©1986 by Paul D. Ackerman   http://www.creationism.org/ackerman/

 10 - Forests in Stone?


... Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he
shall direct thy paths.  Proverbs  3: 5-6


–   UPDATE 2002  -  This Chapter Inserted for the Web Version   –

Each year millions of tourists visit the Yellowstone National Forest. Among the amazing wonders of Yellowstone is an apparent series of 27 distinct forests entombed within the mountains. The best vantage point for observing this wonder is Specimen Ridge. At numerous points in the mountainous area around Specimen Ridge, petrified trees jut up out of the ground. Embedded in the stony layers are innumerable fossilized tree trunks, many of them entombed in an upright position as though they had been buried in place as they grew.

The U.S. Park Service has adopted an evolution-based scenario for explaining the entombed trees, and this scenario is explained on tourist plaques and in information brochures found around the park area. According to this evolutionist interpretation, Specimen Ridge records events that occurred about 50 million years ago. One plaque reads as follows:

Across the valley rise the slopes of Specimen Ridge, but the forest you see there today is only the latest chapter in a remarkable story. Buried within the volcanic rocks that compose the mountain are twenty-seven distinct layers of fossil forests that flourished 50 million years ago.

Sporadic volcanic eruptions occurring over a period of about 20 thousand years buried many successive forests under blankets of ash and volcanic debris. ... Many stumps still stand upright in the same sites where they grew millions of years ago.1

In other words, the evolutionists are claiming that millions of years ago a forest grew at Specimen Ridge, but was then buried by a massive volcanic eruption. Then, on the new, raised ground level, a second forest grew. Later, this forest was buried by another volcanic eruption. Now, on the third ground level, a third forest grew and was later buried by a third volcanic eruption. This process was repeated for 27 distinct forests.

The evidence militates against the “27-buried-forests” view. The fossilized tree trunks at Specimen Ridge do not have developed root systems. Rather the roots terminate abruptly about three feet from the base of the trunk forming a root ball as is found when trees are forcibly ripped out of the ground. Also, there is little evidence of 27 fossilized forest floors with leaves and twigs, worm and insect burrows, etc. The appearance of the fossil tree trunks is consistent with having been uprooted from some other location and transported in along with the sediments that make up Specimen Ridge. If this is what happened, then there would be no need for long ages of ground preparation and forest growth between depositional episodes. Rapid burial of the entire formation would be a plausible interpretation. If rapid burial within a geologically short span of time is true, the mystery remains as to why so many trunks are buried in upright positions suggesting live, growing trees standing in an ancient forest.

The Specimen Ridge fossilized tree trunks are reminiscent of the enigmatic polystrate fossils discussed in the previous chapter. Polystrate (i.e. "many-layer") fossils are evidence against an old earth because their existence argues that the several layers encasing them had to be deposited quickly, and at one time. In order to produce a fossil, an organism must be buried rapidly so as to seal it off from the decomposing affects of air, insects, bacteria, etc. Prior to the Mount St. Helens eruption, scientists were at a loss to explain how so many uprooted and dead trees might come to buried in an upright position. Discoveries at Spirit Lake, in the blast site immediately north of Mount St. Helens, revealed the answer.

Back to Mount St. Helens

When the nine-hour eruption of Mount St. Helens abated, a scene of unbelievable destruction extended over an area of 150 square miles. From the air the ground surface of the formerly pristine forest appeared as millions of giant toothpicks littered over the rolling, mountainous terrain. A closer look revealed that the "toothpicks" were stripped and uprooted tree trunks.

The blast from the north slope of the volcano was so hot--over 350 degrees in its interior--and so powerful--moving at about 200 miles per hour--that the trees in its path were stripped clean of foliage and snapped off cleanly at the roots. The 350 degree heat of the steam cloud was so hot that it vaporized the foliage but was moving so fast that the trunks themselves were not burned, but only "toasted." After the eruption the surface of Spirit Lake, located about 3 miles north of the volcano, was covered with a two-square-mile floating carpet of uprooted trees. In the years following the eruption, research on these floating trees helped unlock the mystery of Specimen Ridge.

Over time, the floating trees become waterlogged and sink to the lake bottom. The surprising discovery was the way in which many of the logs sank. At first, all the logs were floating in the expected prone position. However, as they became saturated, some absorbed water more quickly into the root portion making it heavier such that they rotated into an upright floating position. Then, with further saturation, these trees would sink to the bottom and “plant” themselves into the soft lake sediment. New sediments washing in with each rain would bury the upright trees ever more deeply into the lake bottom. Trees that would sink at a later time would be buried higher in the sediment as though comprising a later forest. Though occurring on a much smaller scale, these observations are suggestive of what is observed at Specimen Ridge. Sonar readings and other data gathered by scuba divers revealed that 20 to 40 thousand upright trunks were planted at the bottom of Spirit Lake by 1985. Scientists estimate that at least ten percent of the tree trunks at the bottom of Spirit Lake have been deposited in the upright position.

For more technical information on Specimen Ridge and the findings at Spirit Lake go to:

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