Modern Geological Evidence Undermines the Chronology of Geologic Column

Bhakti Niskama Shanta Swami, Ph.D.
Sri Chaitany Saraswat Math


To illustrate the timing and relationships between events that have taken place throughout the history of the globe geologists, paleontologists and other earth scientists use geologic time scale represented by rocks, which provides the system of chronologic measurements. Geological column is also known as the stratigraphical column and is the most commonly used representation for separation of geological time (Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary). Uniformitarianism doctrine was first proposed by James Hutton in his “Theory of the Earth” in 1795 and developed further by Charles Lyell in “Principles of Geology,” first published in 1830. This doctrine explains that changes in the earth’s surface that took place in past geologic time are referable to the identical causes as changes now being produced upon the earth’s surface. Following this geologists believe that sediments are being laid down little by little now, so they must have for all time been laid down little by little. Hence certain thickness of sedimentary rock must symbolize millions of years of time. This representation of earth’s surface as “onion skin” with successive layers representing the events throughout the history of the globe was never substantiated with enough experimental or empirical evidences. The recent developments in the field providing the greatest challenge to this widely used primeval methodology. Present paper is a brief technical communication to help the researchers aware of the recent developments in geology and its implication on chronology of geologic column.


'The Origin of Species' was published by Charles Darwin in 1859. This had lead to a radical change in the people's perception about life and world. Darwin's idea entered very deeply into the modern thinking and for last 150 years the only major focus of biologists is to uphold the Darwinian vision intact. Evolution is a word not limited to biological evolution. Scientists claim that our universe and solar system is evolved from explosion of matter (Big bang theory) and chemical elements have evolved from simple matter. First life has evolved from dead chemicals (Abiogenisis), and complex organisms from simpler forms (Biological evolution).

Historical Background in Development of Darwinian Evolution Theory


The cerebral ambiance during Darwin's time played a vital role in the development of his theory. A number of natural historians were beginning to speculate that perhaps evolutionary changes are the cause of the pattern observed in nature. Meanwhile, geologists started elucidating more about the age of the strata and suggested a time sequence, with younger strata overlying older strata. Using this as a basis geologists started calculating the age of earth. Continuous fossil findings revealed unknown living species (for example giant dinosaurs). Cuvier reported that a particular species can be detected in a certain strata and this sequence is unique. Hence, he constructed a chronology based on the depth of strata.[1] Similarities in different groups of organisms were recognized as proof for relatedness (evolutionary relationships) by naturalists. The predecessors in the line of Darwin failed to come up with a satisfactory explanation to describe evolution. Among them Lamarck is well known. He most famously cited the giraffe example and proposed a mechanism based on the inheritance of acquired characteristics to explain adaptive changes.[2] All these developments in that era played a role of catalyst in development of Darwinian evolution theory.

Darwinian Evolution Theory and Its Foundation

The major contribution of Darwin was that he could convince people in his time about biological evolution by proposing mechanism based on natural selection[3] and he supplied fossil records as major evidence[4] for his theory. He further extended his thoughts in line of his theory to provide an explanation for history of life on earth and biodiversity. He claimed that species change over space and time. From the fossil records he explained that species that are living today are quite different than those lived in past. Hence far enough back in time any pair of organisms shares a common ancestor. He also explained that evolutionary changes are gradual and slow. This was supported by fossil record evidence. At that time no naturalist had observed a sudden appearance of a new species. Darwin had not ruled out the Lamarckian view of inheritance of acquired characteristics. However latter it was rejected by Weismann and Wallace.[5] Hence, Neo-Darwinism is a term introduced to describe the modern synthesis of Darwinian evolution thorough natural selection along with Mendelian genetics. However, that did not change the fact that, Darwin's evolution theory stands only on the basis of evidences derived from fossil records.

Role of Geological Chronology in Evolution Theory

Generally most people are not aware of the real and imaginary parts of the evolution theory. Variation known as microevolution (within a species) is the real part and big changes known as macroevolution (one species leading to another) is the imaginary part. The beaks of birds, colors of moths, leg sizes, etc are the characteristics which can be recognized as microevolution. There should not be any problem to accept microevolution because we do observe them in nature. However, the imagination of Darwinian evolution theory extends very far and claims that these small changes will gradually lead to a new species. From animal and plant breeding experiments it is well known that there are strict limits to variation which are never crossed. Following Darwin obviously an evolutionist will say that we cannot see the macroevolution now because it takes place very slowly (tens of thousands of generation). However, smaller organisms are found to exhibit faster mutation rates.[6] Hence, we can experimentally verify whether macroevolution takes place or not in such cases. We can take bacteria as a case study. Bacteria are found to grow as quickly as 12 minutes or up to 24 hours and more in almost all types of environments. We can test the bacteria generation after generation but there is not a single case reported in the entire literature where they turn into some thing else. They always remain bacteria. Scientists also studied fruit flies and they never turn into anything new. In addition, the fossil record is nowhere near complete and can never be. Convincing transitional forms are never observed. Fossils appear abruptly in geologic column. Very rarely are organisms preserved as fossils in their best of circumstances. The number of species known through fossil records is insignificantly small as compared to total species. The fossil record is also most uneven. Organisms without hard parts (like worms) can only be represented very inadequately in fossil records. Following Darwin's ideas that evolutionary changes are gradual and slow, often macro evolution is explained on the scale of geological time (millions of years).[7] The obvious question is how can we know that the fossil is millions of years old? To answer this evolution theory must take the help of geological chronology. Radiometric dating and Stratigraphy are the two pillars of geological chronology. We will explain the status of these two pillars of geological chronology in separate sections below.

