The Coconino Sandstone: Implications for Flood Geology

Photo from Wikimedia Commons by brewbooks

The Coconino Sandstone, a well-known rock layer of the Grand Canyon and surrounding regions, has long been considered to be an example of an ancient eolian, or wind-blown, sandstone. However, literature review and prior research (in lab and field) have shown that it should be interpreted as a marine sandstone instead. Surrounding formations such as the Lyons, Tensleep, and Glorietta Sandstones show remarkably similar features to that of the Coconino–and geologist Dr. John Whitmore attempts to correlate them as being deposited during approximately the same geologic time period, analogous to a large “blanket” over much of the western U.S. states.  

This study is significant in our understanding of Flood geology, as the similarities across these widespread Permian sandstones imply that they were likely deposited in a marine environment like the Coconino.

Whitmore’s research concludes that the Coconino sandstone can be correlated as a diachronous sand body that ranges all the way from North Dakota to southern California with a total area of approximately 2.4 million km2. Interestingly, provenance studies of the Coconino and its equivalents show that the origin of the sand likely came from across the entire continent–from eastern North America! This demonstrates that a massive amount of sand was eroded and transported across the country and deposited as a “blanket” over a large portion of the west. Paleocurrent data also supports this; consistent currents over such a big area favor a marine deposition model. 

Cross-bedded sandstone of the Coconino Formation in the Grand Canyon.
Image Credit: cogdogblog –, CC0,

Additionally, other data collected from these sandstones strongly indicate subaqueous deposition. Cross-beds found in Coconino and its equivalents average an angle of about 20°, while in modern deserts the average is a much steeper 34°. The gentle slopes indicate that these sand waves formed underwater. Interestingly, other data at the microscopic level also point to marine deposition. In a modern sand dune, sand grains are typically well sorted and well rounded due to wind, and only more resistant minerals such as quartz remain. In the Coconino, though, the grains are poorly sorted (having various sizes) and sub-rounded to sub-angular. And even soft minerals such as micas have been found! Micas like muscovite and biotite rarely last in wind-blown settings, and so it is significant that they have been found in the Coconino and other Permian sandstones.

These findings, along with other collected data and studies, have led Whitmore and others to conclude that these sandstones are not only correlated as one diachronous body, but that they have been deposited in a marine environment. This is consistent within a Flood model; the Coconino was likely laid down as Flood waters surged over the supercontinent of Pangea. 

Further Reading:

The views expressed in this article reflect those of the author(s) mentioned and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.

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April 28, 2021 3:54 PM

The Coconino is interesting as the evos assumed it was laid down above water, yet the angle of deposition is consistent with water deposition, the real clincher are the footprints which were preserved in the sand, incredibly difficult to preserve dry, but easily understood if done wet, and then buried.

April 29, 2021 6:16 AM

Cool reading. !

April 29, 2021 10:09 PM

In all the discussion about Evolution vs Creation, one thing stands above all else: – TIME If we can understand Time, then we will understand that the Creator set Time in motion. If that same Creator created Time, then all our arguments, based upon Time, are futile. It makes total logical sense to surrender all our conception of Time itself and accept in faith that the Creator established a moderately short space of time to establish the Cosmos.
The question then is; Why did He choose a period of 6 days and not 6 nano-secs to create the Cosmos and save almost 6 days (of time)? Answer: He doesn’t need to save time, as He is outside of it and unaffected by it. Conclusion: He made Time for man, not man for Time.

Ingvar Åberge
Ingvar Åberge
July 11, 2021 3:07 AM
Reply to  Lightupyrday

I’m not 100% sure where you are pointing, but if I understand you right, you could be into some of the same things that I have been thinking of. What is called apparent age theory. That the earth was created 6000 years ago, 4,5 billion years old.

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