Shenandoah geology -- comments by Paul Heinrich

From: Heinrich 
Newsgroups: talk.origins
Subject: Re: Human fossils in coal (was: Human/hominid and other...) 
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 22:05:13 -0600
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Subject: Re: Human fossils in coal (was: Human/hominid and other...)
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Given the sparks flying in the thread _Re: Human/hominid
and other large-animal remains in Carboniferous strata_, I
thought that I might provide some background data to the
heated exchange under a different title.  This is also to make
good on a comment that the concretions like those alleged to
be bones have been studied and published on.

-- Geological Background --

Ted Holden in his web page _Petrified human/hominid and other
large animal bone in Carboniferous strata_ on these curiosities
stated:

     _I was on a field trip in the coal mining districts of
     Pennsylvania Saturday 3/16/96 in the environs of the town
     of Shenandoah, and saw a number of things with shattering
     consequences to the field of paleontology and to all of our
     ideas about the antiquity of man and about the age of our
     Earth._

Similarly, in the article from _The Spotlight_ that Mr. Conrad
reprinted is datelined from Shenandoah and notes that the
material was _stumbled upon in Schuylkill County seven
years ago._   Thus, a person can assume that the material came
from the mines around Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

The general geology of the Shenandoah area can be
determined from:

1. Danilchik, W., Rothrock, H. E., Wagner, H. C., 1955, Geology
of anthracite in the western part of the Shenandoah Quadrangle,
Pennsylvania. Coal-Investigations-Map C-0021, U. S. Geological
Survey, Reston, VA

2. Kehn, Thomas Mathew, and Wagner, Holly, Clyde, 1955, Geology
of anthracite in the eastern part of the Shenandoah Quadrangle,
Pennsylvania. Coal Investigations Map C-0019, U. S. Geological
Survey, Reston, VA

From the above geological maps, it is clearly obvious that the
coal and the mining within the Shenandoah area is restricted to
Bear and adjacent other ridges.  These ridges are underlain by
the Llewellyn Formation which contains the minable seams
(Levine and Eggleston 1992, Wood and Arndt 1969).  As shown
by U. S. Geological Survey (1955), mining and the dumping of
mine waste has extensively and almost completely altered
the surface of Bear Ridge.  It is within the Llewellyn Formation
that the concretions claimed to be bones occur.

1. Wood, G. H. Jr., and Arndt, H. H., 1969, Geologic map
of the Shenandoah Quadrangle, Schuylkill County,
Pennsylvania. Geologic Quadrangle Map GQ-0781, U. S.
Geological Survey, Reston, VA.

2. Levine, J. R., and Eggleston, Jane R., 1992, Field trip
guidebook; the anthracite basins of eastern Pennsylvania.
Open File Report OF 92-0568, United-States  U. S. Geological
Survey, Reston, Virginia 72 p.

3. U. S. Geological Survey, 1955, Shenandoah Quadrangle
Pennsylvania - Schuylkill County 7.5 Minute (Topographic),
1:24,000 scale, U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.

As stated by Levine and Eggleston (1992, p. 5),

   _Lithologically, she Llewellyn Formation is a complex
   heterogeneous mixture of clastic rock types ranging from
   conglomerate to clay shale and includes numerous coal beds.
   The upper one-third of the formation is present only in a
   limited area of the Southern field and is so poorly exposed
   that little detail is available.  The lower two-thirds is
   characterized by continuous rapid vertical and lateral
   variability.  Llewellyn rocks range in color from light gray to
   dark gray, gray-black. black, yellow-gray, and some green gray
   and brown-gray. Fossilized plant material is common
   throughout.  Most Llewellyn clastics may be classified as
    subgraywackes._

The thickest preserved section of the Llewellyn Formation
is about 1700 m (3400 ft) thick.  This entire thickness of the
Llewellyn Formation contains numerous fossil soils and
sedimentary structures and facies indicative of sediments
deposited by northwestward flowing rivers and streams
(Levine and Eggleston 1992, Wood et al. 1986).

