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Eau Claire River's Big Falls

Written By: Travis Buhler  |  Posted: Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Creation Science is a movement of scientists and organizations that promote the hypothesis that the natural world can be explained best when one accounts for a recent creation and a destructive worldwide flood.  Many books and other mediums have been made that prove this, often using notable geological and scenic areas of the world; areas like the Grand Canyon, the underwater Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Mount St. Helens, the mountains and plateaus around the Himalayas, and other notable wonders.

                I find that there are scenic wonders right here in Wisconsin that show evidence of what many call Noah's Flood.  Just east of the City of Eau Claire, on the Eau Claire River, lays one such scenic wonder - Big Falls.

                The County owns the land and has done a great job of doing nothing to the land other than some trails leading you to the fifteen foot drop.  Because of the high amounts of sand, the area makes for a great wading area.  The water flows slowly enough both above and below the falls to allow children to play (under the close eye of Mom and Dad of course).  The rocks around the falls are fun to play and climb on as well.  Most of all, the waterfall and surrounding cascades make for a lovely picnic area for all to enjoy.

                One good thing the County didn't do to the property is leave signs explaining how it took millions of years to form what we see today.  I can therefore freely explain to my children how the destructive powers of God's judgment - the flood - caused such a beautiful sight only miles from our house.

                Most of the Eau Claire area is covered in sandstone.  One can see how extensive this blanket of sand is when one travels on the Hwy. 53 bypass from Altoona to Chippewa Falls.  Entire hills were carved away, hills made completely of sandstone, which can be easily noted when you drive through them.

                This layer of sandstone covers what most geologists think is a bumpy field of granite, basalt, gneiss, and other igneous and metamorphic rock.  This layer of rock can be seen at Big Falls and many other areas along the Eau Claire River.

                There are a number of options that explain how these rocks were formed.  It is said that when the flood began, the fountains of the great deep were opened.  Perhaps as the continental plates were driven apart, the original bedrock was warped, wrinkled, and twisted to form the great mountain ranges that we have today.  Here in Wisconsin, the disruption wasn't as great as the Rocky Mountains out west.

                Another theory is that the disruption of the flood caused cracks in the crust and lava poured through them and laid down pools of lava that were then hardened and then twisted and bent and broken apart.  The effects of this can be seen when one looks at the layers in the gneiss formations around Big Falls.  Though most of the stripes go from north to south, they are sometimes warped, sometimes thickened, and sometimes thinned, like when one pulls handmade taffy.

warped gneiss Eau Claire River Big Falls                It could likely be a combination of the above two theories.  All this could have happened from a combination of lava pools, earthquakes, rushing and cooling waves, and buckling of the bedrock beneath.

                After the trauma of the initial start of the flood, the waters settled down.  All of the sand and other particles started to settle down and formed layers.  The waters were likely dense with silicon which hardened the layers of sand in the Eau Claire area.  This can be seen in two ways.  As the gneiss that formed Big Falls cracked, silicon from either the water or the lava combined with oxygen to form bands of quartz that can be seen running contrary to the stripes of gneiss.

Quartz band Eau Claire River Big Falls                The silicon in the water also saturated the sand and other sediments as it settled, forming silica sand.  This form of sand is found in heavy quantities in west-central Wisconsin and is currently in high demand from natural gas and oil companies for its use in fracing, a process that uses the sand to extract oil or gas from deep inside the earth.

                As the particles in the flood waters settled, they formed a somewhat smooth blanket over the bumpy layer of rock.  You can imagine it being like someone laying down a layer of drywall mud over a bumpy wall with a trowel.  As the flood waters receded, instead of a chaotic lava field, a smooth plain was formed.

                This smoothness wasn't to last long.  Great waves of water flowed back and forth forming the coulees of southwestern Wisconsin.  At the same time, large glaciers and left over flood waters that didn't yet make it to the oceans formed small to giant lakes in various parts of the area.  As the water levels of these lakes increased, they started to overflow their banks.  The rushing waters broke the natural dams and formed the large gorges of the Mississippi, Chippewa, Black, Wisconsin, and other river valleys of today.  Great rain storms and 4,000 years of normal erosion formed the existing landscape of Wisconsin today.

                The Eau Claire River flows in one of these great gorges formed by the leftover flood and glacial waters.  This particular rush of water exposed part of the underlying granite and gneiss rocks that are underneath the whole area.  As you play around on the rocks, imagine yourself on top of a granite mountain, perhaps one that looks like Mt. Rushmore, except that the valleys are filled in with sandstone.

                People that believe that the earth is millions of years old oftentimes point to Wisconsin as a state full of evidence to prove their theory.  But it is noteworthy that even they admit that the much of the landscape was caused by cataclysmic events.  Their timeline involves giant lakes and oceans covering our state or giant continental glaciers scraping the landscape or large amounts of rushing waters as a result of these glaciers - all things that do not occur normally.

                A better theory in my opinion is to explain it all as caused by a worldwide flood.  It makes the most sense and it glorifies God as well.  Big Falls, and many other areas in Wisconsin, are great reminders of our Lord's glory and ever present eye looking over all of us.

                Travis Buhler is the Editor of the Eau Claire Journal.  Email:

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