Three Flood Models

Three Flood Models

David A. Plaisted


I would like to present several flood models, beginning with a model of the flood and evolution that is easy to harmonize with the geologic column as it is commonly presented in textbooks. This model is not intended to prove or disprove creation or evolution, but rather to present a possible creationist view. In fact, I don't believe at the present state of knowledge that either creation or evolution can be proved, but believe that the evidence is more favorable to creation, and for religious reasons choose to believe in creation. It is often stated on that a flood could not account for the sorting of fossils into different layers that is seen in the geologic column. One of the main purposes of the models presented here is to show how one can have such different assortments of fossils in different sedimentary strata, as well as to comment on apparently old radiometric dates. The flood models presented here are only intended to be illustrative, and not necessarily to explain all aspects of the flood or all geological formations. For purposes of this discussion, we will not be concerned with the question of whether the geologic column is "real" or not, despite some problems with the geologic column that have been pointed out by creationists (such as many fossils out of the proper layers). A good general source for this discussion is the book Studies in Flood Geology by John Woodmorappe, which contains discussions of problems with the geologic column, problems with radiometric dating, and many examples of fossils appearing in the wrong geological layers, as well as explanations of many geological features that are often considered to be incompatible with a worldwide Biblical flood in recent history. This book may be ordered from here. Another excellent source that all readers should consult right away is Bernard E. Northrup's Creation Studies web site. This site contains a number of lengthy articles that present detailed explanations of the geological column in the context of a worldwide flood. This material is especially valuable because the author has himself seen many of the geological formations of which he speaks, and has an extensive knowledge of geology. Northrup also answers many of the objections to a worldwide flood that are commonly presented by evolutionists.

Our first proposed flood model assumes that there were multiple floods before the Noachian Flood. Each one laid down one strata of sediment or more. Possibly these were separated by several hundred years, or possibly there were clusters of them more closely spaced, separated by several hundred years. Each flood or cluster of floods could correspond to a geological period. Possibly these floods were more common before the Flood for some reason, and they might also have been intended as warnings to the antediluvian world. This scenario could explain the geologic column, with the different organisms in different layers being explained by ecological succession (that is, different organisms increasing in population at different times) rather than evolution. And in addition, there could have been some limited evolution. Traditional flood models have some trouble explaining why different organisms tend to be found in different layers of strata in a systematic way, although there are a number of mechanisms that have been proposed for this.

We can imagine, for example, that algae would have multiplied first in the ancient oceans, followed by plankton and worms and other small creatures, followed by larger fish that would eat them, and so on. These creatures would have existed from the beginning, but only multiplied when conditions became favorable. Thus the earliest layers of sediment would have mostly algae and plankton, the next layers would have small animals, and so on, these layers of sediment being deposited when different species were common. Thus what has the appearance of evolutionary succession could instead be ecological succession due to changing conditions. This model assumes that life was created in the beginning by an intelligent and powerful entity. Of course, some limited evolution would also have occurred.

This would explain the relative absence of erosion between the layers of sediment and the missing geological periods with little or no evidence of erosion in between. Missing geological periods would be explained by the periodic floods missing certain areas, or a change in ecological succession. Sequences out of order could be explained either by overthrusting or by the order of ecological succession varying in some places. This model is compatible with evidences of rapid deposition, such as fossils that cut through many layers of sediment. It is also compatible with the relative lack of transitional forms in the fossil record, the difficulties of abiogenesis (origin of life from non-life), and the Cambrian explosion, as well as the difficulty of imagining significant evolution by an accumulation of beneficial mutations.

There is another flood model which I will now present. In this model, most of the sediment (Cambrian through Mesozoic and probably beyond) was laid down in the Flood. For this, we note that according to Genesis, the flood waters rose higher and higher. This would seem to indicate that the continent or continents were sinking. As this occurred, the ocean waters would rise and inundate the land. Thus the primary direction of water flow would be towards the land, with the 40 days of rain possibly being of secondary importance. The rain would have motivated animals to seek shelter, so that insects might not have wandered far from their usual habitats. There would probably have been violent storms to lash the ocean waves to fury and sweep away life and soil in layers of sediment. However, note that this sediment would not move very far, as the rising flood waters would be moving inland and upwards while the sediment would be falling downwards and outwards. Thus one would expect a significant segregation of sediment types. This would also explain why most of the sediment is found on land and less on the ocean floor. In places, ocean currents could have deposited the sediments over hundreds of miles.