During the Middle and Upper Pennsylvanian, these rivers
were part pf a broad, low-lying plain.  To the southeast, these
plains graded into alluvial fans lying at the base of a
southwest-northeast trending mountain range that cut
across the southeast corner of Pennsylvania.  To the northwest
these rivers fed deltas bordering a shallow sea within central
and western Pennsylvania (Levine and Eggleston 1992,
Wood et al. 1986).

Levine, J. R., and Eggleston, Jane R., 1992, Field trip
guidebook; the anthracite basins of eastern Pennsylvania.
Open File Report OF 92-0568, United-States  U. S. Geological
Survey, Reston, Virginia 72 p.

Wood, G. H., Kehn, T. M., and Eggleston, J. R., 1986,
Depositional and structural history of the Pennsylvanian
Anthracite region. In Paleoenvironmental Controls in
Coal-Forming Basins of the United States. Geological Society
of America Special Paper no. 210, Boulder, Colorado.

Both Mr. Holden and Mr. Conrad claim that the strata containing
their alleged bones, which is about two-thirds of mile thick, was
deposited during a single flood despite its thickness; the presence
of numerous fossil, buried soils, called paleosols; and despite the
presence of well-defined sedimentary deposits containing the
lithologies and sedimentary structures characteristic of sediments
deposited by rivers and streams as floodplains, swamps, and deltas
and by shallow seas as sea bottom, beaches, and shorefaces.

-- Carbonate Nodules --

In his web page, Ted Holden suggests three possible explanations
by saying:

     _The evidence seems to suggest one of three possibilities:

     * 1. humans/hominids were around in the Carboniferous
           period, conventionally dated to 300m years ago.
     * 2. The Carboniferous period is vastly more recent than
           conventionally dated.
     * 3. The evidence is the result of an elaborate hoax._

The one possibility that Mr. Holden fails to mention is that these
alleged bones are actually carbonate concretions as even Mr. Conrad
admits was told him.  In his testimony, Mr. Conrad states:

    _ But in each and every case my specimens were called
concretions - certainly not petrified bone, even though opinions
were based strictly on visual observation, without testing of any
kind._

The problem is that concretions are so well known and described
from the Pennsylvanian strata of the Anthracite region and
many, many other places, that it is very easy, even trivial, to
identify them as such without testing of any kind.  For example,
calcareous concretions, caliche, associated with fossil, buried soils,
of a type called _vertisols_, have been known and studied in
outcrops of the Mauch Chunk Formation that underlies the
Llewellyn and Pottsville Formations.  These are calcareous
nodules that formed within these soils and in shallow ponds
during seasonal dry periods (Holbrook 1970, Levine and
Singerland 1987, Levine and Eggleston 1992).  Even in coal-
bearing strata, vertisols containing caliche nodules have been
found to be present (Joeckel 1995).

A significant aspect of caliche is that it often forms around and
will preserve fossil bone (Retallack 1984). Thus, it would be
expected that at least some thin sections made of caliche
nodules can contain bone exhibiting the typical structure of
bone.  It would be easy to either misinterpret or misrepresent
the inclusions of bone in caliche nodules as evidence of the
nodules themselves being bones.

However, calcareous concretions found within the Llewellyn and
Pottsville Formations consist of an iron carbonate mineral called
_siderite_.  As documented by Gardner et al. (1988) and other
geologists these nodules are commonly found with the backswamp
and lacustrine deposits of Pennsylvanian coal-bearing strata.  In
fact, Greenleaf and Yemane (1993) found near Shamokin,
Pennsylvania an abundance of siderite nodules in the same
Llewellyn Formation that underlies Shenandoah.   As they note:

     _The Llewellyn Formation is the major coal-bearing
     Pennsylvanian-age formation in the anthracite fields of
     eastern Pennsylvania. It comprises thick sandstones,
     mudstones, and anthracite-grade coals deposited on
     alluvial plains. In the abandoned Bear Valley Strip
     Mine of Shamokin, abundant siderite concretions with
     cm to m diameter are exposed along the bedding planes
     of folded beds._

Note that these concretions range in size from centimeter
to meter-scale.

