Folded rocks question

I’d like to hear from a geologist on this one, since I know very little about geology. I don’t remember who in this forum is a geologist, so feel free to tag one for me!

I was talking to a YEC friend about the folded rocks article on AiG, the one where they say there are no cracks, but then other (better) photographs show very clear cracks. My friend asked if anyone had contacted AiG about it. I’m sure many have, but I decided to ask them myself. The response they gave me from Dr. Snelling is this:

“The fractures referred to in that photograph are not due to the folding event itself. Closer inspection of the outcrop and those fractures, plus examination of the rock matrix itself under a geological microscope, reveals those fractures could not have occurred during the folding event when the rock was still moist and its cement not yet set. Instead they are fractures that were produced well after the rock layers were folded (while still soft), when months or a few years later- as the cement in the rock subsequently dried out and shrinkage occurred. Those are drying and shrinkage cracks, not folding cracks.”

To my layman eyes, this looks like he’s assuming the folding occurred while the rock was still soft? If folding occurs under intense pressure and heat deep in the earth, does it become soft during that? Was this formation deep enough for that kind of folding? Are there any peer reviewed papers that talk about this particular formation that explain how the folding occurred?


Check out this response

And @Joel_Duff talks about this here

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To my layman eyes, …

I think you nailed it. A lot of unfounded assumptions, and probably some physical impossibility too, if we looked close enough.

My educated guess is there are many related peer reviewed articles, and Snelling himself likely cites some specific geology publications.


@Boscopup I posted your question in another forum and here is what one person said:

In answer to one of your first questions, yes, when rock is folding deep in the crust, it becomes plastic - like a really hard clay. This is accompanied by metamorphic changes - what kind of change is directly related to the parent rock type and the depth and thus pressure and heat of the change. Here’s a presentation on metamorphic rock. You can see some pretty wild folding in the pictures.

Now, can metamorphic rock crack after folding as it is exposed at the surface? Yes, it can, sometimes explosively due to the release of pressure, a foliation crack. But whether that is the specific method happening here, I’d have to research that particular formation and its geology.

Enjoyed the articles. One follow up question: If the future rocks were still soft when folded, wouldn’t the layers wind up disappearing as the pressure squished (to use a technical term:wink:) the mud together, sort of like modeling clay or playdough and thus eliminate the strata as it extruded the mud?
It seems to me that the fact that the strata exist at all rules out Snelling’s ideas.

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Thanks for the articles, Bill. I have read those, and I don’t think they answered my questions? Or I don’t understand enough geology to see them answering my questions. Either of those is a possibility. :slight_smile: They are good articles though!

@Christy, it’s the Tapeats Sandstone in Carbon Canyon (of the Grand Canyon).

I think @jpm has a good point about the strata.

I just checked the AIG site and Dr. Snelling has an article on this. Surprisingly what he didn’t address is what caused the soft layers to fold in the first place. How was force applied to bend these soft layers and not destroy them?

And he also says this

And yet there are photographs showing layers that were eroded by a river and then filled in by later deposits.

Wikipedia has a nice article on folding.

Which after reading makes you question why Dr. Snelling would say

given heat and pressure is not always required. He acts as if there is only one explanation when in reality there are many.

From Jeff Greenberg, geology professor at Wheaton:

The kind of folding the YEC continues to use as “evidence”, is the very high-level crustal sedimentary buckling and slumping. When this depositional or early post-depositional wet-sediment deformation occurs, there is fluidity and no real brittleness in the material, i.e., no cracks. The terrible trouble with this mechanism is that it only refers to those folds; while the YEC ignore all other types of folding which are much more common. [edited]


Also, @Boscopup have you seen this old thread? Misrepresentation of Grand Canyon rock formations

Thanks for posting this response from Andrew Snelling, @Boscopup. I was wondering what he would have to say when confronted with high-resolution photographs of the fractures that he claimed not to exist. It seems he’s trying to argue for a different interpretation of them – the old “same evidence, different interpretations” argument again. But the fact remains that he did claim – or at the very least, very, very strongly imply – that they didn’t even exist. It’s one thing to try and argue for an alternative interpretation of fractures such as these; it’s a completely different matter to suggest that they don’t even exist when quite clearly they do. On top of that, when the photograph on their website in support of such a claim has people standing right in front of the most prominent fractures at the hinge of the fold, he most definitely has some more explaining to do.

There are two other problems with the “wet deformation” hypothesis. The first one is the size of the rock formation. I could understand wet clay deforming into folds a few centimetres high, but what we’re looking at here is a rock formation 30-50 metres tall weighing millions of tons. The idea that layers on that scale could deform wet without slumping and blurring into one another is simply in defiance of the law of gravity.

The second one is that even if the rocks were deformed while wet as he claims, what is there to say that that happened six thousand years ago rather than 540 million years ago as conventional dating techniques tell us? Nothing whatsoever. YECs harp on about “same evidence, different interpretations,” but the fact of the matter is that any evidence that can be interpreted in either a young-earth or an old-earth timescale is ambiguous, does not constitute evidence for either position, and can be categorised along with the price of tea in China, the colour of shirt that I am wearing as I type this, and the Loch Ness Monster. For something to count as evidence for a young earth, it needs to clearly falsify an old earth.