Is Radiometric Dating Trustworthy?

A general notion among academic circle is that radiometric dating is extremely trustworthy. But the reality is completely reverse. Carbon-14 (C-14) dating is commonly employed to date the age of fossils. The major problem with C-14 dating in the context of evolution theory is that it cannot give an age of millions of years to a fossil because its half-life period is only 5,730 years (approximately).[8] Anything beyond 50,000 years will lead to a situation where we even don't find enough specimen of C-14 in a fossil to do our tests. Most of the fossils found today contain C-14 and this proves that their age is less than 50,000 years. Furthermore, it is observed that different plants discriminate the carbon dioxide containing C-14 differently.[9] This would require an impossible task of introduction of correction factor for each and every species to get an accurate age. The discovery of atom bombs and industrialization will add to a significant alteration of C-12/C-14 ratio in atmosphere. Hence disadvantageously it must depend on historical records. Some scientists suggest that radio isotopes (Uranium-Lead or Potassium-Argon) dating can be the alternative means for rating the age in millions of years. However, they can only be used to date the rocks and not to the fossils directly. Fossils are buried in sediments and if we can know the age of sedimentary rocks then we can give an age to the fossils. The major problem of radio isotopes dating is that we have no means to know the exact amount of parent and daughter isotopes present at the beginning. Furthermore, it is assumed that the system is closed so that none of parent and daughter isotopes leak to the environment. Most of the uranium salts are soluble in water.[10] Rocks are exposed to rain and moisture. Hence there is a maximum chance that they may get dissolved and lost into the atmosphere. In such cases we will get erroneous results when we use the sample for dating. Moreover, radioactivity is considered independent of temperature and pressure and hence this technique cannot be used for calculating the time taken for the solidification of magma. Finally the constant decay rate assumption is facing many recent challenges.[11] Researchers have reported that even mild alterations in the environment may affect the stabilities of C-14, Co-60 and Cs-137.[12],[13] Experiments way back in 1976 revealed the changes in nuclear decay rates caused by physical or chemical changes in the surroundings.[14] Changes in decay rates as high as 40% have been induced for certain nuclides.[15] Radiohalos are found with different diameters for the same type of inclusion, and this has been taken by some investigators to imply that decay rates have varied with time.[16],[17] The publication in science magazine also confirms that radiometric dating the pacemaker of geologic time can no longer be called precisely 'clocklike'.[18] Hence radiometric dating cannot be used reliably to give an age to the fossils and rocks.

Fundamental Experimentation in Sedimentation and Its Implications on Evolution Theory

In 1990 in his book A History of Geology Gabriel Gohau confirmed that rate of deposition of sediments determines the geological ages and not biological revolution or orogeny.[19] There on Stratigraphy remained the only basis of geological dating. In the 17th century Danish scientist Nicolas Steno formulated the basic principle of Stratigraphy based on three major assumptions: (1) Principle of superposition, (2) Principle of continuity, and (3) Principle of original horizontality.[20] Steno by assuming all rocks and minerals had once been fluid, theorized that rock strata were formed when sediments in a fluid such as water fell to the bottom. Obviously this method would lead to horizontal layers and is the reason why Steno's principle of original horizontality states that rock layers form in the horizontal position. Nicolas Steno also stated that if a solid body is enclosed on all sides by another solid body, of the two bodies that one first became hard which, in the mutual contact, expresses on its own surface the properties of the other surface. Steno's this explanation popularized the idea that fossils and crystals must have solidified before the host rock that contains them was formed. In geology a stratum is known as a layer of the rock with consistent uniqueness that distinguishes it from the adjacent layers. Following Steno's idea scientists believe that these parallel layers rest one upon another in the rocks due to natural forces. In cliffs, road cuts, quarries, and river banks strata can be characteristically observed as bands of dissimilar colors or differently structured substance. In general geologists analyze the rock strata by categorizing the layers with respect to the material content within them. Each layer represents a particular type of deposition of beach sand, sand dune, river silt, coal swamp, lava bed, etc. A typical stratigraphic column shows a series of sedimentary rocks, with the oldest rocks on the bottom and the youngest on top. Thus stratum is an essential fundamental element to study geologic time scale. Geologists, paleontologists and other earth scientists use the stratigraphic principle to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred during the history of the earth. Evolutionists recognize the age of the fossil in geologic time scale based on the vertical location of the strata from where fossil was discovered. Hence fossils obtained from the bottom of geologic column are recognized by evolutionists as ancient fossils.

