We haven’t discussed polystrate fossils in some time, but received an interesting email concerning them that I felt worthy to address here.

From: Eric
Subject: Polystrate Fossils

I read your article on Polystrate Fossils and I have to say I’m a little surprised to see this because the problem was solved over 100 years ago. Polystrate trees come from a flood plain that floods multiple times a year. The trees can stand perfectly fine with sediment rising in by inch over the years.


Eric, thank you for emailing us with your comments.  I have to say that at least you recognize that polystrate fossils indicate rapid burial, however, your scenario has a couple of problems.

The first problem is that most polystrate trees have no roots associated with them.  If there are any roots, they are small, short and broken off, indicating that the tree was ripped from the ground.  We can see this after a bad storm when trees are blown over and uprooted.  If the trees were buried as you describe, then there should be extensive roots found with them.

Secondly, is the issue of time.  I find it interesting that you claim the problem has been solved for 100 years.  Emeritus Professor Derek Ager, from the University College of Swansea is an ardent evolutionists and well-schooled in uniformitarian geology described the problem polystrate fossils, saying:

If one estimates the total thickness of the British Coal Measures as about 1000 m, laid down in about 10 million years, then, assuming a constant rate of sedimentation, it would have taken 100 000 years to bury a tree 10 m high, which is ridiculous.

‘Alternatively, if a 10 m tree were buried in 10 years, that would mean 1000 km in a million years or 10 000 km in 10 million years (i.e. the duration of the coal measures). This is equally ridiculous and we cannot escape the conclusion that sedimentation was at times very rapid indeed and at other times there were long breaks in sedimentation, though it looks both uniform and continuous [emphasis added].

I’ve seen polystrate trees extending nearly 20 feet through rock layers that were not uniform.  My geology professor said that the tree extended through several million years of rock layers.  I asked him how a tree could have survived that long without rotting away.  He told me that it must have happened because there it was right in front of us.  I then asked him why there were no roots.  He got really mad and glared at me and changed the subject.

I’ve looked through current literature and most evolutionary geologists still have a problem with polystrate fossils.  I didn’t find any of them that described the events that you put forth.

But when you really think about what you said, you are explaining them with rapid processes of deposition.  Yet, this does not fit with the interpretation of the rock layering many polytrates are found in.  If not for the polystrate fossil, geologist generally explain the multiple layers as thousands to millions of years.  Then, from what you are saying, if they find a polystrate tree extending through it, it’s no longer thousands and millions of years, but evidence of rapid flooding and deposition.  I always find it amusing how easily the evolutionary facts change when new evidence is found.  That tells me that they are facts to begin with.

All I can say is that you are right in that polystrate fossils were deposited and buried fairly rapidly.  Dr Steve Austin found evidence at Spirit Lake, beneath Mount St. Helens of how some polystrate trees could have been preserved.  When Mount St. Helens blew, it flattened miles and miles of forest.  Thousands of trees were blown into Spirit Lake.  Over time, some of the logs became water logged, more at one end than the other, and began to float in various degrees of upright positions.  As the logs grew more water logged, they sank at different times to the bottom of the lake.

When he dove to the bottom of Spirit Lake, he discovered numerous upright logs, buried at various depths in the peat collecting on the bottom.  It was easy to see that these logs would be covered in time with a layer of peat that could eventually turn to coal.

No matter how you look at it, polystrate fossils, especially trees, are evidence of catastrophic events, one of which was the Flood described in Genesis.  There would have been huge mats of floating trees through the Flood waters, and like at Spirit Lake, they would have sunk at different times and been buried by all of the sediment ripped up by the Flood waters.


Ager, Derek V., The New Catastrophism, Cambridge University Press, p. 49, 1993.

Austin, Steve.  Personal conversation with him.

Biblical Geology: Properly Understanding The Rocks

About the Title: Using easy-to-understand illustrations and terms, geologist Tas Walker shows how the Genesis account of a worldwide Flood gives the best explanation for the rock layers that we see today. If you aren’t convinced now, you will be after hearing this talk! (High School-Adult)

DVD, 36 minutes

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