Important Creationist Studies at Grand Canyon

From Issue: Volume 35 #5 – May

Creation geologists have been studying the Flood’s effects at Grand Canyon for decades. Here are five of the notable fieldwork studies that have been completed over the years:

The Pre-Flood/Flood Boundary:

In 1994, geologists Steve Austin and Kurt Wise published and presented at the International Conference on Creationism (ICC) their fieldwork documenting the powerful geologic evidence that supports the “Great Unconformity” being the marker for the beginning of the Flood at Grand Canyon. The Great Unconformity is an erosional surface deep in the rock layers of the Earth that travels across the entire planet. They highlighted five geologic characteristics that would be predicted to appear at the pre-Flood/Flood boundary and showed that all five appear at the Great Unconformity in the Grand Canyon: a mechanical erosion discontinuity* [evidence that massive, widespread erosion (wearing down rock) happened at that point], an age discontinuity (evidence that time passed/strata were deposited below the unconformity that were destroyed by the event), a tectonic discontinuity (evidence of tectonic disturbance—the movement of Earth’s crust—at the unconformity due to the Flood’s initiation), a sedimentary discontinuity (evidence that a sedimentary megasequence* begins at the unconformity), and a paleontological discontinuity [evidence of an abrupt change in fossil types, from the most easily fossilized life forms below the unconformity (e.g., bacteria, algae, and protists) to abundant plant, animal, and fungal fossils above].1


  • Discontinuity: A plane or surface in the rock strata that marks an abrupt change between lower and upper rock strata
  • Megasequence: A group of widespread rock strata that are packaged together with an erosional surface above and below the package and that are organized by grain size and rock type

Redwall Limestone Nautiloids: 

The limestone rock layers of Grand Canyon are thought by evolutionary geologists to have been formed over millions of years by a calm, quiet, undisturbed ocean. Found within the limestone beds are billions of nautiloid fossils—squid-like creatures roughly three feet long (although some had a one-foot diameter and a length of seven feet). In 2003, Steve Austin presented and published his field study of nautiloid fossil beds at the ICC.2 He demonstrated convincingly that the orientation and location of the nautiloids in the Redwall Limestone layers of Grand Canyon strongly support the conclusion that the nautiloids were killed together, transported, and buried at the Grand Canyon by a massive, approximately seven-foot-deep mudflow, hundreds of square miles in diameter, traveling at very fast speeds. 

Coconino Sandstone Cross-beds: 

The cross-beds of the sandstone layers at Grand Canyon have been argued by evolutionary geologists to be ancient sand dunes, deposited by wind (“eolian”) and lithified (turned to stone) over millions of years. Creationists have long argued that the cross-beds are from underwater processes (in the Flood), rather than being deposited by wind. In 2023, geologist John Whitmore presented and published
at ICC his extensive field research (over 10,000 measurements) on the angles of the cross-bedded sandstones (“dip inclinations”) in the Coconino Sandstone and other layers (many in the Grand Canyon) and from modern sand dunes. Whitmore showed convincing evidence that the cross-bed angles of the Coconino Sandstone do not fit with the standard, eolian deposition theory, suggesting another deposition process, like that of water.3

Tapeats Sandstone and Folded Strata: 

Several spectacular instances of sediment layer folding are found in the hundreds-of-feet thick and hundreds-of-miles in diameter Tapeats Sandstone at Grand Canyon. For example, in Carbon Canyon and Monument Fault, multiple stacked, thick layers of sediment are bent dramatically from their horizontal position. These folds present a major problem for the old Earth, uniformitarian geology perspective. Multiple layers of sediment folding without breaking would suggest that the layers were not yet totally lithified when they were bent (which means they were deposited rapidly in a catastrophic water event—the Flood) and that the tectonic activity that bent the layers was rapid and catastrophic, rather than slow and gradual processes. Evolutionary geologists have long speculated (without actually proving their claims) that the layers were bent slowly over time, but if that were the case, the sedimentary rock (rock formed from sediment being deposited and turned to stone) at the folds would have changed in their structure to metamorphic rocks (rocks formed from altering previously existing rocks). In 2021, geologist Andrew Snelling published in Answers Research Journal his field research on the rocks of the Tapeats folds, showing that the rocks in the folds of Grand Canyon have no evidence of change to metamorphic rock but, instead, are clearly sedimentary in nature.4


At the Grand Canyon, one can see clearly dozens of beautiful, distinct, colorful layers of rock. If you were to dig a hole in your backyard, however, you would not see distinct layers like that. The reason is that “bioturbation” [BI-oh-ter-BAY-shun] occurs. The top few feet of soil are constantly being reworked by tree roots and burrowing organisms that eat and make soil.
Bioturbation destroys layering. In recent years, geologists such as Andrew Snelling have published articles highlighting the lack of bioturbation in the rock layers of Grand Canyon, showing that the layers had to have been deposited rapidly on top of one another (catastrophically), before burrowing could occur.5

Many other studies could be cited, but these highlight (1) the fact that (contrary to what some evolutionists claim) biblical creationists engage in real science, (2) that old Earth evolutionary geology does not fit the evidence, and (3) that evidence for the biblical Flood continues to build as scientists study that great “work of the Lord” (Psalm 111:2). Be sure to pray for the scientists who are devoting time, energy, and money to these important studies!


1 Steven A. Austin and Kurt P. Wise (1994), “The pre-Flood/Flood Boundary: As Defined in Grand Canyon, Arizona and Eastern Mojave Desert, California,” Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, ed. R.E. Walsh, 3[5]:37-47.

2 Steven A. Austin (2003), “Nautiloid Mass Kill and Burial Event, Redwall Limestone (Lower Mississippian), Grand Canyon Region, Arizona and Nevada,” The Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism, 5[10]:55-100; See also Steven A. Austin, Andrew A. Snelling, and Kurt P. Wise (1999), “Canyon-Length Mass Kill of Orthocone Nautiloids, Redwall Limestone (Mississippian), Grand Canyon, Arizona,” Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, CO, 31[7]:A-421.

3 John H. Whitmore (2023), “Can Sandstone Cross-bed Dip Inclinations Determine Depositional Environment?” Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism, 9[27]:588-610.

4 Andrew Snelling (2021), “The Petrology of the Tapeats Sandstone, Tonto Group, Grand Canyon, Arizona,” Answers Research Journal, 14:159-254.

5 Ibid. See also Andrew Snelling (2021), “The Petrology of the Bright Angel Formation, Tonto Group, Grand Canyon, Arizona,” Answers Research Journal, 14:303-415; Andrew Snelling (2022), “The Petrology of the Muav Formation, Tonto Group, Grand Canyon, Arizona,” Answers Research Journal, 15:139-262.


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