Implications of a Global Flood

A global flood would have produce evidence contrary to the evidence we see.

How do you explain the relative ages of mountains? For example, why weren't the Sierra Nevadas eroded as much as the Appalachians during the Flood?

Why is there no evidence of a flood in ice core series? Ice cores from Greenland have been dated back more than 40,000 years by counting annual layers. [Johnsen et al, 1992; Alley et al, 1993] A worldwide flood would be expected to leave a layer of sediments, noticeable changes in salinity and oxygen isotope ratios, fractures from buoyancy and thermal stresses, a hiatus in trapped air bubbles, and probably other evidence. Why doesn't such evidence show up?

How are the polar ice caps even possible? Such a mass of water as the Flood would have provided sufficient buoyancy to float the polar caps off their beds and break them up. They wouldn't regrow quickly. In fact, the Greenland ice cap would not regrow under modern (last 10 ky) climatic conditions.

Why did the Flood not leave traces on the sea floors? A year long flood should be recognizable in sea bottom cores by (1) an uncharacteristic amount of terrestrial detritus, (2) different grain size distributions in the sediment, (3) a shift in oxygen isotope ratios (rain has a different isotopic composition from seawater), (4) a massive extinction, and (n) other characters. Why do none of these show up?

Why is there no evidence of a flood in tree ring dating? Tree ring records go back more than 10,000 years, with no evidence of a catastrophe during that time. [Becker & Kromer, 1993; Becker et al, 1991; Stuvier et al, 1986] 

The Flood and the Geological Record

Most people who believe in a global flood also believe that the flood was responsible for creating all fossil-bearing strata. (The alternative, that the strata were laid down slowly and thus represent a time sequence of several generations at least, would prove that some kind of evolutionary process occurred.) However, there is a great deal of contrary evidence.

Before you argue that fossil evidence was dated and interpreted to meet evolutionary assumptions, remember that the geological column and the relative dates therein were laid out by people who believed divine creation, before Darwin even formulated his theory. (See, for example, Moore [1973], or the closing pages of Dawson [1868].) 

Why are geological eras consistent worldwide? How do you explain worldwide agreement between "apparent" geological eras and several different (independent) radiometric and nonradiometric dating methods? [e.g., Short et al, 1991]

How was the fossil record sorted in an order convenient for evolution? Ecological zonation, hydrodynamic sorting, and differential escape fail to explain:

  • the extremely good sorting observed. Why didn't at least one dinosaur make it to the high ground with the elephants? 
  • the relative positions of plants and other non-motile life. (Yun, 1989, describes beautifully preserved algae from Late Precambrian sediments. Why don't any modern-looking plants appear that low in the geological column?) 
  • why some groups of organisms, such as mollusks, are found in many geologic strata. 
  • why organisms (such as brachiopods) which are very similar hydrodynamically (all nearly the same size, shape, and weight) are still perfectly sorted. 
  • why extinct animals which lived in the same niches as present animals didn't survive as well. Why did no pterodons make it to high ground? 
  • how coral reefs hundreds of feet thick and miles long were preserved intact with other fossils below them. 
  • why small organisms dominate the lower strata, whereas fluid mechanics says they would sink slower and thus end up in upper strata. 
  • why artifacts such as footprints and burrows are also sorted. [Crimes & Droser, 1992] 
  • why no human artifacts are found except in the very uppermost strata. If, at the time of the Flood, the earth was overpopulated by people with technology for shipbuilding, why were none of their tools or buildings mixed with trilobite or dinosaur fossils? 
  • why different parts of the same organisms are sorted together. Pollen and spores are found in association with the trunks, leaves, branches, and roots produced by the same plants [Stewart, 1983]. 
  • why ecological information is consistent within but not between layers. Fossil pollen is one of the more important indicators of different levels of strata. Each plant has different and distinct pollen, and, by telling which plants produced the fossil pollen, it is easy to see what the climate was like in different strata. Was the pollen hydraulically sorted by the flood water so that the climatic evidence is different for each layer?
How do surface features appear far from the surface? Deep in the geologic column there are formations which could have originated only on the surface, such as:
  • Rain drops. [Robb, 1992]
  • River channels. [Miall, 1996, especially chpt. 6]
  • Wind-blown dunes. [Kocurek & Dott, 1981; Clemmenson & Abrahamsen, 1983; Hubert & Mertz, 1984]
  • Beaches.
  • Glacial deposits. [Eyles & Miall, 1984]
  • Burrows. [Crimes & Droser, 1992; Thackray, 1994]
  • In-place trees. [Cristie & McMillan, 1991]
  • Soil. [Reinhardt & Sigleo, 1989; Wright, 1986, 1994]
  • Desiccation cracks. [Andrews, 1988; Robb, 1992]
  • Footprints. [Gore, 1993, has a photograph (p. 16-17) showing dinosaur footprints in one layer with water ripples in layers above and below it. Gilette & Lockley, 1989, have several more examples, including dinosaur footprints on top of a coal seam (p. 361-366).]
  • Meteorites and meteor craters. [Grieve, 1997; Schmitz et al, 1997]
  • Coral reefs. [Wilson, 1975]
  • Cave systems. [James & Choquette, 1988]
How could these have appeared in the midst of a catastrophic flood?

