Rapid erosion on Mt. St. Helens shows Grand Canyon could form suddenly (Talk.Origins)
- Rapid erosion of sediments along the North Fork of Toutle River, flowing out of Spirit Lake on Mt. St. Helens, carved a canyon like a miniature Grand Canyon, showing that the Grand Canyon could form suddenly.
- Austin, Steven A. 1986. Mt. St. Helens and catastrophism. Impact 157 (July). http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-157.htm http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=261
This is a misstatement of the claim, as no one is saying that "the Grand Canyon could form suddenly." Rapidly, yes. Suddenly, no. Undoubtedly it would seem sudden to uniformitarians like Talk.Origins but the correct view is rapidly. It may have taken days, weeks or even months. Mt. St. Helens simply demonstrates the possibility of rapid erosion; no one claims that it is a perfect duplication of the Grand Canyon.
Furthermore Mt. St. Helens simply provides a model for how rapid erosion occurs—those processes need to be scaled up considerably to apply it to the Grand Canyon—but the same basic processes can be applied to the Grand Canyon.
(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)
1. The sediments on Mt. St. Helens were unconsolidated volcanic ash, which is easily eroded. The Grand Canyon was carved into harder materials, including well-consolidated sandstone and limestone, hard metamorphosed sediments (the Vishnu schist), plus a touch of relatively recent basalt.
Yes, the Grand Canyon's rocks are well consolidated now; as is Mt. St. Helens' volcanic ash; but they may not have been when the Grand Canyon' was carved. This can be shown to be the case based on the obvious slumping in the Grand Canyon as can be seen in the following pictures from the canyon floor.
This shows that the rocks the Grand Canyon is carved through were at least partially unconsolidated when it was carved. Similar slumping patterns can be seen at Mt. St. Helens.
- The Toutle River
- USGS/Cascades Volcano
- Upper Muddy drainage
- USGS/Cascades Volcano
Both locations show this same type of slumping at the bottom, suggesting that neither location was well consolidated when the respective canyons were carved.
2. The walls of the Mt. St. Helens canyon slope 45 degrees. The walls of Grand Canyon are vertical in places.
Which Mt. St. Helens canyon is Talk.Origins referring too? It has several. All of the above images show places with vertical canyon walls, as do the images on the Answers in Genesis web-site of the Engineer's Canyon and a recently-carved cliff face.. Therefore, this Talk.Origins claim is baseless.
3. The canyon was not entirely formed suddenly. The canyon along Toutle River has a river continuously contributing to its formation. Another canyon also cited as evidence of catastrophic erosion is Engineer's Canyon, which was formed via water pumped out of Spirit Lake over several days by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Once again this is a misstatement of the claim, as no one is saying that "the Grand Canyon could form suddenly." Rapidly, yes. Suddenly, no. As said above, undoubtedly it would seem sudden to uniformitarians like Talk.Origins but the correct view is rapidly. It may have taken days, weeks or even months. Mt. St. Helens simply demonstrates the possibility of rapid erosion. No one claims that it is a perfect duplication of the Grand Canyon.
4. The streams flowing down Mt. St. Helens flow at a steeper grade than the Colorado River does, allowing greater erosion.
And the Talk.Origins point is? None of the canyons in question were carved entirely by rivers. It does show that a faster water flow at the Grand Canyon would have carved it faster. What the Talk.Origins article does not mention is the Colorado River would have to flow uphill from it's source to form the Grand Canyon
5. The Grand Canyon (and canyons further up and down the Colorado River) is more than 100,000 times larger than the canyon on Mt. St. Helens. The two are not really comparable
The laws of physics are still the same. All that is needed is to proportionally increase the water and/or speed of flow. It is not uncommon in science to study events on a smaller scale to understand larger-scale events. A star is many trillions of times larger than the pellets used for nuclear fusion experiments, but they help provide an understanding of how stars work. It is simply a matter of scaling up the smaller event to extrapolate it to the larger.