John Doughty Mount St. Helens: Evidence for Catastrophism June 14, 2015 google drive link On Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mt St. Helens volcano erupted in Washington State. It will be remembered as one of the most significant geological events of the 20th Century. The eruption and subsequent volcanic activity was anticipated, well documented, photographed, and studied; a catastrophe in a laboratory. The geologic effects challenge the dogma of Uniformitarianism and Evolutionism. The “present is not the key to the past,” rather “the past is the key to the present.   Two views of Historical Geology: Catastrophism: The traditional view of Earth history based on the Biblical view of creation and the flood. Propounded by creation scientists George Cuvier, Robert Jameson, William Buckland, and Louis Agassiz.   Uniformitarianism: Conceived by British naturalists in the 18th Century, James Hutton, John Playfair. Charles Lyell popularized in his Principles of Geology (1830). Influence upon Charles Darwin.   The Geology of Mt St. Helens:  

  1. Stratification: Pumice plains. The southwest corner of Spirit Lake is the site of the thickest deposits of landslide material and volcanic ash. Up to 600 feet (182 meters) of deposits have formed here since 1980.

  The North Fork of the Toutle River contains strata deposited in three specific days in a two year period. The Toutle River Canyon reveals three main strata: the lower third shows the uppermost deposits from the afternoon of May 18, 1980. The middle third layer shows the 25 feet thick (7.6 meter) stratified pyroclastic flow deposit formed in the evening hours of June 12, 1980. The dark colored and massive mudflow deposit of March 19, 1982 caps the cliff.   The “Little Grand Canyon” of the Toutle River. This westward view is from the top of Langes Crest, where five canyons come together. The “Little Grand Canyon” was established by the mudflow on March 19, 1982, which filled and breached the big steam explosion pit. This “canyon-formed-in-one-day” causes us to question conventional theories for slow erosion of canyons.   “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8 KJV   “The hurricane, the flood, or the tsunami may do more in an hour or a day than the ordinary processes of nature have achieved in a thousand years.” Derek V. Ager, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, (New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1973), p. 49. Derek Ager was Professor and Head of the Department of Geology and Oceanography at the University College of Swansea, England.  

  1. Erosion:


  1. Steam explosion at the south shore of Spirit Lake. Large masses of glacier ice from the summit of Mt St. Helens were buried under 300 degree centigrade pumice of May 18. Within days the buried ice had melted and formed steam, reaming holes in surface and creating steam explosion pits, forming on pumice plain southwest of Spirit Lake. The steam explosion pits of Mt St. Helens resemble the Badlands of North Dakota.


  1. Rapid Canyon Erosion.

  -“Little Grand Canyon” of the Toutle River. Three major strata deposited in three days, canyon formed in one day, by mudflow of March 19, 1982 which breached the debris dam and eroded soft deposition material.   -Engineers Canyon looking west, is almost one hundred feet (30 meters) high. This canyon formed the stream, the stream did not form the canyon.   -Lower Loowit Canyon is one hundred feet (30 meters) high. This would require a very long period of time to form under Uniformitarian processes; however the canyon was formed rapidly under catastrophic conditions.   III. Log Deposits: Upright floating logs are found in Spirit Lake. They are floating in vertical fashion because of density of tree base. All bark has been removed. Specimen Ridge at Yellowstone Fossil Forest interprets many fossilized trees standing in 27 distinct layers of fossil forests. Yet trees have no root base. The alternative theory is that the trees of Specimen Ridge may have floated and been deposited together there, all having been laid down by the same event.  

  1. Peat Deposit: Three feet layer of peat at the bottom of Spirit Lake. If another catastrophic event buried the peat on the bottom of the lake, coal would form.


  1. Spiritual Implications: As the lava dome of Mt St. Helens expanded, geologists and law enforcement gave advance warning of the impending eruption and destruction. Fifty seven people perished in this natural disaster, some campers, geologists, and photographers; all died with warning. Mt St. Helens is a microcosm of Noah’s Flood (a catastrophe of catastrophes) which destroyed the “world that then was…” Jesus compared the “days of Noah” to the coming of the son of man. (Mt. 24:37)

  Bible Verses:   Matthew 24:37-39, 37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.   2 Peter 3:3-7, “3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”   Psalm 46:8, Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.   Psalm 104:6-9, 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains. 7 At Your rebuke they fled, At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. 8 The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which You established for them. 9 You set a boundary that they may not pass over, So that they will not return to cover the earth. NASB   Psalm 104:32 He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke. NASB   Glossary:   Catastrophism: the theory that the Earth has been affected in the past by sudden, short-lived, violent events, possibly worldwide in scope. (Wikipedia)   Uniformitarianism: 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. (Wikipedia)   Gully: a landform created by running water, eroding sharply into soil, typically on a hillside. Gullies resemble large ditches or small valleys, but are metres to tens of metres in depth and width. When the gully formation is in process, the water flow rate can be substantial, which causes the significant deep cutting action into soil.   Lahar: a type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. Lahars are extremely destructive: they

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can flow tens of metres per second (60 mph), be 140 metres (460 feet) deep, and destroy any structures in their path. Notable lahars include those at Mount Pinatubo and Nevado del Ruiz, the latter of which killed thousands of people.   Lamination: a small scale sequence of fine layers (so called laminae) that occurs in sedimentary rocks. Laminations are normally smaller and less pronounced than bedding layering. Lamination is often regarded as planar structures one centimetre or less in thickness, whereas bedding layers are greater than one centimetre.   Pumice: called pumicite in its powdered or dust form, is a volcanic rock that consists of highly vesicular rough textured volcanic glass, which may or may not contain crystals. It is typically light colored. Scoria is another vesicular volcanic rock that differs from pumice in having larger vesicles and thicker vesicle walls and being dark colored and denser. Pumice is created when super-heated, highly pressurized rock is violently ejected from a volcano. (Wikipedia)   Pyroclastic flow: (also known scientifically as a pyroclastic density current [1] is a fast-moving current of hot gas and rock (collectively known as tephra), which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h (450 mph).[2] The gas can reach temperatures of about 1,000 °C (1,830 °F). Pyroclastic flows normally hug the ground and travel downhill, or spread laterally under gravity. Their speed depends upon the density of the current, the volcanic output rate, and the gradient of the slope. They are a common and devastating result of certain explosive volcanic eruptions. (Wikipedia)   Rills: narrow and shallow channels which are eroded into unprotected soil by hillslope runoff. Since soil is regularly left bare during agricultural operations, rills may form on farmland during these vulnerable periods. Rills may also form when bare soil is left exposed following deforestation, or during construction activities.   Sedimentary rocks: types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth’s surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles (detritus) to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution.   Strata: In geology and related fields, a stratum (plural: strata) is a layer of sedimentary rock or soil with internally consistent characteristics that distinguish it from other layers. The “stratum” is the fundamental unit in a stratigraphic column and forms the basis of the study of stratigraphy.   Varve: an annual layer of sediment or sedimentary rock. Arising from the study of glaciers… the whole of any annual sedimentary layer. More recently introduced terms such as ‘annually laminated’ are synonymous with varve. Of the many rhythmites [seasons] found in the geological record, varves are one of the most important and illuminating to studies of past climate change. Varves are amongst the smallest-scale events recognized in stratigraphy.