How does a global flood explain angular unconformities? These are where one set of layers of sediments have been extensively modified (e.g., tilted) and eroded before a second set of layers were deposited on top. They thus seem to require at least two periods of deposition (more, where there is more than one unconformity) with long periods of time in between to account for the deformation, erosion, and weathering observed.

How were mountains and valleys formed? Many very tall mountains are composed of sedimentary rocks. (The summit of Everest is composed of deep-marine limestone, with fossils of ocean-bottom dwelling crinoids [Gansser, 1964].) If these were formed during the Flood, how did they reach their present height, and when were the valleys between them eroded away? Keep in mind that many valleys were clearly carved by glacial erosion, which is a slow process.

When did granite batholiths form? Some of these are intruded into older sediments and have younger sediments on their eroded top surfaces. It takes a long time for magma to cool into granite, nor does granite erode very quickly. [For example, see Donohoe & Grantham, 1989, for locations of contact between the South Mountain Batholith and the Meugma Group of sediments, as well as some angular unconformities.]

How can a single flood be responsible for such extensively detailed layering? One formation in New Jersey is six kilometers thick. If we grant 400 days for this to settle, and ignore possible compaction since the Flood, we still have 15 meters of sediment settling per day. And yet despite this, the chemical properties of the rock are neatly layered, with great changes (e.g.) in percent carbonate occurring within a few centimeters in the vertical direction. How does such a neat sorting process occur in the violent context of a universal flood dropping 15 meters of sediment per day? How can you explain a thin layer of high carbonate sediment being deposited over an area of ten thousand square kilometers for some thirty minutes, followed by thirty minutes of low carbonate deposition, etc.? [Zimmer, 1992]

How do you explain the formation of varves? The Green River formation in Wyoming contains 20,000,000 annual layers, or varves, identical to those being laid down today in certain lakes. The sediments are so fine that each layer would have required over a month to settle.

How could a flood deposit layered fossil forests? Stratigraphic sections showing a dozen or more mature forests layered atop each other--all with upright trunks, in-place roots, and well-developed soil--appear in many locations. One example, the Joggins section along the Bay of Fundy, shows a continuous section 2750 meters thick (along a 48-km sea cliff) with multiple in-place forests, some separated by hundreds of feet of strata, some even showing evidence of forest fires. [Ferguson, 1988. For other examples, see Dawson, 1868; Cristie & McMillan, 1991; Gastaldo, 1990; Yuretich, 1994.] Creationists point to logs sinking in a lake below Mt. St. Helens as an example of how a flood can deposit vertical trunks, but deposition by flood fails to explain the roots, the soil, the layering, and other features found in such places.