We can speculate also on what would have caused the continents to sink. It could be that cracks were opened in the crust of the earth, possibly by asteroid impacts, causing subterranean water and lava to pour into the ocean basins. This would have raised the sea-level, while causing the continents to sink to some extent due to the loss of supporting material. As this happened, the water table would have risen rapidly, causing great fountains of water to spurt high into the atmosphere, possibly resulting in the 40 days of rain. The continents would have continued their downward course past the point of equilibrium, as the flood waters covered the earth. Then, as the continents gradually rose to their proper position, the flood waters would have abated.

We can expand on this flood model by considering the formation of planets. Let us suppose that planets form by gravitational collapes from gases, either by natural or supernatural processes. It is known that water is abundant in the universe, so we can assume that this collapsing gas would contain appreciable water. The new planet would have cooled rapidly due to water outside the crust. The inside of the planet would cool more slowly. Thus the crust would tend to shrink, and put extra pressure on the material inside. Water inside the crust would rise to the top, being lighter than minerals. Thus there would be an accumulation of water under the crust, under pressure. When a crack opened in the crust, possibly due to asteroid impacts, this water would have been able to escape and cause the flood. In fact, this train of events almost seems inevitable and may have been part of the development process of many planets. For example, there appear to be evidences of a flood on Mars. As the water escaped, the continental mass would sink down and be covered with water. Most of the water would end up in the ocean basins, which would be heavier than before, in contrast to the continental mass, which would be lighter. Thus the ocean basins would tend to sink and the continents would tend to rise, resulting in the abating of the flood. As the continental mass rose, it would be highest in the middle and lowest near the oceans. This would result in stress that could fracture the continental mass and the crust near the middle. This would result in portions of the continent sliding away from each other, toward the oceans, and raising up the mountain chains. In addition, this crack could have penetrated deep enough in the crust to permit large quantities of lava to erupt and aid the process of separation of the continents.

To explain the different animals found in different layers, the segregation of land animals would be based on how far from the ocean they lived and how fast they fled from the rising flood waters. Dinosaurs and other (presumably) water-loving animals would be slower to flee, while mammals would avoid the water more. Birds would have been well able to escape the flood, but even they could have been beaten down by the storm. Some animals and man would have climbed to the highest levels and been carried away with the flood waters without any covering of sediment. Thus they would have decomposed without leaving any fossil traces. Especially man with his greater intelligence could have climbed to the top of the highest peaks. These factors can explain much of the geologic column. If the great forests were located near the oceans, they would have been buried soon in Carboniferous strata. Note that one does not need to invoke hydraulic sorting to obtain a separation of sediments in this model. In order to explain animal tracks in some sediments, we may assume that the land masses could have been rising and falling to some extent, giving some sediments time to dry out periodically. This also explains the finding of dinosaur nests in some places, as noted by others; such nests could have been built very quickly. They must have been buried rapidly, or else they would not have been preserved. A number of creationists believe that the Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments are post-Flood, and explain the animal tracks and dinosaur nests as post-Flood features.

The large sea creatures would have tended to avoid the violence of the storm and hide out in the ocean depths, but eventually as the water rose, many of them would have been swept ashore as well. So we would tend to see the small beach and shore life deposited early, but large fishes higher in the sediment. Thus there would be a segregation of sea creatures as well as of land creatures. We can also imagine that the oceans were much richer with life than they are today. For land life, the index fossils could have been animals that tended to live at varying distances from the shore. Note that the sediments would have been localized, so for fossil A to occur uniformly below B in the sediments, it is not necessary that all A individuals lived closer to the water than all B individuals, only that in each region A lived closer to the water than B.

