■ David Whyte
TWO MINUTES after midnight on 14 November 2016, the upper South Island of New Zealand experienced a 7.8-magnitude
earthquake—the second strongest in NZ
since Europeans arrived.1
There were a number of faults that
ruptured, moving the north-eastern tip
of the South Island closer to the North
Island by 2 m ( 6. 5 ft); one fault moved 10
m ( 32 ft) sideways. The event is named
the Kaikoura earthquake, after the town
(pop. 2,080) very near to one of the faults.
The quake caused an estimated
80,000 to 100,000 landslips.
2 A number
of large slips blocked rivers in the region.
In the months since, these slips have
been eroded by the rivers flowing over
and through them.
These newly created landforms
have amazed those who believe that
such things take eons to form. One
“In the space of four months, a
gorge that looks like it has been there
for thousands of years has been gouged
from the soft limestone of the Clarence
River. Rivers are always changing, but
the speed of the transformation wrought
by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake last
November has amazed those working
on the water.”
A rafting company operator is quoted
in the same article as saying:
“See this gorge, it looks like it could
have been here for thousands of years …
But it was created in four months—the
earthquake brought the entire slab of
limestone up out of the ground and the
river cut through it just like a saw.”
Of course, age has no appearance.
The earth’s features neither ‘look old’
nor ‘look young’ in themselves; such
concepts are imposed on the evidence
we see depending on the ‘filters’ of
assumptions through which we interpret
For those who, due to the conditioning
of our culture, believe that millions of
years are involved in such major land-
form changes, the speed of this change
seems extraordinary. For those, however,
who understand that landform changes
can occur suddenly and quickly, as Flood
geological researchers have highlighted
time and time again, this comes as no
surprise. The global Flood as described
in Genesis would have been accompa-
nied by almost unimaginable hydraulic
and tectonic forces and upheavals.
Someone coming to this geological formation unaware of what had
happened, and with the wrong assumptions, would gain an erroneous impression of its age.
References and notes
1. Normile, D., New Zealand earthquake
2. Landslides and Landslide dams caused by
the Kaikoura Earthquake,
3. Lewis, O., Clarence River Rafting makes
most of post-earthquake changes to
Clarence River, stuff.co.nz, February 2017.
4. See Wieland, C., The earth: how old does it
23(1): 8–13, 2000; creation.
Gorge ‘looks thousands of years old’,
but created in months
DAVID WH YTE, B. Sc., M. Sc. (tech.) (1st class)
trained in applied physics at Waikato University,
N.Z. He has patents and papers on mastitis
and farm analysis of milk. He has worked
with optoelectronics, visible to near-infrared
spectroscopy, fluidics and viscosity measurement,
animal physiology, and biochemistry. For more:
Kayaking through the newly
formed gorge, courtesy of
Clarence River Rafting.