Snelling’s response to you is most likely what he’s trying to come up with for his much-publicised study of that particular rock feature – the one that involved a legal battle with the Grand Canyon authorities a couple of years back. What I’d like to know about his study, whatever he comes up with, is, how vulnerable is it to cherry-picking? I would imagine that in a rock formation such as this one, some samples would show little or no evidence of stress fracturing, whereas others would show lots of it. A professional geologist such as Dr Snelling would no doubt be able to select only samples that gave him the results he wanted here, while carefully avoiding the ones that didn’t. For a study such as this to be convincing, it would have to be a blind study in terms of collection as well as processing.


A few more comments from the other place:

Snelling completely omits the key term–cooling. Rocks under pressure heat up, causing expansion, followed by cooling and either expansion or contraction, depending on gas content, mineralization processes, crystallization, etc. Heating can be relatively rapid, due to contact with heat sources (e.g. lava) or very slow, due to increased deposition pressure overhead, and similarly cooling can be rapid from contact with water or air, or very slow as erosion removes overburden and layers move away from the mantle (think of the rise of the Himalayas). His answer is mumbo jumbo.


"To my layman eyes, this looks like he’s assuming the folding occurred while the rock was still soft? " Yes. He’s saying the cracks have to be later because it was soft before because he says it was soft before. But soft-sediment bending will mix layers. Soft-sediment deformation is common and can be documented in the Recent and in the rock record. Layers can’t be soft when they have karst features developing on them and chunks of them get eroded and then buried in the next layer, as are true of a number of the layers in the Grand Canyon. .

But the others aren’t explanations. They’re “Rescuing Devices.”

Hi Christy, do you have a link to the other place? It would be interesting to see the whole discussion there.

You would have to join the FB group, but here it is:

As I read, I find myself a layman in geology that may be moved either way by the arguments on either side. But with the word of God the ultimate authority, I side with those whose arguments best support the Bible. From those like Newton, Kepler, Pasteur, etc, I learned that the Biblical creation point of view is the primary influence that inspires modern science.

Dr. Snelling in his position is between a rock and a hard place. But Dr. Snelling is rejoicing. He goes the way of the Rock where he is jostled as a straw man in the wrestling ring and avoids the hard, hard place of compromise where he would be beaten much more severely as a real man for the compromise from his position. I’m confident that he well never do that! We all thus respect him.


I reserve the greater respect for those who attend to both the work of God’s hands as well as God’s revelation to us without pitting those two things against each other. Scientists are helping us focus with increasing clarity and accuracy on the former of those two things. Theologians have their specialty in the latter, and I thank God for the immense and productive overlap between those areas of expertise.


I side with those whose arguments best obey the Bible. That means honest reporting and honest interpretation of accurate information.

Claiming that a rock formation is not fractured, when photographs clearly show that it is, simply does not fall into that category, no matter how you interpret the fractures when you’re finally confronted with them. You don’t have to be an expert in geology to see that.


Im not on here much but I saw this. I am a geophysicist who worked in the oil industry for 47 years and do have significant experience with how rocks fold. In Bill-II’s Natural History post you can see that the limestones (or dolomites) have ground themselves to rubble every few feet. Limestone and dolomite are quite hard and brittle rocks so their fractures every few feet allow the rock to bend. The dark layers, the shales are softer and they can more easily adjust without fracturing, but even they can be deformed only so far before faults become visible. You are correct that deep burial and high pressure constrains the rock to not fold like the cars of a train does when it wrecks. Folding occurs in response to faulting, or continental collision which is a very slow motion collision, but a relentless one. Hope this helps

There is one way to prove or disprove if those fractrures are ‘shrinkage cracks’. They would have to be hexagonal when one looks at the horizontal surface of the limestone or something like that, not block faulted (rectangles). Shrinkage cracks are related to dewatering, block faulting is due to structural stresses. layer. My experience with limestone rocks are that they are always block faulted at the scale of the thickness of the rock shown in those photos like this one


Hi Jim,

I’m thankful for the help from gbob and the links given. Again I say that I’m no expert in geology.
But was Dr. Snelling dishonest? I doubt it especially if he is engaged in an effort to support the Bible. Why didn’t others within his circle quickly notice and rebuke him if that’s the case?

Why the three-fold segregation between scientists (evolutionists, creationists, and young-earth creationists) despite the fact that scientific knowledge by nature settles conflicts? Why the apparent impossibility to come to agreement? Are any of us familiar with the term, “sola scriptura?” Even Jesus Himself expresses Himself a divider (Matthew 10:34-36, etc.). Why?

I only know that beside the fact that Snelling gave other reasons for the cracks, conflict is characteristic of discussions between Biblical and secular viewpoints. This is what Snelling spoke of when he spoke of different starting points. Is there any underlying issue that makes this rock-bending discussion appear so significant?


You don’t think someone would lie to support the Bible? Really? I mean, they SHOULDN’T, but to say no one ever would? Have you never seen those Ron Wyatt hoaxes? He has lied to support the Bible many times.

Snelling’s colleagues won’t rebuke him. Creation scientists aren’t practicing real science. They are starting with a conclusion and doing what they can to convince people of that conclusion, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof. Snelling had to sign a statement of faith saying that his scientific conclusions would support a 6 day creation 6000 years ago. He can’t show evidence of something contrary to that, and neither can his colleagues who signed the same statement. Admitting that those rocks didn’t fold in a global flood = admitting that long ages exist.

I’ve seen plenty of blatant dishonesty (not just disagreement or interpreting things differently, but actual lying) from creation scientists. Not all of them lie, but many do, and that does a lot of damage to Christianity, causing many people to fall away.