Practical defects in Steno's assumptions


Steno's basic assumptions on which Stratigraphy stands were never substantiated based on either experimentations or empirical evidences. French sedimentologist Guy Berthault could recognize this fact and carried out the most fundamental experiments on sedimentation in Colorado State University with Pierre Julien (Professor of hydraulics and sedimentology) to evaluate the validity of Steno's assumption.[21] - [25] We will discuss the technical problems with each of these three assumptions[26] separately below.

(1) Principle of superposition [(i) At the time when one of the high stratum formed, the stratum underneath it had already acquired a solid consistency, and (ii) At the time when any stratum formed, the superincumbent material was entirely fluid, and, due to this fact at the time when the lowest stratum formed, none of the superior strata existed (Steno, 1667, p. 30, CII. 3.d).]:

A stratum is considered as thick one if its thickness is about 50 - 100 cm. Following the first part of first assumption we would expect solid strata after a few meters in the seabed. However, the evidences recorded from the submarine drillings of deep seabed reveal that first semi-consolidated sediments found between 400 - 800 m. Isolated, hardened chert beds are found below 135 m of unconsolidated sediments.[27] These sedimentological evidences challenge Steno's successive hardening assumption which extends significantly the total time of deposition.

The second part of the first assumption is found to be not in line with experimental data obtained by Guy Berthault in Colorado State University. Steno mentioned that "Strata owe their existence to sediments in a fluid" (Steno, 1667, p. 30, CII.3c). However, Steno's stratigraphic model completely overlooked the current and its chronological effects, which is the major variable factor in oceanic fluid. We cannot find an ocean without current and it is observed that oceanic current erode, transport and deposit sediments.[28] Charles Lyell following Steno's principles developed his theory of uniformitarianism. Lyell observed that the layers deposited in fresh water in Auvergne were less than 1 mm think and he further considered that each one of them had been laid down annually. Following this assumption we would expect that 230 m thick deposit would have taken hundreds of thousands of years to form. Guy Berthault conducted sedimentation experiments with a constant supply of heterogeneous materials in water with and without current.[29] In still water a deposition is obtained giving the false impression of succeeding beds or laminae. In reality these laminae appeared due to a spontaneous periodic and a continuous grading process taking place immediately following the deposition of mixture of particles. The thickness of laminae is found to be independent of sedimentation rate and increases only when there is an extreme difference in particle sizes in the mixture. It was observed that the time required for development of these layers was much lesser than that indicated by the modern geological timescale. More interestingly, when the experiments were carried out in hydraulic channel with a horizontal current under constant discharge condition, it was observed that laminated layers developed laterally in the direction of the current. Critical sedimentation rate for each particle size can be obtained from the works of Hjulstrom and his successors.[30] It was observed in the experiments that by varying the current velocity a superposed stratification can be obtained based on the segregation of particles by size. It must be noted that the experimentally observed superposed stratification is completely independent of time of deposition of heterogeneous particles and thus disproves Steno's principle of superposition as an indication of relative time. The videos[31] in flume experiments clearly shows that in the presence of a variable current stratified superposed beds progress simultaneously in the direction of current. If we take a horizontal cross section of the deposition we can clearly visualize the stratification and each of those beds from top to bottom were deposited at the same time. Following the trend it is obvious that the deposition in the downstream of fluid flow is always younger than the deposition in the upstream. These fundamental experiments in sedimentation prove that the chronology of deposition is dependent on the direction of growth of superposed beds (direction of fluid current) and is independent of thickness of deposition.

Fundamental Experiments in Stratification

(2) Principle of continuity [Strata owe their existence to sediments in a fluid. At the time when any stratum formed, either it was circumscribed on its sides by another solid body, or else it ran around the globe of the earth (Steno, 1667, p. 30, CII.3c.]:

We cannot find single evidence where a sedimentary layer is extended globally (all around the earth).