The question is often raised as to why one does not find modern mammals together with the dinosaurs if creation is true. The answer is fairly obvious: no mammal in his right mind would want to live in the midst of earth-shaking dinosaurs. The squash factor would be too high. The dinosaurs probably lived near the water, so the mammals would have lived away from the large bodies of water at higher altitudes. Thus they would have been fossilized at higher levels, or not at all. Small mammals and other creatures that could hide in cracks of rocks and similar locations could have coexisted with the dinosaurs, however. The sudden disappearance of dinosaurs from the fossil record could result if their shoreline habitats had many small hills on which they would have climbed during the flood and soon drowned, along with most other inhabitants of their ecological systems. Animals living farther inland could have had higher mountains to climb and so may have persisted much longer in the sediments. The extinction of the dinosaurs could also be explained by some catastrophic event during the time the flood waters were rising, such as a great tidal wave or volcano eruptions.

Let me comment a little more about how there could be a segregation of water life in the different sediment layers. Suppose a continent sinks by 10 feet. Then sea water would move in over the land. Now if the continent suddenly sinks by 10 more feet, then the water above the land will also sink suddenly, leading to a sharp slope in the surface of the water and a wave moving toward the land on top of the existing sea water. Thus sea water from farther out will move in over the land. As this happens again and again, sea water from farther and farther out will move in over the land. The shock will probably stun much of the sea life and cause it to sink. The effect of this is that spatial distribution of organisms in the top layers of the sea water will be transformed into vertical distribution of organisms in the fossil record. So the sea creatures that lived closest to the land will be deposited in the lower geologic strata, while the sea creatures living farthest from the land will be deposited in the highest strata. Thus we have a segregation based not primarily on ability to escape but on habitat. We also note that the velocity of the water would be fairly high, to cover a sizeable continent in a month or two. It might have been as much as a hundred miles a day.

In addition, there could have been many lakes and even inland seas at various altitudes and distances from the ocean. The pre-Flood world must have been very beautiful, with many ponds and lakes at many different levels, all rich with life. As the water rose, flora and fauna from these inland bodies of water would have mixed in with the sediments of the layer being formed. Since one might reasonably expect that the climate and thus the flora and fauna of the inland bodies of water would vary with their altitude and distance from the ocean, we could expect to find a great variety of sea life at all levels of the geologic column, a different assortment at each level. This model differs from John Woodmorappe's TAB model in that the sorting of the geologic column is based on distance from the ocean and altitude, which is natural, rather than on an unexplained correlation between the flora and fauna of a crustal plate and its tendency to downwarp.

We now give an estimate of which geological strata were deposited in the flood and which were deposited later. The last major extinction was at the KT boundary, when the dinosaurs went extinct. After this time, the flora and fauna blend gradually into those seen today, and there seems to be a correspondence in geography with present life, as well. This seems difficult to explain if the Cenozoic (post-KT) sediments were deposited in the flood. However, the volume of Cenozoic sediment is so large that some explanation must be found. We recall that after the flood, the earth would have been covered with soft, most sediment that would erode very rapidly. So we can expect very rapid erosion in the years after the flood, depositing huge quantities of sediment. Such a situation should produce a rather confusing geological picture that may often be difficult to reconcile with a simple flood scenario, but may be easier to understand in terms of post-flood occurrences.

The different animals found in different Cenozoic layers may be explained in a post-Flood interpretation in terms of their rate of dispersal from the ark. Small animals would tend to spread and reproduce more rapidly, and thus would be found earlier in the Cenozoic strata. Larger animals with longer life spans would reproduce and spread more slowly, and would be found only later in the strata. Because of their tendency to gather at the tower of Babel, humans would be found only at the very top of the fossil record.

Now I present yet a third flood model, to explain the segregation of marine fossils. The various geologic layers have many marine fossils, but these tend to differ in the different layers. The third model concentrates on explaining this phenomenon. For this we can assume that during the first days of the flood, considerable sediment was entering the oceans and falling to the bottom. Perhaps this came by erosion of the land during the forty days and nights of rain. Perhaps the action of the waves stirred up a lot of sediment. Perhaps an asteroid impact threw a large quantity of dust into the atmostphere which came down with the rain as mud. It's interesting in this regard that the mammoths in Siberia are buried in frozen mud. The sediment could have accumulated at the rate of an inch per minute, which would be about a mile in 40 days. This could have continued to accumulate afterwards for some time, too.

