Yellowstone National Park — Another bad answer from Answers in Genesis


This brief article on Yellowstone National Park from Answers in Genesis is exceptionally bad.

Answers in Genesis — “The volcano that left the enormous crater at Yellowstone was far greater than anything we observe today. While modern craters measure barely 20 square miles (52 km2), the crater at Yellowstone covers about 1,500 square miles (3885 km2). You can still see the massive volcanic lava and ash beds at Specimen Ridge and other places north of the park.”

Response — The 3885 km2 caldera must refer to the 640,000 year-old Yellowstone Caldera, which produced the Lava Creek Tuff. This was the third of the three major Quaternary calderas formed at Yellowstone. The volcanic and volcaniclastic deposits at Specimen Ridge, however, are related to entirely different set of volcanoes, and have nothing to do with the Yellowstone Caldera eruptions. The rocks at Specimen ridge are part of the Eocene Absaroka Volcanic Supergroup, which was created by a series of stratovolcanoes similar to those in the Cascade Range.

Answers in Genesis — “The fact that molten rock remains hot near the earth’s surface is evidence that Yellowstone’s volcanic activity was recent—fewer than 4,500 years ago, according to the Bible´s timescale. So every one of the park’s 100,000 geysers, hot springs, and mud pots is a testimony to the recent Flood.”

Response — In other articles, Answers in Genesis admits that Yellowstone sits over a hot spot, so there is a very credible explanation for why rocks beneath Yellowstone are still hot even after hundreds of thousands of years. Heat is continually supplied from Earth’s mantle, which explains why magma exists at relatively shallow depths. The presence of heat in no way points to the young-Earth creationist timescale, and there is nothing in these volcanic rocks that points to the young-Earth creationist’s global flood.

Answers in Genesis — “If you look along the western shore of Jackson Lake, you can see the Teton Fault, which marks the boundary between where the mountains rose and the nearby land fell. The evidence indicates that most of the world’s mountain ranges rose very recently because their dazzling heights and ruggedness have not had time to erode away.”

Response — Here, Answers in Genesis seems to be assuming that Earth is a rather static world, rather than dynamic planet. If the Grand Tetons had been sitting there static for tens of millions of years, then the mountain range would now be leveled down to low hills at best. But if the Grand Tetons and other mountain ranges are actively rising (and there is abundant evidence that this is still the case) then there is no reason why they would not be majestic and rugged mountain ranges at present.

Answers in Genesis — “The fact that magma is still hot enough to drive the geysers indicates that the magma moved to this chamber very recently (at the end of the Flood, not millions of years ago).”

Response — Once again, Answers in Genesis is ignoring how Earth works. Heat from Earth’s mantle is continually supplied beneath Yellowstone, keeping the rocks hot enough to be partially molten. There is no reason to suppose that the magma moved into this chamber only 4500 years ago.

Answers in Genesis — “Notice that the stumps are stripped bare, without any signs of roots or soil.”

Response — The fact that petrified tree stumps are “stripped bare” is evidence that they were moved in debris flows (lahars), rather than being petrified in the place where they grew. There is abundant sedimentological evidence that these petrified trees are in localized debris flows. There are also tree stumps that do have roots, and some may be in their original positions.

Answers in Genesis — “If the Flood stripped the earth’s forests and then the trees floated on the ocean and jostled about, rubbing together before sinking, it could more easily cause many layers of stumps.”

Response — The evidence in the rocks is that these fossil forests were buried in local debris flows: gravelly muds with the consistency of liquid concrete that solidified to form conglomerates. The rocks containing these trees are all local volcanic rocks, derived from volcanoes which were a few tens of kilometers away at the most. If the trees were floating on an ocean, how did they get mixed in with the debris flows? Additionally, if the trees were floating on an ocean, why did they all deposit in one layer on top of another in the same place, rather than some being deposited in northwestern Wyoming, and some in central Nebraska, some in northern Idaho, and so forth? A global flood would have scattered the trees, not deposited them in layers one on top of another.

Answers in Genesis — “Scientists observed something similar to this happening at Spirit Lake after Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980.”

Response — Young-Earth creationists love to point to Mt. St. Helens. Yes, the log deposits of Spirit lake at Mt. St. Helens can tell us some things about how petrified forests might be preserved in volcanic deposits, but that is about all they can tell us. The trees at Spirit Lake, however, will end up being preserved in a lake deposit, not in a debris flow deposit, and almost all of the Yellowstone petrified forests are found in coarse conglomerates, not in fine-grained lake deposits.

Answers in Genesis — [in a section on Grand Prismatic Spring] “What makes the dazzling colors at the park’s largest hot spring?”

Response — The picture in this section of the article is not Grand Prismatic Spring.