(3) Principle of original horizontality [At the time when any stratum formed, its lower surface, as also the surfaces of its sides, corresponded with the surfaces of the subjacent body and lateral bodies, but its upper surface was (then) parallel to the horizon, as far as it was possible (Steno, 1667, p. 30. C.II. 3.4.).]:

Rate of sedimentation cannot be identical in different oceans all around the earth. Furthermore, submarine coring and seismic analysis reveals that strata in oceanic sediments are not always horizontal.[32]


The stratigraphic model is found to be based on completely fallacious assumptions. In recent time sedimentologists are realizing the key role of paleohydraulic factors in stratigraphy. Paleohydraulic analyses are not limited to the laboratory. In 2007 a team of Russian sedimentologists directed by Alexander Lalomov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Ore Deposits) has applied paleohydraulic analyses in conformity with Newtonian mechanics to geological formations in Russia. They concluded that the current velocities derived from sedimentary particle analysis would have resulted in the deposition of the entire sedimentary sequence in a very short period of time, rather than the millions of years implied by a stratigraphic analysis using the geological timescale.[33] All these observations establish that Steno's theory over estimates the age of the rocks. The radiometric dating techniques are not at all reliable. The age of the rocks and fossils derived based on such theories are no longer trustworthy. Modern geological evidence reveals the crumbling pillars of geological chronology (radiometric dating and stratigraphy) and thus rather than supporting, completely undermines the Chronology of Geologic Column.


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[10] Barbier-Baudry, D., Bouazzacm A., Desmursd, J.R., and Dormond, A. (2000). UraniumIV and uranyle salts, efficient and reusable catalysts for acylation of aromatic compounds. Journal of Molecular Catalysis A: Chemical, Vol. 164 (1-2), pp. 195-204.

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[12] Lynde, A.J., and Spangler, G.W. (1974). Radiometric dating: is the `decay constant' constant? Pensee, p. 31.

[13] Huh, C.A. (1999). Dependence of the decay rate of 7Be on chemical forms. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 171, pp. 325-328.

[14] Hahn, H.P., Born, H.J., and Kim, J.I. (1976). Survey on the rate perturbation of nuclear decay. Radiochemica Acta, Vol. 23, pp. 23-27.

[15] Reifenschweiler, O. (1994). Reduced radioactivity of tritium in small titanium particles. Physics Letters, Vol. A184, 1994, pp. 149-153.

[16] Allen, R.M. (1952). The evaluation of radioactive evidence on the age of the earth. Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, p. 18. Allen noted that, "The extent of the haloes around the inclusions varies over a wide range, even with the same nuclear material in the same matrix."

[17] Spector, R. (1972). Pleochroic halos and the constancy of nature: a reexamination. Physical Review A, Vol. 5, p. 1323.

[18] Kerr, R.A. (1999). Tweaking the clock of radioactive decay. Science, Vol. 282, p. 882.

[19] Gohau, G. (1990). A History of Geology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

[20] Steno, N. (1669). Prodromus. Ex typographia sub signo Stella, Florence, Italy.

[21] Julien, P.Y., and Berthault, G. (1993). Fundamental Experiments on Stratification. Video, Sarong Ltd., Monaco.

[22] Julien, P.Y., Lan, Y., and Berthault, G. (1993). Experiments on stratification of heterogeneous sand mixtures. Bulletin Géologique de France, Vol. 164(5), pp. 649-660.

[23] Berthault, G. 2002. Analysis of the main principles of stratigraphy on the basis of experimental data. Lithology and Mineral Resources, Vol. 37(5), pp. 442-446.

[24] Berthault, G. (1986). Sédimentologie: Expériences sur la lamination des sédiments par granoclassement périodique postérieur au dépôt. Contribution à l'explication de la lamination dans nombre de sédiments et de roches sédimentaires. Comptes Rendus de l'Académie de Sciences, Vol. 303(17), pp. 1569-1574.

[25] Berthault, G. (1988). Sédimentation d'un mélange hétérogranulaire. Expériences de lamination en eau calme et en eau courante Comptes Rendus de l'Académie de Sciences, Vol. 306, pp.717-724.

[26] Steno, N. 1667. Canis Calchariae. Ex typographia sub signo Stella, Florence, Italy.

[27] Logvinenko, N.V. (1980). Morskaya geologiya (Marine Geology). Nedra, Leningrad, Russia.

[28] Strakhov, N.M. (1957). Theoretical lithology and its problems. Izv. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser. Geol., (11), pp.15-31.

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[30] Hjulstrom, F. 1935. Studies of the morphological activity of rivers as illustrated by river Fyris. Bulletin of the Geological Institute Uppsala, Vol. 25, pp. 89-122.

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[32] Refer to:

[33] Lalomov, A.V. (2007). Reconstruction of paleohydrodynamic conditions during the formation of Upper Jurassic conglomerates of the Crimean Peninsula. Lithology and Mineral Resources. Vol. 42(3), pp. 298-311.

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