Where did all the heat go? If the geologic record was deposited in a year, then the events it records must also have occurred within a year. Some of these events release significant amounts of heat.

  • Magma. The geologic record includes roughly 8 x 1024 grams of lava flows and igneous intrusions. Assuming (conservatively) a specific heat of 0.15, this magma would release 5.4 x 1027 joules while cooling 1100 degrees C. In addition, the heat of crystallization as the magma solidifies would release a great deal more heat.
  • Limestone formation. There are roughly 5 x 1023 grams of limestone in the earth's sediments [Poldervaart, 1955], and the formation of calcite releases about 11,290 joules/gram [Weast, 1974, p. D63]. If only 10% of the limestone were formed during the Flood, the 5.6 x 1026 joules of heat released would be enough to boil the flood waters.
  • Meteorite impacts. Erosion and crustal movements have erased an unknown number of impact craters on earth, but Creationists Whitcomb and DeYoung suggest that cratering to the extent seen on the Moon and Mercury occurred on earth during the year of Noah's Flood. The heat from just one of the largest lunar impacts released an estimated 3 x 1026 joules; the same sized object falling to earth would release even more energy. [Fezer, pp. 45-46]
  • Other. Other possibly significant heat sources are radioactive decay (some Creationists claim that radioactive decay rates were much higher during the Flood to account for consistently old radiometric dates); biological decay (think of the heat released in compost piles); and compression of sediments.
5.6 x 1026 joules is enough to heat the oceans to boiling. 3.7 x 1027 joules will vaporize them completely. Since steam and air have a lower heat capacity than water, the steam released will quickly raise the temperature of the atmosphere over 1000 C. At these temperatures, much of the atmosphere would boil off the Earth.

Aside from losing its atmosphere, Earth can only get rid of heat by radiating it to space, and it can't radiate significantly more heat than it gets from the sun unless it is a great deal hotter than it is now. (It is very nearly at thermal equilibrium now.) If there weren't many millions of years to radiate the heat from the above processes, the earth would still be unlivably hot.

As shown in section 5, all the mechanisms proposed for causing the Flood already provide more than enough energy to vaporize it as well. These additional factors only make the heat problem worse.

How were limestone deposits formed? Much limestone is made of the skeletons of zillions of microscopic sea animals. Some deposits are thousands of meters thick. Were all those animals alive when the Flood started? If not, how do you explain the well-ordered sequence of fossils in the deposits? Roughly 1.5 x 1015 grams of calcium carbonate are deposited on the ocean floor each year. [Poldervaart, 1955] A deposition rate ten times as high for 5000 years before the Flood would still only account for less than 0.02% of limestone deposits.

How could a flood have deposited chalk? Chalk is largely made up of the bodies of plankton 700 to 1000 angstroms in diameter [Bignot, 1985]. Objects this small settle at a rate of .0000154 mm/sec. [Twenhofel, 1961] In a year of the Flood, they could have settled about half a meter.

How could the Flood deposit layers of solid salt? Such layers are sometimes meters in width, interbedded with sediments containing marine fossils. This apparently occurs when a body of salt water has its fresh-water intake cut off, and then evaporates. These layers can occur more or less at random times in the geological history, and have characteristic fossils on either side. Therefore, if the fossils were themselves laid down during a catastrophic flood, there are, it seems, only two choices:
(1) the salt layers were themselves laid down at the same time, during the heavy rains that began the flooding, or
(2) the salt is a later intrusion. I suspect that both will prove insuperable difficulties for a theory of flood deposition of the geologic column and its fossils. [Jackson et al, 1990]

How were sedimentary deposits recrystallized and plastically deformed in the short time since the Flood? The stretched pebble conglomerate in Death Valley National Monument (Wildrose Canyon Rd., 15 mi. south of Hwy. 190), for example, contains streambed pebbles metamorphosed to quartzite and stretched to 3 or more times their original length. Plastically deformed stone is also common around salt diapirs [Jackson et al, 1990].