Now, many creatures could have escaped the falling sediment with little trouble, but some smaller creatures could have been captured and buried by it. This would lead to a sorting of biological species in the sediments. Also, there could have been a decay of the food chain, from the bottom up. Perhaps the algae died first during the 40 days, and fell to the bottom. Then the plankton. Then the organisms that ate plankton. Then the larger fish that ate the smaller organisms, and so on. This would lead to more sorting of fossils. In addition, the gills of some organisms could have been clogged with silt, and this could have caused the sea creatures to die at different times and fall to the bottom, to be buried in the rising layer of sediment. Very small organisms could have had dramatic population increases and decreases during this time, and been concentrated differently in the different layers. Finally, there could have been some sorting due to the action of the water and the waves, based on the size and shapes of the organisms. It is also possible that massive tidal waves could have circled the globe, influencing the process. Note that the sediment could have fallen at uneven rates, and when much was present, more organisms could have died.

These are just three flood models, and a number of others could be presented. This is only intended to illustrate the kinds of scenarios that can be constructed, and by combining them, one obtains many more.

Previously on I presented a theory of "small evolution" compatible with the idea that evolution by mutations cannot proceed very far, and have given a model of population genetics to go along with it, as well as presenting laboratory tests of its validity. This explains the known facts about evolution, but does not require a common ancestor of all of life. Small evolution does not attempt to delineate the Biblical kinds, but rather to limit the biological processes that can contribute to evolution. The essential idea of small evolution is that many point mutations are invariably harmful, excepting those that have little or no effect, so that only a small amount of evolution can be due to point mutations. Other kinds of mutation such as copying and recombination essentially recombine or duplicate existing structure, but do not create new structure. This theory is consistent with the Cambrian explosion, the relative lack of transitional forms in the fossil record, and the difficulty of even the simplest cell arising by natural processes from nonliving matter.

Radiometric dating is often used to obtain millions of year dates for fossil-bearing strata, dates that are not consistent with a recent creation of life. However, many problems with radiometric dating have been pointed out by some creationists. For example, radiometric dates (including potassium-argon dates) are often much younger or much older than the accepted ages of the rock strata. Still, radiometric dates tend to be in the tens or hundreds of million year range. We can explain these old radiometric ages by assuming some other source of the daughter element. For example, it could be that the earth's core is producing a lot of argon, filtering up through the soil and making potassium-argon dates appear much too old. This would tend to make deeper sediments appear older, as the concentration of argon there would be greater. The same could also be true of other radiometric decay byproducts, making all of the dates appear too old that are based on byproducts that are gases. In fact, helium filtering up through the rock would tend to push the argon up as well. Argon is highly mobile in rock, and for this reason potassium-argon dates are considered to be less reliable than others. I also saw the statement made in an article that argon can easily enter and leave rocks. This would mean that there is not much ground for having confidence in potassium-argon dates. In addition, environmental argon could hinder the escape of argon from lava and have an additional effect if its partial pressure were sufficiently high. For a discussion of this and other issues related to radiometric dating, see Another brief discussion is found at Some too-old radiometric dates are explained by geologists as due to "excess argon," and this effect could be making many of the dates too old, even those traditionally accepted as correct. It is possible that many underwater volcanoes erupted during the flood, enriching the oceans with argon and other radiometric decay byproducts. These byproducts could have entered rocks laid down during the flood and caused their radiometric ages to be much too large.

Another very interesting mechanism that can affect potassium-argon dates is the unequal distribution of the daughter element in magma chambers. A discussion of this mechanism may be found in an article by Robert H. Brown at the Geoscience Research Institute site. One would expect the lighter argon to concentrate at the top of chambers in which molten rock is found. This would effectively increase the radiometric age of the magma near the top of the chamber and decrease its age lower down. During a volcanic eruption, the first lava to escape would come from the top of the chamber, and would therefore appear to have a very old radiometric age. Lava emerging later would appear much younger. As a result, lava found in deeper layers, having erupted earlier, would generally appear much older and lava found in higher layers, having erupted later, would appear much younger. This could account for the observed distribution of potassium-argon dates, even if the great sedimantary layers were laid down very recently.

