'ROCK LAYERS DON’T TAKE MILLIONS OF YEARS!' ... our latest strata experiment report with thanks to all whose donations have made this research possible...John Mackay

Rock Strata evidence

After an 18 month break in this strata formation experiment due to chief machine builder illness, we have been able to resume our experiments to make a machine (now at Mark 5 version) to duplicate French Sedimentologist Guy Berthault’s strata experiment, but on a  scale which will  enable us to demonstrate to students in just one short visit to Jurassic Ark that strata actually form a) rapidly b) horizontally and c) not from bottom to top. The reboot on Thursday 26th April with new modifications was very successful, and the experiment took 2 hrs - well within one JA visit time ... and also suggested new modifications to improve performance. (Mark 6 now on drawing board)

Guy’s expt was originally set up  to demonstrate horizontal deltaic bed formation based on the original (1800’s) observations in Venice by Johannes Walther, 1893-1894, Einleitung in die Geologie als historische Wissens- chaft, Jena, Verlag von Gustav Fisher, Sud. 1 055 pages. For why you never heard about this see also Johannes Walther's law of the correlation of facies by Gerard V Middleton - Geological Society of America Bulletin, 1973 - pubs.geoscienceworld.org

Our chief new observation was that 1) after starting as sideways growing steeply inclined foreset beds that paralleled the 45 degree starter slope we had deliberately built into the machine, then b) as the sediment load approached the  top of the 45 degree slope, the strata began to grow horizontally across the tank, and  not from bottom to top. Our sediment deliberately included three easily detectable ‘markers’-light sand, coarse sand and very dense black mineral sand. As Berthault also noted, the heavier sediment always ended up as a top layer in any flood pulse flow because it was deposited last across the horizon so it always as top layer in any pulse  sequence, and was never at the bottom...the opposite of all that you are taught in geo-class regarding density effects.

OF GREATER SIGNIFICANCE is the implication that fossils formed in top layer at the starting end will actually be older than fossils in the bottom layer at the other end. An upset to geological history for sure ... especially if we consider flood waters as behaving as if in a delta, where sediment flow from one direction hits a water body obstruction and loses speed.

So far this experiment has cost us about 10K and we will be building Mark 6 machine from scratch next.

Thanks to helpers Ben and Estienne .pictured ..further references below. And yes donations are welcome click DONATIONS.


ORIGINAL PAPERS Berthault, G. 1986, Sedimentology – experiments on lamination of sediments, C. R. Academie Science, Paris, 303 II, 17, 1569-1574

Berthault, G. 1988, Sedimentation of heterogranular mixture – experimental lamination in still and running water,
C. R. Academie Science, Paris, 306, II 717-724


Dynamics of granular material by H. M. Jaeger & S. R. Nagel American Scientist, December 1997, 85, 540-545.

Stratification in poured granular heaps by J. Baxter et. A.l Nature, 8 Jan 1998, 391, 136.

Experiments in Stratification, 1999, nouvelle vidéocassette (en anglais) dis- ponible de APCS
(c/o P. Wilders : 42, Bd d'Italie, 98000 Monaco).


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