How old are the Niagara Falls

3 Jun 2011

In Earth in Upheaval , page 139-141, Velikovsky says, that Lake Agassiz, a large glacial lake that once covered the region at present occupied by Lake Winnepeg, Lake Manitoba, and a number of other lakes in Canada as well as part of the North Central States to the south, was formed when the ice sheet melted buts its sediment indicates it had a life of less than a thousand years - before dissipating (presumably by rivers). It was a temporary feature of the landscape and Velikovsky drew from this fact the idea that at the end of the Ice Age the ice sheets melted quickly and under catastrophic conditions. It was also found the shoreline of this extinct lake is not horizontal - and warping has occurred since the lake was formed (after the end of the Ice Age). This point is important as we come to look at Niagara as a warping event would also have affected that region also. Velikovsky quotes Warren Upham, The Glacial Lake Agassiz (1895) page 240. On page 141 of Earth in Upheaval Velikovsky turns his attention to Niagara - and the thorny question of when it began to erode the escarpment rock over which it flows. He says Lyell, when told the falls retreat at the rate of 3 feet a year, by locals (not geologists) was impressed enough to accept Joe Public exagerated a wee bit and it was really just 1 foot a year. He came up with a figure of 35,000 years ago, for the beginning of the erosion. However, if the 3 feet a year was appropriate, Velikovsky says, the falls, which are thought to have formed at the end of the Ice Age (18,000 years ago) would be about 11,600 years ago (which is approximately the end of the Younger Dryas event and the beginning of the Holocene). However, the erosion, as Velikovsky points out, had possibly been as much as 5 feet a year nearer the Ice Age by reason the melt water would have been greater than the modern river flow - which makes sense. This reduces the date to 7000 years ago. He then adds, that an even higher rate of erosion nearer the Ice Age would bring the numbers down to 5000 years ago - and he seems to be saying that the Ice Age must also be downdated to conform with this simple arithmetic. However, he goes further still and suggests it may date from 3500 years ago, thereby conforming with his projected 1500BC catastrophic encounter with Venus (per Worlds in Collision). Indeed, he goes so far as to imply that Lake Agassiz and the retreat of the ice sheet should be redated 1500-500BC. So, what is the history of the Niagara Falls - geologically. In effect, it is somewhat ambiguous, and as such, the ambiguity leads to obfuscation - even a 'don't look here we know best' kind of explanation.

At Wikipedia - ( ) it is said the escarpment formed when glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age (or the end of the Late Glacial Maximum or Wisconsin ice sheet). The escarpment is not particularly high but is exceptionally wide, running west from New York State through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois, and is composed of Silurian period rocks (presumably thrust upwards). A huge lake or lakes formed at the bottom of the receding ice sheet and for some reason Wikipedia dates this to 10,000 years ago, some 8000 years after the end of the Ice Age (but 10,000 years ago being the end of the Pleistocene). Now, if we assume the Wikipedia editor has got his Ice Age mixed up with his Pleistocene we can move on - but should we. The dates are important as we are talking about the erosion of the escarpment by the Niagara River. The thinking is a bit woolly - but is it really a question of dazzling with numbers. It seems the current rate of erosion is 1 foot a year but the historical average is said to be 3 feet a year - which Joe Public told them years ago. The calculation is that it has taken 10,000 years to erode the escarpment to where the falls have retreated - nearly 7 miles (10.9km). 

At there is a report of a geological field trip to Niagara - with pictures of the geology. It says ice covered the region up till 12,500 years ago (a date within the Younger Dyras event) - presumably because they can't stretch the rate of erosion that far backwards. We still are left with a missing 6000 years which also included the Bolling-Alleroed warm phase when all the ice should have melted away. This is interesting as geologists appear to have a problem - which is being glossed over. At we have the Creationist view - it seems to have been lifted from Velikovsky. They claim, for example, the rate of erosion was something like 5 feet a year and it began eroding between 9000 and 7000 years ago, a number that caused a bell to ring in my head. Although they go on to follow in the footsteps of Velikvosky and arrive at a date of 3500 years ago, for their own reasons, the 9000-7000 years ago figure is illuminating as it embraces the 6200-6000BC mini-dryas event which involved worldwide and dramatic changes in sea level - ushering in the Mid Holocene Warm Period (or Hypsithermal). If this involved a change in the axis of rotation this would have affected the height of the escarpment - and bearing in mind there is evidence of a warping event on the escarpment (which might be contiguous with a change in the axis of rotation) might this be the point that the Niagara river began to erode what had become a blockage in its route to the south. If erosion is measured from that point rather than from the end of the Ice Age it is not necessary to think in terms of a drastic increase in flow as a result of meltwater - undermining the idea of Velikovsky and the Creationists that the Ice Age was a recent event. However, as Paul Dunbavin has presented good evidence that a further change in the axis of rotation occurred around 3200BC, coinciding with a noteable low growth tree ring event, but necessarily much smaller than the 6200-6000BC event, we might also look for some evidence of a hiccup in the rate of erosion. Now, at a web site for tourists, and Joe Public, we have a rather good overview of the geology - Wikipedia please take note. It seems that for a long period during the early Holocene the flow of water was diverted, due, it says to isostatic rebound, through northern Ontario - causing Lake Erie to shrink. The flow at Niagara was minimal for thousands of years but around 5500 years ago (a rough figure) it was again re-routed through southern Ontario, restoring the river and falls to full flow. Why it did this is unsaid - but the 3200BC event would appear to be one option. A diversion hints at geological change - and this is indeed what would have occurred with a change in the axis of rotation, no matter how small. At some point, perhaps as late as 4500 years ago, which may embrace the 2300BC event (see Moe Mandelkehr, The 2300BC Event, Denver:2006) there was a dramatic change in direction of the river, it was skewed around on itself - and this happened in a matter of days.

Obviously, if one were to assume the Holocene was much shorter as Young Earth Creationists do, the conventional numbers become meaningless, but once again we see that mainstream science is at fault as in this instance the uniformitarians have concentrated on a rate of erosion that is slow but even then they have been unable to stretch it very far backwards in time - certainly not as far as 18,000 years ago. We are left wondering how viable that date really is or how reliable the C14 dates that have been collated may really be - although ice cores should support the orthodox posiition. The point is, from a catastrophist point of view, decay rates as we have seen in another post, are affected by electrical phenomena - and therefore so too must C14. Not only that but C14 methodology has been primed and tightened over the years and many of these dates go back to a period when C14 was a fledgling science and errors were common. Did the Ice Age really end with a 3000 year Oldest Dryas event (or Heinrich One as it is now termed)? That seems inordinately long, a double whammy of the 1500 year cycle - is this a computer driven calculation rather than a true observation that can be backed up by ice cores? The same goes for the Younger Dryas event - did it really last over a thousand years? It was initially assigned the magical 1500 year cycle but this has been reduced step by step to between 1300 years and a 1000 years, but are we confronted here with a C14 plateau rather than a real actual period of time? If you read the literature you don't realise how fragile the orthodox position really is simply because they won't confront problems - but hide them away. Why? Why not say we don't know but we think this might be the way it was. Hard to understand the mindset involved.