Answers in Genesis — [in a section on Old Faithful Geyser] “The fact that magma is still hot enough to drive the geysers indicates that the magma moved to this chamber very recently (at the end of the Flood, not millions of years ago)”

Response — The picture in this section of the article is not Old Faithful Geyser. I don’t think the author of this article is all that familiar with Yellowstone National Park. In addition, geologists do not say that the magma beneath Yellowstone National Park was intruded into Earth’s crust millions of years ago, as the most recent caldera eruption has been dated at 640,000 years, and the most recent large lava flow at Yellowstone (the Pitchstone Plateau flow) occurred about 75,000 years ago.

Answers in Genesis — “Look at those pretty colors in the pool, Daddy. But what´s that smoke? Is it hot?”
“Yes, honey. It´s very hot. In fact, springs like this are hot because super-hot, molten rocks, called magma, rose from deep in the earth during Noah´s Flood—just a few thousand years ago. The heat hasn´t had time to cool off.”

Response — Answers in Genesis managed to squeeze a lot of bad science in such a short article. For Daddy to give his child the Answers in Genesis explanation for the features in Yellowstone National Park could eventually lead to shipwrecking that child’s faith. If this child grows up and studies geology, he or she will discover that almost everything Answers in Genesis taught them about the Earth is wrong. If this bad science is coupled with the false dichotomy of “If young-Earth creationism isn’t true, then the Bible isn’t true and Jesus didn’t die for your sins,” they could easily throw out their Christianity along with their young-Earth guidebook to Yellowstone National Park.

My hope instead is that this child will grow up with foundations for their faith that are built on God’s Word, but not on the bad science of young-Earth creationism.

Grace and Peace

Copyright 2018, Kevin Nelstead, The GeoChristian


I have barely touched the surface on what I could write about why Yellowstone National Park and young-Earth creationism do not go together. Of course, the Bible is not about Yellowstone National Park.

The photograph of the real Grand Prismatic Spring at the top of this article is from Wikipedia (author: Brocken Inaglory, Creative Commons)

6 thoughts on “Yellowstone National Park — Another bad answer from Answers in Genesis

  1. “The fact that molten rock remains hot near the earth´s surface is evidence that Yellowstone´s volcanic activity was recent.” What garbage these people come out with. It’s a supervolcano and no eruption is known during human history as far as I know. It’s believed the most recent eruption occurred just over 600,000 years ago.


  2. geochristian

    The largest “supervolcano” eruption was about 640,000 years ago, but there were a number of smaller (though still larger) lava flows that occurred subsequent to this caldera collapse. These later flows, mostly of rhyolite, have largely filled the caldera. The West Yellowstone flow has been dated at about 110,000 years, and it overrides some glacial deposits just west of the park, which adds another complication to the YEC framework.

    It gets even worse, as the Yellowstone volcano produced at least 70 smaller flows before, in between, and after the three large caldera eruptions. There is plenty of evidence for periods of erosion and deposition between these flows, as well as glaciation between caldera eruptions. So this is what YECs must squeeze into their flood year (or some would try to squeeze all of this into a century or two after the flood):

    1. Basalt and rhyolite lava flows.
    2. First caldera eruption (Huckleberry Ridge)
    3. More basalt and rhyolite lava flows, with stream or glacial gravels in between.
    4. Second caldera eruption (Mesa Falls)
    5. More basalt and rhyolite lava flows, with stream or glacial gravels in between, including the formation of an ice cap over most of the Yellowstone Plateau.
    6. Third caldera eruption (Lava Creek)
    7. Massive caldera-filling lava flows.
    8. Formation and melting of final Yellowstone ice cap.

    This cannot be compressed down to a few weeks at the end of the flood, or even a few centuries after the flood. Once again, the geologic problem with YEC can be summarized as “too many events, too little time.”


  3. geochristian

    How could I have missed this? Not only was the picture of Grand Prismatic Spring not really Grand Prismatic Spring, but their picture of Old Faithful is not Old Faithful!


  4. I respectfully recommend that you review the collection of articles concerning the Bible, Genesis and Geology on my website at

    Death in Deep-Time and the Old Age of the Earth are clearly verified and explained when you understand the parallels between Earth’s ancient natural history and its ancient spiritual history. Thank you for your attention.


  5. geochristian

    Gaines — I have come across your website before, and appreciate what you are doing. I am not convinced by the ruin-reconstruction interpretation myself, but I do consider it to be withing the realm of possible interpretations of Genesis.


  6. Thanks for the response. I believe that DEATH in Deep-Time is the key to resolving the issue. If death has been on the Earth since antiquity, and death comes through sin (a spiritual truth), then Lucifer’s rebellion MUST have been in the distant past and the geologic record testifies to the presence of death long, long before Adam was created and sinned in the regenerated world following the Ruin-Reconstruction. We’re dealing with an evil that has been present for billions of years before us; a evil that will not be completely destroyed until the new heaven and Earth of Revelation 21.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s