Is the Earth Young?

A Response to the No Fossil Meteorites Argument

4. There have been no authenticated reports of the discovery of meteorites in sedimentary material. If the sediments, which have an average depth of 1 miles, were laid down over hundreds of millions of years, any of these steadily falling meteorites should have been discovered. Therefore, the sediments appear to have been deposited rapidly; furthermore, since there have been no reports of meteorites beneath the sediments, they appear to have been deposited recently.
a) Peter A. Steveson, "Meteoric Evidence or a Young Earth," Creation Research Quarterly, Vol. 12, June, 1975, pp. 23-25.

In the book Christianity and the Age of the Earth (1988; Artisan Sales, Thousand Oaks CA), geologist Davis Young says "The chances of finding a fossil meteorite in sedimentary rocks are remote. It is not to be expected." Even before Steveson's article, in the book Meteorites and Their Origin (1973), G.J. McCall says "The lack of fossil record of true meteorites is puzzling, but can be explained by the lack of very diagnostic shapes and the chemical nature of meteorites, which allows rapid decay..." This tells us that geologists knew, before steveson suggested otherwise, that there should not be many fossilized meteorites, and for good reasons.

However, the statement that there are no confirmed sedimentary meteorites is false. See, for instance, "Against All Odds"; Christopher Spratt & Sally Stephens; Mercury 21(2): 50-56 (Mar/Apr 1992) [Mercury is the quarterly popular publication of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific]. They report the later discovery that an object found in Swedish limestone in 1952 was in fact a stoney meteorite. An Iron meteorite was found in Georgia in 1940, in miocene age sediments. There are, despite Steveson, confirmed meteorites in sedimentary strata.

However, it isn't the meteorites that are so important - it's the impacts. The earth is littered with impact features, some relatively young (such as Barringer Crater in Arizona, aka "meteor crater"), some ancient (like the enormous Chixulub impact feature in the Yucutan, so thoroughly eroded that many geologists walked around on it for years without even noticing what it was). Dave Matson lists 130 " fossilized meteor craters", found in sediments all over the earth.

While big meteorites are hard to find, meteorite dust is not that hard; it is found buried in sediments the world over. Here is one example.

First conclusion is that there are indeed fossilized meteorites in sedimentary rocks. But the real story is that the small number is not relevant, because it is the impact feature that counts. The earth is covered with meteor craters, and if you want to, you can go and look there for fragments of the impactor, fossilized in the target rocks. The number of impact basins, and their state of erosion, is not at all incompatible with an old earth, and do not provide positive evidence for a young earth.

  • Database of Terrestrial Impact Structures