many locations, the Sauk megasequence resides on the Great Unconformity and marks the onset of the “Cambrian Explosion.” The Cambrian Explosion is as mysterious to secular geologists as the Great Unconformity.4 Recall, the Cambrian Explosion is the location in the rock record where prolific life of all sorts suddenly shows up as fossils. This first occurred in the Sauk megasequence, and in particular in the Cambrian System in many locations. Fossils appear to have exploded onto the scene and in rocks for the first time in the Cambrian, hence the name.4

The global Flood left its undeniable mark on all the continents. A universal erosional surface immediately covered by fossil-filled sedimentary strata adds up to strong evidence for the Flood. This evidence is clearly visible to those who haven’t closed their eyes to the truth of God’s Word.

Stage image: The Great Unconformity in Manitou Springs, CO.
Stage image credit: CNN
. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.

1. Flowers, R.M. et al. Diachronous development of Great Unconformities before Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Posted on April 27, 2020, accessed May 4, 2020.
2. Strickland, A. 2020. Big chunks of history (and rock) are missing in North America, study says. CNN World. Posted on April 27, 2020, accessed May 4, 2020.
3. Keller, C. B. et al. 2019. Neoproterozoic glacial origin of the Great Unconformity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (4): 1136-1145.
4. Clarey, T. 2020. Carved in Stone. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 202-204.

*Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in geology from Western Michigan University.
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