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Carlsbad Caverns

Updated: May 19

How did such massive caverns come about?

Application: Caverns demonstrate the events of the flood, and events after the flood.

In this Lesson, Dr. Bob visits Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico to observe sediments deposited in the flood, the events that carved out the cavern, and created the stalactites and stalagmites.

Supplemental Information

Carlsbad Caverns, and most other caverns in the world, are a tale to two major events. Their current environment can be an obstacle to many scientists seeking to understand their origins. The arid environment above this cavern bears no resemblance to the flood waters that deposited the limestone sediments that created the initial deposits, the acidic waters that carved the great cavities, or the wet climate that allowed the formation of the dramatic features present today. But the Bible provides an account that explains their creation, and the remnants left behind confirm that record.

Limestone Creation

Critical to our understanding of caverns such as this is an understanding of the limestone material they are carved from. The marine fossils found so frequently in these deposits provides a compelling clue to their origin. Most of the major limestone strata either contain large numbers of catastrophically buried fossils (often corals and shellfish) and are in a sequence of other strata that contain large numbers of catastrophically buried fossils. As these layers of lime sediment were deposited, they were buried rapidly under huge amounts of other sediments. The weight on top of the lime sediments then compressed them, creating the limestone material that forms the basis of this cavern system. Rather than taking long periods of time to deposit, the fossils present within these sediments demonstrate the rapid nature of their deposition.

Dissolving the Cavern

With the limestone in place, the next step in the creation of these massive caverns was the creation of the voids and cavities within them. The world after the flood continued to adjust to these catastrophic events. The ground continued to shift and move, often creating fractures. Such was the case in this area of New Mexico.

Recent reports have confirmed that these fractures, the presence of mineral-rich groundwater, the concentrations of sulfur in the deposits, and petroleum deposits combined in this area allow the creation of sulfuric acid which was able to dissolve the limestone. These conditions would have created these caverns in days and weeks as opposed to the thousands or even millions of years that are often proposed.

International Journal of Speleology, 47 (3), 263-270. Tampa, FL (USA) September 2018

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Uniformitarian ideas often intrude into scientific analysis in surprising ways. When observing the unique structures in the Carlsbad Caverns, none are more dramatic than the stalactites and stalagmites. They hang from the ceiling and rise up from the floors in ghostly forms. And they seem to be timeless. They seem to grow so slowly, it is easy to assume that they took centuries to form. And in the current environment they might never form at all. However, looking a little closer reveals the true nature of their formation.

These features are formed as waters from the surface pass through the organic materials on the surface, forming carbonic acid, and dissolving calcium in the rocks above and dripping down through cracks in the caverns ceiling. As this mineral-rich water drips down, it evaporates, leaving behind the minerals that form these features. With the arid conditions of the New Mexico desert, the drips that form these monuments come infrequently.

Several discoveries have confirmed that this was not always the case. In images provided by the National Park Service and National Geographic several bats have been found completely encased in stalagmites. They were covered with mineral deposits before they could decompose, some are simply skeletons, others still contain flesh. This is a dramatic confirmation that the features we observe today were formed rapidly in the more recent past. The period immediately after the flood was a much wetter world as the warmer waters fueled massive storms throughout the world and deposited massive amounts of rain over this area. This water then dripped down through the ground into these caverns, creating these features. Similar wet conditions in Yellowstone National Park allow formations to grow as much as an inch a year.

National Geographic

National Park Service

A Sequence of Recent Events

Carlsbad Caverns are another reminder of Earth's catastrophic history. Rather than demonstrating a process that requires millions of years, they verify the more recent events of the Biblical flood, and the conditions that followed. The Bible records these events and as we look closely, we can see evidence of God's creation, His judgement, and His deliverance.

Carlsbad Worksheet
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Scripture References

  • "And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die." Genesis 6:17

  • "But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters receded from the earth continually." Genesis 8:1-3

  • "Men will go into caves of the rocks, And into holes of the ground, Before the terror of the Lord, And the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble., In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats, Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship, In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble." Isaiah 2:19-21

  • "Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;" Revelation 6:15

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