Having set the scene in the previous posting it is now time to introduce the geologic cast.
There are many familiar names in the geologic cast.
Unfortunately, many of these players have been assigned geologic “stage names” that obscure their true identity [and character] from the audience.
This is particularly true when it comes to “sedimentary rocks”.
The general message promoted by the mainstream is that “sedimentary rocks” are formed from material that has come from the weathering of rocks.
1. Material that settles to the bottom of a liquid; lees.
2. Solid fragments of inorganic or organic material that come from the weathering of rock and are carried and deposited by wind, water, or ice.
This message is reinforced by the opening sentence of the Wikipedia entry for “sedimentology”.
Sedimentology encompasses the study of modern sediments such as sand, mud (silt), and clay, and the processes that result in their deposition.
The truth is more complex and far more interesting.
However, untangling the geologic classifications and conventions is not straightforward because geology is the “demilitarised zone” between two opposing forces: religion and science.
The “peace” was brokered between religion and science when geology endorsed the principle of uniformitarianism and transformed geology into just another faith system.
The scientific basis of this is the principle of uniformitarianism, which states that the sediments within ancient sedimentary rocks were deposited in the same way as sediments which are being deposited at the Earth’s surface today.
Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It has included the gradualistic concept that “the present is the key to the past” and is functioning at the same rates.
Uniformitarianism has been a key principle of geology and virtually all fields of science, but naturalism’s modern geologists, while accepting that geology has occurred across deep time, no longer hold to a strict gradualism.
Uniformitarianism was formulated by British naturalists in the late 18th century, starting with the work of the geologist James Hutton, which was refined by John Playfair and popularised by Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology in 1830.
The term uniformitarianism was coined by William Whewell, who also coined the term catastrophism for the idea that Earth was shaped by a series of sudden, short-lived, violent events.
Thus, the two faith systems divided the spoils of “war”.
Religion now controls the “fast creation” of the Earth in six days.
Geology now controls the “slow erosion” of the Earth over billions of years.
However, picking through the entrails of the geologic faith system does reveal some good observational information that can guide us towards a better understanding of cretaceous chalk.
Perhaps a good starting position is to recognise the import role played by oxygen.
Oxygen forms 10% of the atmosphere, 47% of the crust and nearly 85% of the oceans.
The geochemist F. W. Clarke calculated that a little more than 47% of the Earth’s crust consists of oxygen. The more common rock constituents of the Earth’s crust are nearly all oxides; chlorine, sulfur and fluorine are the only important exceptions to this and their total amount in any rock is usually much less than 1%. The principal oxides are silica, alumina, iron oxides, lime, magnesia, potash and soda. The silica functions principally as an acid, forming silicates, and all the commonest minerals of igneous rocks are of this nature.
Clearly, oxygen is concentrated in the Earth’s crust and oceans well beyond the average level of 30% attributed to the entire planet.
It is composed mostly of iron (32.1%), oxygen (30.1%), silicon (15.1%), magnesium (13.9%), sulfur (2.9%), nickel (1.8%), calcium (1.5%), and aluminium (1.4%); with the remaining 1.2% consisting of trace amounts of other elements.
Additionally, other elements have anomalously high surface concentrations.
Hydrogen forms 10% of the oceans but is just part of the “remaining 1.2%” of trace elements.
Aluminium, Carbon, Calcium, Silicon and Sodium seem to be concentrated as oxides in the crust.
Underlying these observations is a simple question that geology is loathed to address or answer:
How did the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and minerals form?
The usual mainstream misdirection is to talk about extraterrestrial water and meteoric oxygen.
One look at the Moon is enough to inform the casual observer that this is nonsense.
One look at the oxide levels in the Earth’s crust informs the average observer this is nonsense.
One look at the element distribution within the Earth informs the observer this is nonsense.
The simple answer is planetary outgassing.
The process of planetary outgassing and mineral formation is still ongoing.
A black smoker or sea vent is a type of hydrothermal vent found on the seabed, typically in the abyssal and hadal zones. They appear as black, chimney-like structures that emit a cloud of black material. The black smokers typically emit particles with high levels of sulfur-bearing minerals, or sulfides. Black smokers are formed in fields hundreds of meters wide when superheated water from below Earth’s crust comes through the ocean floor. This water is rich in dissolved minerals from the crust, most notably sulfides. When it comes in contact with cold ocean water, many minerals precipitate, forming a black, chimney-like structure around each vent. The deposited metal sulfides can become massive sulfide ore deposits in time.
