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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CD221:

An upper limit for the age of the oceans is obtained by dividing the amount of an element dissolved in the sea by the amount added each year by rivers. These calculations yield the following figures:
Element Years to Accumulate
sodium 260,000,000
magnesium 45,000,000
silicon 8,000
potassium 11,000,000
copper 50,000
gold 560,000
silver 2,100,000
mercury 42,000
lead 2,000
tin 100,000
nickel 18,000
uranium 500,000


Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 153-155.


  1. The numbers in the table are residence times, or the average time that a small amount of an element stays in the sea water before being removed. They are not times that it takes the element to accumulate, and individual atoms may stay much briefer or longer than those times. Elements in the ocean are in approximate equilibrium between sources adding them and mechanisms removing them.

    A detailed analysis of sodium, for example, shows that, within measurement error, the amount of sodium added matches the amount removed.

  2. Morris left aluminum off the list. It would show (according to Morris's reasoning) that the earth is only 100 years old.


Matson, Dave E., 1994. How good are those young-earth arguments?

Stassen, Chris, 1997. The age of the earth.


  1. Morton, Glenn R., 1996. Salt in the sea.

Further Reading:

Burton, J. D. and D. Wright, 1981. Sea water and its evolution. In: The Evolving Earth, ed. L. R. M. Cocks. London: British Museum, 89-101.
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created 2003-4-21, modified 2004-12-20