How were hematite layers laid down? Standard theory is that they were laid down before Earth's atmosphere contained much oxygen. In an oxygen-rich regime, they would almost certainly be impossible.

How do you explain fossil mineralization? Mineralization is the replacement of the original material with a different mineral.

  • Buried skeletal remains of modern fauna are negligibly mineralized, including some that biblical archaeology says are quite old - a substantial fraction of the age of the earth in this diluvian geology. For example, remains of Egyptian commoners buried near the time of Moses aren't extensively mineralized.
  • Buried skeletal remains of extinct mammalian fauna show quite variable mineralization.
  • Dinosaur remains are often extensively mineralized.
  • Trilobite remains are usually mineralized - and in different sites, fossils of the same species are composed of different materials.
How are these observations explained by a sorted deposition of remains in a single episode of global flooding?

How does a flood explain the accuracy of "coral clocks"? The moon is slowly sapping the earth's rotational energy. The earth should have rotated more quickly in the distant past, meaning that a day would have been less than 24 hours, and there would have been more days per year. Corals can be dated by the number of "daily" growth layers per "annual" growth layer. Devonian corals, for example, show nearly 400 days per year. There is an exceedingly strong correlation between the "supposed age" of a wide range of fossils (corals, stromatolites, and a few others -- collected from geologic formations throughout the column and from locations all over the world) and the number of days per year that their growth pattern shows. The agreement between these clocks, and radiometric dating, and the theory of superposition is a little hard to explain away as the result of a number of unlucky coincidences in a 300-day-long flood. [Rosenberg & Runcorn, 1975; Scrutton, 1965; Wells, 1963]

Where were all the fossilized animals when they were alive? Schadewald [1982] writes:

"Scientific creationists interpret the fossils found in the earth's rocks as the remains of animals that perished in the Noachian Deluge. Ironically, they often cite the sheer number of fossils in 'fossil graveyards' as evidence for the Flood. In particular, creationists seem enamored by the Karroo Formation in Africa, which is estimated to contain the remains of 800 billion vertebrate animals (see Whitcomb and Morris, p. 160; Gish, p. 61). As pseudoscientists, creationists dare not test this major hypothesis that all of the fossilized animals died in the Flood.



"Robert E. Sloan, a paleontologist at the University of Minnesota, has studied the Karroo Formation. He asserts that the animals fossilized there range from the size of a small lizard to the size of a cow, with the average animal perhaps the size of a fox. A minute's work with a calculator shows that, if the 800 billion animals in the Karoo formation could be resurrected, there would be twenty-one of them for every acre of land on earth. Suppose we assume (conservatively, I think) that the Karroo Formation contains 1 percent of the vertebrate [land] fossils on earth. Then when the Flood began, there must have been at least 2100 living animals per acre, ranging from tiny shrews to immense dinosaurs. To a noncreationist mind, that seems a bit crowded."

A thousand kilometers' length of arctic coastal plain, according to experts in Leningrad, contains about 500,000 tons of tusks. Even assuming that the entire population was preserved, you seem to be saying that Russia had wall-to-wall mammoths before this "event."

Even if there was room physically for all the large animals which now exist only as fossils, how could they have all coexisted in a stable ecology before the Flood? Montana alone would have had to support a diversity of herbivores orders of magnitude larger than anything now observed.

Where did all the organic material in the fossil record come from? There are 1.16 x 1013 metric tons of coal reserves, and at least 100 times that much unrecoverable organic matter in sediments. A typical forest, even if it covered the entire earth, would supply only 1.9 x 1013 metric tons. [Ricklefs, 1993, p. 149]

How do you explain the relative commonness of aquatic fossils? A flood would have washed over everything equally, so terrestrial organisms should be roughly as abundant as aquatic ones (or more abundant, since Creationists hypothesize greater land area before the Flood) in the fossil record. Yet shallow marine environments account for by far the most fossils. 


