Early in the development of creationist/catastrophist thought, impacts -- or close encounters with celestial bodies -- played a major role in the theory of flood geology. These early explanations were flawed by a lack of knowledge of the nature of comets (or other bodies involved) and by a reliance on the mechanically unfeasible axis shifts (or tidal effect) of objects of unreasonable size. It is certain from the presence of numerous craters between various stratagraphic layers that impacts did occur. This fact has prompted at least one critic to allege this as evidence against the Flood (as recorded in Genesis). Creationists have suggested that impacts played an important role in the judgment of sin at the time of the Flood. Dr Daniel Faulkner has proposed a in which a giant comet was directed at the Earth during the Flood and caused impacts on the Earth and moon. While agreeing in many particulars with Dr Faulkner, I suggest a somewhat different whereby the impacts on Earth and the maria-forming impacts on the moon resulted from the disruption-capture of a rubble pile body -- a stony or icy aggregate held together by self-gravity. The fragmentation of this microplanet (asteroid or comet) resulted from a near encounter with the Earth that brought that object within the Roche limit.the result was a Walker Exchange Capture- That is a three-body capture mechanism in which two smaller bodies(or one rotating rublle pile)the componates of which were initially in orbit around each other, encounter a large body and a partner exchange happens The resulting scatter of debris showered the earth/moon system with fragments of various sizes not only giving rise to most major impacts in a very short interval of time, but also giving rise to a temporary ring system which may have continued to impact the Earth for some time afterwards. Lastly, I have attempted to estimate the size of such an object based on the total volume of debris that struck the Earth during the Flood and have found the most likely size to range from 30 km to 55 km, easily within the range of known objects that could threaten the Earth.
Early creationist ideas often suggested a role for cosmic catastrophism. William Whiston set forth a theory, which proposed a planet-sized comet raised tides that deluged the Earth. Edmond Halley proposed a comet impacted the Earth , which shifted the axis and thereby caused the Flood. He suggested the Caspian Sea was a scar of that impact. Such catastrophic events appeared Ad-Hoc and unnecessary until the revolutions in geology, beginning in the 1960’s, which have shown conclusively that sizable impacts have occurred. The size, nature, and number of such impacts have become evident. It is clear that many early theories exaggerated the size of the bodies involved and called upon forces many orders of magnitude too large to be realistic. It now seems that the Earth’s rotational axis has remained largely fixed within a few degrees and that it is unlikely any body large enough to produce catastrophic tides has ever passed close to the Earth. Extravagant hypotheses aside, there remain at least a hundred and forty large impact structures on Earth that must be accounted for in any reasonable flood .
Modern Creationists and Impacts
The former young-Earth-creationist-turned-critic, Glenn Morton , believes that the presence of numbers of impacts in the stratagraphic record is a major stumbling block to flood geology. With this assessment I totally disagree. Modern creationists are recognizing that the Flood was a more complex event than a mere rainstorm. Instead, it was an event whereby God unleashed many of nature’s forces in an act of severe judgment . In particular, the works of Wayne Spencer (who has suggested a solar system-wide catastrophe at the time of the Flood) and of Dr. Daniel Faulkner (the Directed Giant Comet ) stand out. Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions and difficulties, which have not been completely addressed. Among these problems are:
If a solar system-wide catastrophe occurred, Dr. Faulkner has suggested there should more debris in the inner solar system.
Conversely, if the Earth were uniquely singled out for directed ardment, then why are there clear indications of a late heavy ardment accompanied by tectonic upheaval on Mars and Venus with dramatic flooding on Mars?
Finally, the broad stratagraphic distribution of impacts indicates ardment must have continued throughout the depositional phases of the flood, yet the formation of lunar maria suggests a much shorter impact episode lasting only two weeks at most.
The Rubble Pile Fragmentation
The recent discovery that many asteroids and comets are composed of loose rubble held together by mutual gravitation rather than material bonding gives credence to the idea that a single large body could -- supply the impacting bodies which evidently struck the Earth during the Flood year. Such an object passing within the Roche limit would be scattered into a number of fragments on independent trajectories in a manner similar to that shown in Figure One. The Roche limit is the distance from a planet at which the tidal forces exceed the mutual attractive forces of the microplanet and is dependant on density of the intruder. The rubble piles tend to have very low density that often are close to that of water.
Roche Limit = 2.423 * Radius of the Earth * Density of the Earth/ The Density of Microplanet exp 1/3
Assuming a density of 1 (water) for the intruder, the Roche limit for such an object would be 4.5 Earth radii or roughly 28000 km.
The disruption-capture of a microplanet would produce impacts at the onset but also could lead to the formation of a ring system around the Earth that would continue to supply impact-producing objects for a considerable time. Kaare Rasmussen of the National Museum in Copenhagen has shown by historical analysis and computer ing that such a ring may have existed after recent capture events and given rise to periods of high meteor activity. The perturbations caused by the moon and atmospheric drag ensure any ring around Earth would be much more unstable than around a giant planet such as Saturn. Yet even Saturn’s ring systems would last -- if not resupplied -- only thousands of years . The existence of tektite-strewn fields, such as the North American strewn field , indicates a ring-like distribution because they reach halfway around the world. Peter J. Fawcett, of the University of New Mexico, and Mark E. Boslough, of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories, have additionally ed the formation of rings from ejecta from low-angle impacts and believe such a ring would have a large climatic effect. Possibly a debris ring may have contributed to the Ice Age after the Flood. . If the rubble pile disruption-capture mechanism was responsible for an inner solar system-wide catastrophe around the time of the Flood, then it seems to answer the three questions raised by the conflicting aspects of Faulkner and Spencer’s s. First, since the objects involved were relatively few in number, little debris would be expected to remain. Second, the nearly contemporaneous catastrophes on Mars and Venus were also the result of rubble pile encounters. Third, the continual rain of impacts during the Flood was the result of breakup of an unstable residual ring. This also explains the prevalence of crater chains and apparent chains, which seem to have been overlooked by evolutionists because the chains cut across “time” boundaries.
What would be the size of this hypothetical object? There are a large number of assumptions and variables which must be made to estimate the size. The actual result would vary considerably depending on those assumptions. The size of the mircoplanet was approximated by calculating the size of known impactors from a list of major-impact craters using an available calculation program ( modified from the FORTRAN source code to a PC friendly form by a programmer friend Matt Davis) then totaling up the volume using an Excel spreadsheet. In order to carry out this calculation the intruder was assumed to be spherical have a density of 1, an impact velocity of 17 Km per second, and impact rock with a density of 1.5 at an angle of 45 degrees. A minimum figure of 30 km was the resulting answer. Considering the total area of the Earth, it could really be three times greater in volume, or roughly 43 km. Then, add to that the portion which impacted the moon (or was lost to space). The resulting object was likely to have been 55 km in diameter. This is a reasonable size similar to many asteroids at present. Because the seems to require a relatively low velocity encounter, the most likely candidate would be an asteroid . Such an asteroid would be honeycombed with internal spaces giving it a low density.
The rubble pile disruption-capture provides a framework for explaining the known impacts of the Earth and the formation of lunar maria, as well as a that may be extended to other solar system objects. Impacts cannot be ignored in any comprehensive flood theory. The physical evidence is clear. Failure to recognize and explain these in a young earth can only weaken our stance.
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Glenn MortonInternet posting 1997 (last viewed Jan. 2003).
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