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Noah's Flood - the Geology

Updated on April 25, 2013

Ask anyone what was involved in Noah’s Flood and you will hear, it rained, forty days and forty nights. If they know their Bible they’ll even point out the passage, Genesis 7:4 and 7:12. They might miss v.11, “on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Noah’s Flood is not simply about rain, there are also “the fountains of the great deep”, which were great volcanic ruptures.

There are two sets of assumptions about Noah’s Flood. One is the uniformitarian set, that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that the flood described in the Bible, if it happened at all, could only have happened in the Quaternary Period (the current geologic period beginning about 2 million years ago). The other is the young earth set, the earth is only 7,000 years old and the sedimentary layers of the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic were laid down during the flood, with the Cenozoic being post-Flood.

Unless it is realized that these are two very different and incompatible sets of assumptions no sense can be made of Noah’s Flood. Within each set there is a logic, but not by combining them. I ascribe to the young earth explanation of Noah’s Flood, it was a real event brought about by God around the year 3500 B.C. (some young earthers prefer 2500 B.C.). How then do we explain the Flood?

The ultimate cause of the flood was God. Whether God used a physical force, such as the gravity of a large swarm of asteroids and comets to upset the tectonic stability of the earth, or merely used a direct miracle, I don’t know, and the matter is being debated among the young earth scientists. But once the flood starts all of the evidence and theory is consistent with modern scientific methodology.

The theory which I will summarize here is Catastrophic Plate Tectonics, as proposed by Dr. John Baumgardner and expounded by Dr. Andrew Snelling. As the name implies the theory uses the mechanisms of Plate Tectonics, but at a much accelerated rate.

Before the Flood there was a single continent and a single ocean. The Flood began with a rifting of the earth’s crust. This was followed by runaway subduction of the resulting plates. As these plates were sub-ducted they generated huge amounts of heat melting the surrounding rock and causing massive volcanic activity. This volcanic activity erupted not simply as volcanic mountains but whole volcanic rifts around the globe.

The volcanic activity occurring at the bottom of the oceans turned water into steam. This steam rose rapidly entraining water and carrying it into the atmosphere. As the steam lost energy the entrained water fell to the earth, it rained, the steam would eventually cool and condense and also fall. This is the origin of the forty days of rain.

The tectonic activity would also cause a lifting of the ocean floor. Plate subduction would cause the edge of the new continents to be lowered as the sea level was rising. This was the initial flooding. As the tectonic activity was on the level of metres per second there were also massive tsunamis being created. It is these tsunamis which carried large amounts of sediment onto the continents creating the various levels interpreted within the uniformitarian theory as the Geologic Column.

The fossils were laid down before the mountains were formed. The rising sea and the tsunamis carried the dead organisms and buried them in the sediments they left behind. Then as the continents (or plates) moved and mountains were formed, these sediments containing the entombed creatures were uplifted with the mountains.

The initial subduction may have lasted a period of 28 days with a period of 40 days necessary for the water and steam to lose sufficient energy to fall as rain. The combination of the formation of new ocean floor and rain water caused the flood to rise for a total of 150 days, sometimes referred to as the inundatory stage. This is the period when fossil tracks were made as animal sought to escape the rising waters of the flood. After 150 days the flood waters started to recede. Geologic mechanisms as we know them were taking over.

The waters of the flood were warm and it took some time for them to cool. The large amounts of volcanic dust in the atmosphere caused a cooling effect. During this time there was massive evaporation with the warm moisture being carried to the poles for cooling. At the poles this moisture cooled and fell as snow, building up to form ice caps and the Ice Age. The Glacial Maximum would have been reached in about 500 years, the Ice Age being considered to have lasted about 700 years (to about 2800 B.C.). This would have lowered the oceans during this period allowing land bridges for animals to migrate to the newly formed continents. As the Ice Age ended the resulting melt would have caused flooding along the continental edges, possibly preserved in legend as the Flood of Gilgamesh (and also many other Flood legends, some of them amalgamating Noah’s Flood with the local floods).

To understand a literal Noah’s Flood it is necessary to understand that there exists a different set of assumptions than that put forward by Uniformitarian (Slow and Gradual) Theory. When the evidence is tested using this different set of assumptions it can be shown that a more complete explanation of current geology (and meteorology) is provided. A global flood does not work within Uniformitarian Theory, but within Catastrophic Plate Tectonics it works, and it explains the Ice Age (something which Uniformitarian Theory is still unable to do). The evidence for the two is the same, but by changing the logical framework within which that evidence is examined we reach different conclusions. My conclusion is that a global flood happened as described in the Bible.


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