The ancient town of Pompeii was viewed as a wonderful place to live. Many very important Roman officials made it their home. The weather was nice, it was close to the ocean, and the city made for an excellent place to retire. But something troubling happened in Pompeii. Around the year A.D. 62 a severe earthquake rocked the city, causing considerable damage. After that, many smaller earthquakes continued to aggravate the citizens of Pompeii. Eighteen years after the major earthquake of 62 occurred, something even worse happened. The historian Pliny the Younger tells about the devastating volcanic eruption that demolished the entire area in A.D. 79. Massive amounts of ash exploded out of the top of the volcano near Pompeii. A cloud of volcanic gases swept over the area. And a “river” of molten lava oozed down the side of the mountain, toasting to a crisp everything it touched. In two short days, the city of Pompeii had been completely destroyed, and it was not discovered again in modern times until A.D. 1599.
What happened to Pompeii reminds us of the amazingpower and majesty of volcanoes. Have you ever had questions about volcanoes? What is a volcano? Why do volcanoes occur? Why does lava pour out of many of them? These and other questions are fascinating to study. Volcanoes are astounding reminders that God’s creation is awesome.
Volcanoes are cracks in the Earth’s crust where hot gases and magma spill out. Magma is rock that is so hot it melts into a liquid. It is called magma when it is under the Earth’s crust, but when it comes out of the crust it is called lava. Think about a volcano like a cream-filled donut. If you squeeze the donut hard enough, a crack will appear where the cream will pour out. The place on the donut where the cream pours out is the “volcano” of the pastry. Volcanoes are places in Earth’s crustal plates “squeezed” together in such a way that a crack is made and magma pours out.
The molten lava that pours out of many volcanoes comes in several different types. There is smooth pahoehoe (pah-HOY-hoy) lava, pillow lava that forms on the bottom of the oceans, the rough A’a (ah ah) lava, and various other kinds. Lava is fascinating because it is liquid rock. Studying it is also helpful to show that the idea the Earth is billions of years old is false.
You may have heard of radiometric dating methods. These “clocks” are used by evolutionists to “prove” that the Earth is millions or billions of years old. You see, radiometric dating methods can only be used to date igneous rocks. Igneous rocks are rocks that cooled from lava or magma. Thus, radiometric dating methods are often used to give assumed dates for lava. These dating methods supposedly show that much of the lava on Earth cooled millions of years ago.
When we start to look more closely at the evidence, however, we realize something is very wrong with these dating methods. For instance, geologist Andrew Snelling studied lava that came from an eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in 1986. The rock should have measured only a few decades old. Yet when it was dated using radiometric methods, the date came out to be about 300,000 years old. On another occasion, lava flows in the Grand Canyon, that could only be a few hundred or a few thousand years old, were dated with radiometric methods that gave dates of about 990 million years old. Some lava from an island in Hawaii that was taken from an eruption about 200 years ago contained substances that gave radiometric dates of about two million years old.
The lessons to be learned about radiometric dating are simple. First, such dating methods can only be used on igneous rocks (most fossils are not even found in such rocks, so radiometric dates certainly cannot be used to date them). Second, since the dating methods give drastically wrong dates when they are used to date lava and igneous rocks when we already know the date, why would we expect them to give correct dates when they are used to date rocks whose age we don't know?
Volcanoes are captivating geological occurrences that show God’s creative ability and power. Many evolutionary geologists have tried to use lava to “prove” the Earth is old. The dating methods used, however, have been shown to be terribly inaccurate, even when dating rocks that are only a few hundred years old. The biblical position that the Earth is only a few thousand years old is the only one that agrees with all the evidence from true science, including the study of volcanoes.