White smoker vents emit lighter-hued minerals, such as those containing barium, calcium, and silicon. These vents also tend to have lower temperature plumes. These alkaline hydrothermal vents also continuously generate acetyl thioesters, providing both the starting point for more complex organic molecules and the energy needed to produce them. Microscopic structures in such alkaline vents “show interconnected compartments that provide an ideal hatchery for the origin of life”.
The hot water that feeds Mammoth comes from Norris Geyser Basin after traveling underground via a fault line that runs through limestone and roughly parallel to the Norris-to-Mammoth road. The limestone from rock formations along the fault is the source of the calcium carbonate. Shallow circulation along this corridor allows Norris’ superheated water to slightly cool before surfacing at Mammoth, generally at about 170 °F (80 °C). Algae living in the warm pools have tinted the travertine shades of brown, orange, red, and green.
The silicon rich emissions [currently associated with White Smokers and Geysers] lead back in time [via the fossil record] to the early Jurassic Period around 180 million years ago mainstream chronology] when the oceanic seafloors started stretching.
The hot hydrothermal waters emitted by the Jurassic Period “white smokers” were rich in silicone [which oxidised upon exposure to oxygen in the atmosphere] and dissolved Silicon Dioxide – SiO2.
Silicon dioxide, also known as silica (from the Latin silex), is a chemical compound that is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2.
Silicon dioxide is formed when silicon is exposed to oxygen (or air).
The solubility of silicon dioxide in water strongly depends on its crystalline form and is 3–4 times higher for silica than quartz; as a function of temperature, it peaks at about 340 °C.
This property is used to grow single crystals of quartz in a hydrothermal process where natural quartz is dissolved in superheated water in a pressure vessel that is cooler at the top. Crystals of 0.5–1 kg can be grown over a period of 1–2 months.
However, a fascinating aspect of dissolved silicon dioxide is that as the solution cools the silicon dioxide forms crystals which precipitate out the water to form a family of natural minerals.
Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2.
There are many different varieties of quartz, several of which are semi-precious gemstones:
Agate, Amethyst, Aventurine, Citrine, Jasper, Onyx, Tiger’s Eye…
Chert is a fine-grained silica-rich microcrystalline, cryptocrystalline or microfibrous sedimentary rock that may contain small fossils…
Chert occurs as oval to irregular nodules in greensand, limestone, chalk, and dolostone formations as a replacement mineral, where it is formed as a result of some type of diagenesis. Where it occurs in chalk or marl, it is usually called flint. It also occurs in thin beds, when it is a primary deposit (such as with many jaspers and radiolarites).
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones…
The exact mode of formation of flint is not yet clear but it is thought that it occurs as a result of chemical changes in compressed sedimentary rock formations, during the process of diagenesis. One hypothesis is that a gelatinous material fills cavities in the sediment, such as holes bored by crustaceans or molluscs and that this becomes silicified. This theory certainly explains the complex shapes of flint nodules that are found. The source of dissolved silica in the porous media could arise from the spicules of silicious sponges.
Paramoudras, Paramoudra flints, Pot stones or Potstones are flint nodules found mainly in parts of north-west Europe: Norfolk (United Kingdom), Ireland, Denmark, Basque Country and Germany. In Norfolk they are known as Pot Stones and can be found on the beach below Beeston Bump just outside of Beeston Regis. In Ireland they are known as Paramoudras. Pot Stones are flint nodules with a hollow center and have the appearance of a doughnut (torus). They can be found in columns resembling a backbone.
Silicate minerals make up the largest and most important class of rock-forming minerals, constituting approximately 90 percent of the crust of the Earth. They are classified based on the structure of their silicate group which contain different ratios of silicon and oxygen.
The mainstream suggest paramoudra “are trace fossils of the burrows” of an unknown organism.
An alternate probability is that they are silica sinters that formed around hot springs and geysers.
However, the mainstream is positive when it states that silica is found in the cell walls of diatoms.
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are among the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons (e.g. Fragilaria), fans (e.g. Meridion), zigzags (e.g. Tabellaria), or stars (e.g. Asterionella). Diatoms are producers within the food chain.
