ASI-funded Project Seeks Geologic
Clues to Earth’s Story

Researchers filmed in Utah’s Shinarump conglomerate (Posted Aug. 9, 2012)

BY CONNA BOND, ASI communication director

Geological formations can be very beautiful, and may also yield valuable insights into the story of our earth. Financed by project funds from ASI, four geology researchers spent two weeks in southern Utah in mid-July 2012. Professors Arthur Chadwick, from Southwestern Adventist University, and Leonard Brand, from Loma Linda University (LLU), have been involved in geology research in Utah for about seven years. This year Rose Weeks, a geology student from Southwestern, and Cosmin Cosma, a professional photographer from LLU, joined them.

STRATA SHOWN: The Straight Cliffs, a cliff with laterally extensive rock units in southern central Utah, of which researchers photographed a 50-mile section. [PHOTO: Leonard Brand]
The group focused on two main objectives. One was a detailed study of the Shinarump conglomerate, a rock formation that covers more than 100,000 square miles in Utah and surrounding states, and sits on top of mudstones 
of the Moenkopi Formation. It is commonly believed that after the Moenkopi was deposited, 10 to 15 million years passed before the Shinarump made its appearance. The group gathered evidence to evaluate the theory that millions of years could pass with virtually no geological processes occurring between those two formations. The evidence gathered is not looking favorable for the generally accepted theory. The researchers discovered some very significant leads in the rocks that they will continue to follow up on in coming months and years.

The group also conducted a week of aerial photography of geological structures across southern Utah and northern Arizona from a chartered helicopter.

GOING UP: Leonard Brand ready to take aerial photos from a helicopter. [PHOTO: Cosmin Cosma]
“Riding across the landscape in a small helicopter with the doors off to facilitate photography is a memorable experience!” said Brand. “There are sturdy seat belts and shoulder harnesses, and the head knows it is safe. The feelings, however, don’t always get the message, especially at times when it is several thousand feet to the rocks below!”

Video taken of dramatic geological structures will be used for educational purposes and in a film to document the group’s research. On this trip they launched a new approach to research—“one that has probably not been used by geologists in the way we are using it,” Brand said. “We flew along three different cliffs, for 20 to 50 miles for each cliff, video-filming all the way. This gives us a unique type of data that can be used in the study of how laterally extensive individual rock units are. The farther these units extend, laterally, the more they appear like large-scale, catastrophic deposits than like the geological processes that occur on earth today.”

A biblical view of earth history predicts that the evidence will indicate more catastrophic processes. The evidence the researchers gathered promises to be very instructive in evaluating this prediction.

ON LOCATION: Researchers Leonard Brand (left), Rose Weeks (center), and Art Chadwick (right) on location in Utah during filming by Laymen Ministrie. [PHOTO: Laayman Ministries]
“Taking the Bible record at face value opens a researcher’s thinking to new ideas and possibilities that have likely not been thought of before,” Chadwick added. “These ideas must then be followed up with careful research, so that our work will stand up to criticism and will honor God. It is exciting to work with God on such a venture.”

During the trip, Chadwick and Brand were also interviewed and filmed by Laymen Ministries, an ASI-member organization, for a feature-length documentary film entitled The Days of Noah. LM founder/director Jeff Reich and his crew filmed the researchers in action as they worked on colorful rock outcrops.

Laymen Ministries has pioneered lay mission projects worldwide and operates schools, medical facilities, student missionary programs, health and lay training, and an international television ministry. The Days of Noah will consist of interviews, reenactments, on-site narrations, animation, aerial footage, and sweeping landscapes to uphold the validity of the biblical account of a literal worldwide flood and to relate the message of Noah to our time and to the three angels’ messages.

Meanwhile, Brand and Chadwick and their fellow researchers will continue to study the geological evidence they’ve gathered. Their research will form the basis for future study on how scientific inquiry and the Bible intersect.

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