I wrote and submitted a letter to the editors at the National Academy of Sciences concerning a paper they recently published in PNAS titled, “Sustained wood burial in the Bengal Fan over the last 19My.” The title of the letter was “Uncovering an historic error,” and, after submission, it was with the editors for about 24 hours…. With so little diligence to such an historic matter, the PNAS editor informed me that they declined to publish it. They gave neither comment nor reason.
Regardless of the rationale, their decision is further indication that “no flood, ever” is as deeply entrenched as it is incorrect…. Folks, this is the National Academy of Sciences failing to recognize Sedgwick’s error! Interestingly, the authors and editor(s) chose not to include in their article the map of the drill region, which I included in my letter. Why could that be?
So, for the historical record, here is the letter in its entirety. Its length could be no more than 500 words, which accounts for the brevity. But the message is completely correct and, therefore, appropriate:
Uncovering an historic error
The reported significance of “Sustained wood burial in the Bengal Fan over the last 19 My” is that “woody debris can survive thousands of kilometers of transport in rivers and in turbidites, to be deposited in the fan.” (1)
The immediate problem: the drill site from which the article’s cores were obtained is not in the Ganges deposit fan. That is, there is no known mechanism by which turbidites, let alone sufficient quantities of covering, preserving, sandy sediments, could be transported more than 1600 kilometers through the essentially stagnant water from the Ganges’ entry into the Bay of Bengal to the drill location.
The drill region from which the paper’s sandy cores were obtained is shown on the map, below, left. To its right is a map of a portion of the Ganges drainage (rotated 90o clockwise from north for comparison). Each displayed region measures roughly 30 km by 50 km and is viewed from a height of approximately 90 km. (2)
Had ancient wood chips been discovered in one of the subaerial oxbows, then it would be explained this way: the trees were carried downstream, deposited, covered, then preserved in the river’s sediments.
Accordingly, the essential question becomes: how do we come to find oxbows in 3700 m of water?
Pursuing it leads to an historic matter: Adam Sedgwick’s “no worldwide flood, ever” conclusion that affects all modern science. (3) It turns out that Sedgwick erred: from the evidence, he should have concluded that subaerial landscapes were never subjected to a common flood. Instead, he concluded that there was never a worldwide flood, thereby passing judgment on the morphology of vast, submerged landscapes that he could not observe. No one could observe them until the publication of detailed bathymetry maps about a decade ago.
Therefore, the discovery of preserved tree chips in abyssal Bay of Bengal oxbows is not evidence of some ad hoc sediment transmission process conjured to fit observations to the prevailing, incorrect “no worldwide flood, ever” paradigm. Rather, the discovery of preserved wood chips obtained from oxbows submerged beneath 3700 m of water represents unambiguous evidence of the worldwide flood.
Thus, the Lee et. al. paper must be retracted. Its authors should be counseled to consider re-submitting with the purpose of correcting Sedgwick’s historic error.
- H. Lee, V. Galy, X. Feng, C. Ponton, A. Galy, C. France-Lanord, S.J. Feakins, Sustained wood burial in the Bengal Fan over the last 19My. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116, 22518-22525 (2019).
- Maps: left, centered vicinity 7.91°N, 85.854°E; right, vicinity 26.732°N, 82.252°E. Google Earth, earth.google.com/web/.
- Sedgwick, A. Address to the Geological Society of London, on retiring from the President’s Chair, February 18, 1831.