SC-RA-A-A-TCH! Skeep. Skri-i-itch. Those sounds filled the classrooms when I was growing up in Australia, as teachers wrote with sticks of chalk on the chalkboards that lined the front of every classroom. It’s been a long time since teachers have regularly used those tools, but chalk has made a big comeback among craft-lovers, thanks to the spray paint that can turn any surface into a chalkboard.
When I was a boy, cringing at the occasional chalk squeak, I never realized these small white sticks actually came from a thick layer of rock made up of microscopic fossils.
That’s what chalk is: a soft, pure, fine-textured limestone that has a marine origin and is usually white. It consists primarily (90–99%) of the mineral calcite, formed mainly by the shells of floating microorganisms, set in a very fine matrix.
I learned that fact years later in my university geology class, where I was also taught about the famous White Cliffs of Dover along the coast of southern England. These cliffs are actually beds of chalk 350 feet (110 m) high. What a thrill it was when I later stood on the seashore looking up at these tall white cliffs!
The thrill was marred by one thought: university geology classes teach that these beds of chalk required millions of years to be deposited, as very tiny shells slowly sank and settled on the seafloor and mixed with lime to form an ooze.
Because of chalk bedsʼ fine-grained consistency and voluminous tiny fossil shells, evolutionary geologists have sought to explain their formation based on the limey ooze on today’s ocean floor. This ooze is widespread at depths shallower than 14,775 feet (4500 m). Evolutionary geologists claim that the ooze has accumulated one grain at a time, at a rate of between 0.008 and 0.08 inches (0.2–2 mm) per year.2 The ooze consists almost entirely of the tiny shells of single-celled creatures, because fish and other large creatures get eaten or decay before they even reach the seafloor.
So it would take 100,000 to 1 million years to accumulate the 650-foot (200 m) thickness needed for the homogenous ooze to be converted into chalk. Evolutionists claim the process of depositing chalk lasted for 40 million years.3 That’s the interpretation I heard in my university class, too.
However, since I’m a Christian who believes that God’s Word provides the true account of the earth’s history, and I don’t believe the earth is millions of years old, how could I respond?
Let’s do some digging to resolve this apparent enigma of the chalk beds.