Alley, R. B., D. A. Meese, C. A. Shuman, A. J. Gow, K.C. Taylor, P. M. Grootes, J. W. C. White, M. Ram, E. W. Waddington, P. A. Mayewski, & G. A. Zielinski, 1993. Abrupt increase in Greenland snow accumulation at the end of the Younger Dryas event. Nature 362: 527-529.

Andrews, J. E., 1988. Soil-zone microfabrics in calcrete and in desiccation cracks from the Upper Jurassic Purbeck Formation of Dorset. Geological Journal 23(3): 261-270.

Becker, B. & Kromer, B., 1993. The continental tree-ring record - absolute chronology, C-14 calibration and climatic-change at 11 KA. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 103 (1-2): 67-71.

Becker, B., Kromer, B. & Trimborn, P., 1991. A stable-isotope tree-ring timescale of the late glacial Holocene boundary. Nature 353 (6345): 647-649.

Bignot, G., 1985. Micropaleontology Boston: IHRDC, p. 75.

Clemmenson, L.B. and Abrahamsen, K., 1983. Aeolian stratification in desert sediments, Arran basin (Permian), Scotland. Sedimentology 30: 311-339.

Crimes, Peter, and Mary L Droser, 1992. Trace fossils and bioturbation: the other fossil record. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 23: 339-360.

Cristie, R.L., and McMillan, N.J. (eds.), 1991. Tertiary fossil forests of the Geodetic Hills, Axel Heiberg Island, Arctic Archipelago, Geological Survey of Canada, Bulletin 403., 227pp.

Dawson, J.W., 1868. Acadian Geology. The Geological Structure, Organic Remains, and Mineral Resources of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, 2nd edition. MacMillan and Co.: London, 694pp.

Donohoe, H.V. Jr. and Grantham, R.G. (eds.), 1989. Geological Highway Map of Nova Scotia, 2nd edition. Atlantic Geoscience Society, Halifax, Nova Scotia. AGS Special Publication no. 1, 1:640 000.

Eyles, N. and Miall, A.D., 1984, Glacial Facies. IN: Walker, R.G., Facies Models, 2nd edition. Geoscience Canada, Reprint Series 1: 15-38.

Ferguson, Laing, 1988. The fossil cliffs of Joggins. Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Fezer, Karl D., 1993. "Creationism: Please Don't Call It Science" Creation/Evolution, 13:1 (Summer 1993), 45-49.

Gansser, A., 1964. Geology of the Himalayas, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd., New York.

Gastaldo, R. A., 1990, Early Pennsylvanian swamp forests in the Mary Lee coal zone, Warrior Basin, Alabama. in R. A. Gastaldo et. al., Carboniferous Coastal Environments and Paleocommunities of the Mary Lee Coal Zone, Marion and Walker Counties, Alabama. Guidebook for the Field Trip VI, Alabama Geological Survey, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. pp. 41-54.

Gilette, D.D. and Lockley, M.G. (eds.), 1989. Dinosaur Tracks and Traces, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 454pp.

Gore, Rick, 1993. Dinosaurs. National Geographic, 183(1) (Jan. 1993): 2-54.

Grieve, R. A. F., 1997. Extraterrestrial impact events: the record in the rocks and the stratigraphic record. Palaeogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 132: 5-23.

Hubert, J.F., and Mertz, K.A., Jr., 1984. Eolian sandstones in Upper Triassic-Lower Jurassic red beds of the Fundy Basin, Nova Scotia. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 54: 798-810.

Jackson, M.P.A., et al., 1990. Salt diapirs of the Great Kavir, Central Iran. Geological Society of America, Memoir 177, 139pp.

James, N. P. & P. W. Choquette (eds.), 1988. Paleokarst, Springer-Verlag, New York.

Johnsen, S. J., H. B. Clausen, W. Dansgaard, K. Fuhrer, N. Gundestrap, C. U. Hammer, P. Iversen, J. Jouzel, B. Stauffer, & J. P. Steffensen, 1992. Irregular glacial interstadials recorded in a new Greenland ice core. Nature 359: 311-313.

