Letter from John Baumgardner
Regarding the claims of Ron Wyatt
From: John Baumgardner
Date: Thursday, September 26, 1996 7:13 PM
September 26, 1996
You recently requested that I formulate a statement that summarizes my conclusions regarding the boat-shaped formation located about 15 miles south of Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey which Ron Wyatt and David Fasold maintain represent the final resting place of Noah's Ark. Let me first reproduce a statement I provided for the CRSnet of the Creation Research Society about a year ago in response to a similar request:
Regarding my position on the Durupinar site, the core drilling we performed in 1988 settled the issue as far as I am concerned--the site is a natural formation, nothing more, produced by a mud slide as mud flowed around a ridge-shaped block of basement rock that is still present inside the resulting boat-shaped form. My position on the many other claims and questions is accurately represented in the article in the September 1992 issue of Creation Magazine, Volume 14, Number 4, entitled 'Amazing Ark Expose' by Dr. Andrew Snelling that critiqued assertions by Ron Wyatt, David Fasold, and others that the site indeed contained remains of the Ark. I refer people on the CRSnet who are interested in the controversy to this article. The footage of me in the video that has been shown several times on U.S. and British television during the last three years reflects my early enthusiasm about the possibility of a connection of the site with Noah's Ark, but it does not accurately represent my very firm conclusions reached after the extensive geophysical investigations we conducted at the site in 1987 and 1988. I realize this answer is brief, but I hope it is clear I am convinced the remains of the Ark must be somewhere else, that such remains are emphatically _not_ associated with this boat-shaped formation. The central claims Wyatt and Fasold have been making about the site are bogus.
Let me next reproduce some email I sent to Mr. Jim Pinkoski last May at your request. Mr. Pinkoski operates the 'Museum of God's Treasures' at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which features the claimed discoveries of Ron Wyatt.
Gary Amirault called me this morning and mentioned the email exchange he has been having with you concerning the character and veracity of Ron Wyatt. He mentioned your remark that the reason I did not support Ron's position that the boat-shaped site did indeed contain the remains of Noah's ark was concern for my job. Gary suggested I contact you directly and set the record straight on this point. My reasons for concluding the site has nothing to do with the ark are based on the geophysical surveys my team performed in 1987 together with the core drilling we performed in 1988 which revealed a massive ridge of inside the site and aligned with the site's long axis. This ridge actually outcrops at the surface over about 40% of the length of the site. The ridge accounts for the stability of the site relative to the surrounding terrain as well as for its distinctive boatlike shape. The rock material that comprises the ridge matches that in nearby outcrops, especially that in the roadcut above the visitor's center. Furthermore, the material Ron claims is petrified wood is nothing but igneous rock of basaltic composition. We have analyzed many samples of it here at our laboratory, and Ron is aware of these analyses.
Ron's assertion that I take the position I do because I am afraid I will lose my job is a falsehood. I am very bold in my creationist convictions here. For example, in February I presented a public lecture entitled "Exposing Evolution as Intellectual Fraud" in our community center. This has since been aired several times on our local cable television station.
I just wanted to make you aware of some of these matters. I could share much more on a variety of claims that Ron continues to make. I encourage you not just to take Ron's word that his claims are honest and true but to make some independent checks yourself.
Mr. Pinkoski shortly thereafter forwarded my email to a friend of his, Joel Davenport, who lives in Graysville, Georgia. Mr. Davenport then sent me a list of questions, which I answered as follows:
Let me try to give you some quick answers to your most reasonable questions.
1. Did you witness evidence of the metal rivets in this "igneous rock?"
I have seen pictures of these rivets and wonder, based on what you state above, if they're from another site or from that location. Do you have any comments on that?
--I am almost 100% certain that Ron 'planted' them.
2. As a layman, it sure looks like petrified wood that he found (and I've seen a sample of it in Nashville). Is it your contention that Ron Wyatt fabricated this evidence or that he brought it from another location?
--Yes. I have spent weeks at this site and never once saw any sample that even remotely resembled petrified wood.
3. Are the "beams" (or "rib timbers") which I have seen in the video and on pictures not actual formations there at the site?
--The dark, weather-resistant rocks are genuine parts of the formation. They are of igneous composition. Calling them "beams" or "rib timbers" is something that comes from (Wyatt's) human imagination.
4. Do you believe that the object at that site, which you yourself have tested, is a natural phenomenom, or is it man-made? (I ask you this as an expert in your field.)
--it is the natural product of a geological process (a catastrophic mud slide)
And if so, were there not metal rivets throughout the object?
5. Were you misquoted or misrepresented in David Fasold's book which quoted you as testing the brackets and finding them at regular intervals throughout the formation?
--One sample we collected in June of 1985 was mostly iron oxide. But this was the only sample of this kind ever found there. And there was nothing about it to argue that it was not natural, especially given the fact that the underlying rock formation is a strip of igenous seafloor.
6. Was the article in that Fasold quotes in his book just a fabrication of David Fasold, or did you really "using a metal detector, Baumgardner has been able to confirm the existence of metal at regular intervals. Baumgardner says he believes that metal is at the points where these lines intersect, giving rise to the speculation metal was used in the infrastructure of this craft?"
--The method was a type of dowsing that David Fasold introduced and I naively copied. Upon discerning what it was, I forsook it.
Gary, I trust these excerpts of email from the last few months will give the visitors to your web site a better grasp of who is claiming what, regarding this boat-shaped formation. It should be evident that I, as a scientist with a Ph.D. in geophysics but also an earnest Christian, am absolutely convinced the site contains no remains of Noah's Ark. This conclusion was reached after eight trips to the area between 1985 and 1988 and two major geophysical investigations during the summers of 1987 and 1988 in collaboration with Dr. Salih Bayraktutan, a geologist, at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey. In the 1987 effort we surveyed the site with ground penetrating radar that involved 72 separate traverses spaced two meters apart. We also took 1200 magnetometer readings in a detailed magnetometer survey. In addition we made several traverses with an exploration seismograph. In the 1988 effort we drilled four core holes and performed additional seismograph scans. It was the results of the core drilling that revealed, with no room for debate, that a long ridge-shaped block of rock lies along the centerline of the site. Mud flowing around this obstacle is responsible for the almond, or boat-like shape. The dark colored boulders are pieces of the igneous seafloor rocks that happen to underlie the site. The glaring absence of human artifacts of the sort implied by the visitation of multitudes of pilgrims reported by historians like Josephus is a final forceful argument against this being the true resting place of the Ark.
Also from these excerpts it should be clear that I consider Wyatt's misrepresentation of my views as morally wrong and dishonest. But his deception of multitudes of Christians who have not had the opportunity to check his claims firsthand as I have is an even worse crime. I give you permission to use these words of mine to warn people of this snare.
Los Alamos, New Mexico