Greenleaf and Yemane (1993) report that the larger concretions
contain the well-preserved remains of whole lycopsid stems
and leaves.  It is very likely, that these concretions might also
contain bones and bone fragments.  As a result, it could be
possible to section one of these concretions and find well
preserved cellular structure of either bone or plant remains.
Thus, it might be possible to find and either misinterpret or
misrepresent the inclusions of bone in these concretions as
evidence of the concretions themselves being bones.

Given the odd shapes and sizes that concretions can form,
it would very easy for any of the objects so far illustrated
by Mr. Holden and Mr. Conrad to be siderite concretions.
It many ways, it is a simple explanation of why so
many honest scientists, who Mr. Conrad claims without
any proof at all to be _dishonest_, identify them as
_concretions_.

References

Gardner, T. W., Williams, E. G., and Holbrook, P. W., 1988,
Pedogensis of some Pennsylvanian underclays; ground-water,
topographic, and tectonic controls. in J. Reinhardt and W. R.
Sigleo (eds.), pp. 81-102, Paleosols and Weathering Through
Geologic Time. Geological Society of America Special Paper
no. 216, Boulder, Colorado.

Greenleaf, J., and Yemane, K., 1993, Depositional and diagenetic
records in the siderite concretions of the Llewellyn Formation
from the Anthracite field, PA. Geological Society of Abstracts
with Programs, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 20.

Holbrook, Philip W., 1970, The sedimentology and pedology of the
Mauch Chunk Formation (Mississippian) at Pottsville (Schuylkill
County), Pennsylvania and their climatic implications.
unpublished Master's thesis Franklin and Marshall College,
United-States.

Joeckel, R. M., 1995, Paleosols below the Ames marine Unit
(Upper Pennsylvanian), Comemaugh Group in the Appalachian
Basin, U.S.A.: variability on an ancient depositional landscape.
Journal of Sedimentary Research, vol. A65, no. 2, pp. 393-407.

Levine, J. R., and Eggleston, Jane R., 1992, Field trip
guidebook; the anthracite basins of eastern Pennsylvania.
Open File Report OF 92-0568, United-States  U. S. Geological
Survey, Reston, Virginia 72 p.

Levine, J. R., and Singerland, R., 1987, Upper Mississippian to
Middle Pennsylvanian stratigraphic section Pottsville,
Pennsylvania. in D. C. Roy (ed.), pp. 59-63, Centennial Field
Guide, Volume 5, Northeastern Section of the Geological
Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

Retallack, G., 1984, Completeness of the rock and fossil record:
some estimates using fossil soils. Paliobiology. vol. 10, pp. 59-78.

It is safe to hypothesize that the so-called Petrified human/hominid
and other large animal bone in Carboniferous strata_ Of Mr. Holden and
Mr. Conrad are nothing more than odd-shaped siderite nodules like
other siderite nodules which have been documented as having been
found in the Llewellyn Formation.

I also hypothesize that the claims of _deceipt, dishonesty,
collusion and conspiracy_ on the part of scientists are mythical
and imaginary, although Mr. Conrad believes them to be true.
Undoubtedly, enough imagined slights by people sincerely
trying to help him have occurred to provide for a detailed
accounting of a Satanic, evilutionist, cabal of frauds, cheats,
liars, and international scientists and Trilateralists out to
smear the good name of the late, great Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky.

Sincerely,
Paul V. Heinrich
(as a private citizen)
heinrich@intersurf.com
Baton Rouge, LA

Earthquakes don't kill people.
Overpasses and buildings kill people.
-anonymous civil engineer

All comments are the personal opinion of the writer and
do not constitute policy and/or opinion of government
or corporate entities.  This includes my employer.


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