A unique feature of diatom cells is that they are encased within a cell wall made of silica (hydrated silicon dioxide) called a frustule. These frustules show a wide diversity in form, but are usually almost bilaterally symmetrical, hence the group name. The symmetry is not perfect since one of the valves is slightly larger than the other allowing one valve to fit inside the edge of the other.
Fossil evidence suggests that they originated during, or before, the early Jurassic Period.
Unfortunately, the mainstream has a real problem with the Earth’s vast swathes of quartz sand.
An erg (also sand sea or dune sea, or sand sheet if it lacks dunes) is a broad, flat area of desert covered with wind-swept sand with little or no vegetative cover…
Approximately 85% of all the Earth’s mobile sand is found in ergs that are greater than 32,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi).
Issaouane Erg (Sahara Desert), Algeria – International Space Station.
The mainstream states [with a straight face] that these vast tracts of uniform quartz sand are formed by “wind erosion” of other “copious sources of dry, loose sand” that are downwind.
Sand seas and dune fields generally occur in regions downwind of copious sources of dry, loose sand, such as dry riverbeds and deltas, floodplains, glacial outwash plains, dry lakes, and beaches. Almost all major ergs are located downwind from river beds in areas that are too dry to support extensive vegetative cover and are thus subject to long-continued wind erosion.
This amazing [and amusing] display of circular logic by the mainstream is a very sad indictment of geology. Clearly, the mainstream geologists can’t locate any precursor mountains of quartz to support their narrative of “long-continued” erosion and deposition. Clearly, the geologists are loathed to admit than quartz crystals precipitate when [silicon rich] hydrothermal water cools and evaporates.
Whilst the mainstream “buries its head in the sand” others, such as Gary Gilligan, are asking:
Where did the Sahara sand come from?
It did not exist 6,000 years ago.
Experts are proposing that vast oceans of sand formed in less than 3,300 years.
This is impossible because Saharan sand is some of the oldest on the planet.
Putting this into context means that an area the size of the US has been covered in a vast sea of sand in what has to be the blink of an eye in geological terms.
This makes no sense because the time frame for the formation of the sand does not allow it according to consensus theories.
If the adjoining deserts swathing out across the Middle East and Asia are also considered, this equates to an area twice the size of the US. Where did all this sand come from?
Wikipedia explains away the Sahara in terms of “shifts in the Earth’s axis” and “climate change”.
The Sahara was then a much wetter place than it is today.
Over 30,000 petroglyphs of river animals such as crocodiles survive, with half found in the Tassili n’Ajjer in southeast Algeria. Fossils of dinosaurs, including Afrovenator, Jobaria and Ouranosaurus, have also been found here.
The modern Sahara, though, is not lush in vegetation, except in the Nile Valley, at a few oases, and in the northern highlands, where Mediterranean plants such as the olive tree are found to grow.
The region has been this way since about 1600 BC, after shifts in the Earth’s axis increased temperatures and decreased precipitation. Then, due to a climate change, the savannah changed into the sandy desert as we know it now.
This is “strong stuff” coming from Wikipedia but it still doesn’t answer Gary Gilligan’s question.
The solution to the Sahara sand mystery can be found in the “sedimentary” basins of North Africa.
The Taoudeni Basin, for example, is the largest “sedimentary” basin in Northwest Africa where the “sediments” are about 6,000 metres deep.
Within the Taoudeni Basin in west–central Mauritania [near Ouadane] is an extinct source of “low-temperature hydrothermal waters” that is 40 kilometres wide.
The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara and Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature in the Sahara desert of west–central Mauritania near Ouadane.
This structure is a deeply eroded, slightly elliptical, 40 km in diameter, dome.
A more recent multianalytical study on the Richat megabreccias concluded that carbonates within the silica-rich megabreccias were created by low-temperature hydrothermal waters, and that the structure requires special protection and further investigation of its origin.
The Eye of the Sahara evidently outgassed water, silica and carbonates.
The Eye of the Sahara evidently helped sustain a Sahara “lush in vegetation” only 6,000 years ago.
The Eye of the Sahara evidently precipitated the quartz sand found in the Sahara desert.
The Eye of the Sahara predicts the fate of the Earth when the outgassing stops.
The next posting in this series will trace the origins of chalk back to the outgassing of carbonates…