The key observation that must be explained away is the linear relationship between the measured ages of these islands (more than 100 independent measurements) and their distance from the volcanic hotspot. You see, we have two independent sets of data (age and distance) that support the uniformity of movement of the Pacific plate over a period of 65 million years.1
Of course, the creationist Plate Tectonic Model is well able to account for this pattern within the biblical time scale.2
However, research reported just this week in Science raised questions about the hot-spot story itself.3 From the beginning of the paper the authors spoke about the problems of finding the hot spot:
The Hawaiian hotspot is often attributed to hot material rising from depth in the mantle, but efforts to detect a thermal plume seismically have been inconclusive.4
Instead of a hot spot, the researchers found what they have described as a pool of magma (molten rock) 800- to 2000-kilometer-wide over 1000 km west of Hawaii. They said:
hot material does not rise from the lower mantle through a narrow vertical plume.
In other words, they have not found any hot-spot under Hawaii. Instead, they reported:
[the hot material] accumulates near the base of the transition zone before being entrained in flow toward Hawaii and, perhaps, other islands.
They included a diagram of what they envisage may be happening (above). They conclude:
This implies that geochemical trends in Hawaiian lavas cannot constrain lower mantle domains directly.
In other words, the trend in potassium-argon dates and other chemical elements does not seem to be connected with plate movement over an alleged hot spot.
Of course, this all depends on the reliability of the geophysical data and its interpretation, and the story will change as more investigations are carried out.
Which brings us back to the crux of the issue: what are we going to put our trust in? Are we going to trust the speculations of people who are inventing stories to agree with their non-biblical beliefs about the past—stories that are constantly changing? Or are we going to trust the Word of God, which claims to be an eyewitness report?
References and Notes
- Comment by David E. Levin during discussion on a readers review A Powerful Refutation of Dawkins’ Greatest Show On Earth on Amazon, October 4, 2010, http://www.amazon.com/review/R2JX3NRJFUBYVY/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1921643064&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=#wasThisHelpful
- See The Creation Answers Book, Ch 11, What about continental drift?
- See, Scott Johnson, Hawaii’s volcanic hotspot appears badly off-center, 2 June 2011,
- Cao, Q., et al., Seismic Imaging of Transition Zone Discontinuities Suggests Hot Mantle West of Hawaii, Science 332(6033):1068–1071, 27 May 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1202731