Is the Earth Young?

A Response to the Meteorite Dust Argument

5. The rate at which meteoritic dust is accumulating on the earth is such that after 5 billion years, the equivalent of 182 feet of this dust should have accumulated. Because this dust is high in nickel, there should be an exceedingly large amount of nickel in the crustal rocks of the earth. No such concentration has been found--on land or in the oceans. Consequently, the earth appears to be young.
a) Henry M. Morris, Scientific Creationism (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1974), pp. 151-153.
b) Steveson, pp. 23-25.
c) Hans Peterson, "Cosmic Spherules and Meteoritic Dust," Scientific American, Vol. 202, February, 1960, p. 132.

6. If the moon were billions of years old, it should have accumulated extensive layers of space dust--possibly a mile in thickness. Before instruments were placed on the moon, NASA was very concerned that our astronauts would sink into a sea of dust. This did not happen; there is very little space dust on the moon. Conclusion: the moon is young.

First, allow me to point out that, as in the case of the Earth's magnetic field, I have also published on the web an extensive criticism of the space-dust argument - "Meteorite Dust and the Age of the Earth".

Henry Morris, to arrive at his influx figure, cites the paper by Pettersson in Scientific American. But the number cited by Morris as the influx rate given by Pettersson was actually Pettersson's maximum possible rate. Indeed, Pettersson specifically says that the most probable rate is about 1/3 of the rate quoted by Morris.

Having screwed up the citation from Pettersson, Morris and other creationists have proceeded to ignore all of the science done in this fast-paced business for what now amounts to nearly 40 years!, continuing to cite Pettersson's 1960 paper.

But much work has been done since then, and the correct rate of influx is now known, from direct spacecraft measurements, and from observation of meteorite influx. See my article for the supporting details. The bottom line is that a much better number for the true dust accumulation rate on the earth is approximately 66 centimeters over the entire 4.5 billion year history of the earth, assuming the infall rate is constant (probably not such a good assumption), but ignoring compaction of the dust under its own weight (space dust is very fragile and would compress easily).

As for the business about NASA being afraid of a deep layer of dust greeting the astronauts, that is a fiction, probably invented by Harold Slusher. 'Twas never so. By the early 60's scientists knew that any dust layer could not be greater in depth than one meter at the very most, and was more likely 10cm or less. By 1965 the Ranger spacecraft had proven there was no deep dust layer. And, of course, the Surveyor landers had gone ahead of the astronauts, and landed on a hard surface. By the time astronauts were on their way nobody expected them to sink out of sight into the dust. They knew there might be a thin dust layer, which could be a problem if it were kicked up by landing rockets. That was a concern, but the creationists have misinterpreted this concern into the fear of a deep dust layer.


  • Meteorite Dust and the Age of the Earth - Tim Thompson
  • Cosmic Dust - Dave Matson
  • The Age of the Earth - Chris Stassen