by Stephen Caesar
Scientists who believe the Bible have always maintained that river gorges (the largest and most famous being the Grand Canyon) were formed extremely rapidly and catastrophically, a sure sign of the Genesis Flood. Scientists who reject Genesis, on the other hand, believe that they formed slowly, over the millennia, by the gradual, normal passing of river waters through them (known as uniformitarianism). Recent studies of two river gorges along the U.S. Atlantic coast have vindicated the Creationists.
The July 24, 2004, issue of Science News reported that these gorges "were carved out over a geologically short period, according to analyses of rock samples from the chasms" (Perkins 2004: 52). Geologist Luke J. Reusser of the University of Vermont analyzed quartz from the walls and channels of the Mather Gorge on the Potomac River and the Holtwood Gorge on the Susquehanna River. He and his colleagues measured the amount of beryllium-10 in the quartz. Beryllium 10 is an isotope that is produced when oxygen-bearing minerals like quartz are exposed to cosmic rays at Earth's surface. According to Science News, the erosion rates that Reusser found "are tens of hundreds of times faster than scientists had suspected" (ibid.).
The cause of this rapid erosion of the gorges was likely the catastrophic movement of water. This water, scientists theorize, may have come from the melting of the glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, as Science News reported: "Only a small part of the current erosion results from the abrasion of water-borne sediment, says Reusser. Much of the sculpting occurs when strong floods pluck loose chunks of rock from the gorges' cracked walls and channels.
Creationists have long associated the Great Ice Age with the Flood. It either occurred immediately before, as part of, or immediately after the Genesis cataclysm. The massive, rapid melting of these glaciers may have played a significant part in the Noahic Flood. Either way, uniformitarian theory proves to be inadequate.
Perkins, S. 2004. "Quick Bite." Science News, vol. 166, no. 4.
Stephen Caesar holds his master's degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.authorhouse.com.