Kocurek, G., and Dott, R.H., 1981. Distinctions and uses of stratification types in the interpretation of eolian sand. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 51(2): 579-595.

Miall, A. D., 1996. The Geology of Fluvial Deposits, Springer-Verlag, New York.

Moore, James R., 1973. "Charles Lyell and the Noachian Deluge", in Dundes, 1988, The Flood Myth, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Newell, N., 1982. Creation and Evolution, Columbia U. Press, p. 62.

Poldervaart, Arie, 1955. Chemistry of the earth's crust. pp. 119-144 In: Poldervaart, A., ed., Crust of the Earth, Geological Society of America Special Paper 62, Waverly Press, MD.

Reinhardt, J., and Sigleo, W.R. (eds.), 1989. Paleosols and weathering through geologic time: principles and applications. Geological Society of America Special Paper 216, 181pp.

Ricklefs, Robert, 1993. The Economy of Nature, W. H. Freeman, New York.

Robb, A. J. III, 1992. Rain-impact microtopography (RIM); an experimental analogue for fossil examples from the Maroon Formation, Colorado. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 62(3): 530-535.

Rosenberg, G. D. & Runcorn, S. K. (Eds), 1975. Growth rhythms and the history of the earth's rotation. Willey Interscience, New York.

Schadewald, Robert, 1982. Six 'Flood' arguments Creationists can't answer. Creation/Evolution 9: 12-17.

Schmitz, B., B. Peucker-Ehrenbrink, M. Lindstrom, & M. Tassinari, 1997. Accretion rates of meteorites and cosmic dust in the Early Ordovician. Science 278: 88-90.

Scrutton, C. T., ( 1964 ) 1965. Periodicity in Devonian coral growth. Palaeontology, 7(4): 552-558, Plates 86-87.

Short, D. A., J. G. Mengel, T. J. Crowley, W. T. Hyde and G. R. North, 1991. Filtering of Milankovitch Cycles by Earth's Geography. Quaternary Research. 35, 157-173. (Re an independent method of dating the Green River formation)

Stewart, W.N., 1983. Paleontology and the Evolution of Plants. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 405pp.

Stuiver, Minze, et al, 1986. Radiocarbon age calibration back to 13,300 years BP and the 14 C age matching of the German Oak and US bristlecone pine chronologies. IN: Calibration issue / Stuiver, Minze, et al., Radiocarbon 28(2B): 969-979.

Thackray, G. D., 1994. Fossil nest of sweat bees (Halictinae) from a Miocene paleosol, Rusinga Island, western Kenya. Journal of Paleontology 68(4): 795-800.

Twenhofel, William H., 1961. Treatise on Sedimentation, Dover, p. 50-52.

Weast, Robert C., 1974. Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 55th edition, CRC Press, Cleveland, OH.

Wells, J. W., 1963. Coral growth and geochronometry. Nature 197: 948-950.

Whitcomb, J.C. Jr. & H.M. Morris, 1961. The Genesis Flood. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Philadelphia PA.

Wilson, J. L., 1975. Carbonate Facies in Geologic History. Springer-Verlag, New York.

Wright, V. P. (ed.), 1986. Paleosols: Their Recognition and Interpretation, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Wright, V. P., 1994. Paleosols in shallow marine sequences. Earth-Science Reviews, 37: 367-395. See also pp. 135-137.

Yun, Zhang, 1989. Multicellular thallophytes with differentiated tissues from Late Proterozoic phosphate rocks of South China. Lethaia 22: 113-132.

Yuretich, Richard F., 1984. Yellowstone fossil forests: New evidence for burial in place, Geology 12, 159-162. See also Fritz, W.J. & Yuretich, R.F., Comment and reply, Geology 20, 638-639.

Zimmer, Carl, 1992. Peeling the big blue banana. Discover 13(1): 46-47.