A similar mechanism applies to all elements and isotopes. Lighter elements and lighter isotopes will tend to rise to the top of the magma chamber, and heavier elements and heavier isotopes will sink to the bottom. This is because the potential energy of the magma is minimized when the heavier elements are on the bottom and the lighter ones are at the top. This implies that lava emerging first will be enriched in the lighter elements and isotopes, and lava emerging later will be depleted in these lighter elements and isotopes. This can make the lava emerging earlier look older according to radiometric dating. Another mechanism suggested by Jon Covey has to do with the melting point of various substances. Elements that melt at a higher temperature will tend to solidify near the top of magma chambers, where the temperature is cooler. As they solidify and crystallize, their atoms move closer together, making them denser and causing them to fall lower down in the magma chamber. Thus elements with a high melting point will concentrate near the bottom of the magma chamber, while elements with a low melting point will concentrate near the top. Since lead has a much lower melting point than thorium or uranium, lava at the top will be enriched in lead and lava at the bottom will be relatively depleted. This will result in lava at the top having much older lead-uranium dates and lead-thorium dates than lava at the bottom. Thus lava found lower in the geologic column, having come from the top of the magma chamber, will tend to have older radiometric dates. The same argumentation may apply to rubidium-strontium radiometric dates and other radiometric dates as well.

In addition, lava emerging later will tend to be hotter, coming from deeper in the earth and through channels that have already been warmed up. This lava will take longer to cool down, giving more opportunity for enclosed argon to escape and leading to younger radiometric ages. This also bears on the appearance of the mid-Atlantic ridge. The old ages far from the ridge could simply be a reflection of the fact that magma higher up has more argon, and the young ages near the ridge would correspond to deeper magma having less argon. In fact, it is hard to see how the ages of rock near the ridge could be young at all, under the conventional scenario, since the pressure and cooling effect of the ocean water would tend to prevent the enclosed argon from escaping.

Igneous rocks laid down during the flood could also appear too old because their daughter decay element (such as argon) could not escape due to the pressure of water and overlaying layers of sediment. Higher rocks would have less pressure and so could appear younger due to increased escape of the daughter element. In addition, potassium is highly water soluble in its ionized form. The daughter element argon is also water soluble. Thus the amount of potassium and argon in a rock do not necessarily reflect the true age of the rock. Over millions (or even thousands) of years there would be the potential for significant changes in the dates due to these factors. If more potassium than argon was leached out of a rock, possibly during the Flood, the rock would appear older using potassium-argon radiometric dating. This can also apply to uranium-lead and rubidium-strontium dates, as uranium and rubidium are also highly water soluble in their ionized forms, but lead and strontium are much less so.

There are so many potential sources of problems for radiometric dates that one cannot have much confidence in them at all. Even isochrons are known by geologists to yield meaningless dates at times, even when the points all form a straight line as they must do to yield a date. Geologists often say that many different methods give approximately the same age. However, one should remember that certain kinds of rocks are considered less reliable for radiometric dating, and so their dates are excluded from this tally.

Carbon 14 dates are not necessarily reliable, either; they can also be too old due to changes in the atmosphere or in the amount of cosmic radiation reaching the earth. If the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has changed, then carbon 14 dates could be affected. It's interesting in this regard that some fossils that should give infinite Carbon 14 ages according to the accepted dating instead give ages in the 50,000 year range or less, according to several sources I saw. Such fossils have non-negligible amounts of Carbon 14, inconsistent with their assumed millions of years ages. For some examples of this, see Quotations about Evolution. Also interesting in this regard is that living bacteria have been extracted from fossils in amber that are thought to be millions of years old.

It is also of interest in regard to radiometric dating that Robert Gentry claims to have found "squashed" polonium haloes as well as embryonic uranium radiohaloes in coal deposits from many geological layers claimed to be hundreds of millions of years old. (See the Oct. 15, 1976 issue of Science.) These haloes represent particles of polonium and uranium which penetrated into the coal at some point and produced a halo by radioactive decay. The fact that they are squashed indicates that part of the decay process began before the material was compressed, so the polonium had to be present before compression. Since coal is relatively incompressible, Gentry concludes that these particles of uranium and polonium must have entered the deposit before it turned to coal. However, there is a very small amount of lead with the uranium; if the uranium had entered hundreds of millions of years ago, then there should be much more lead. The amount of lead present is consistent with an age of thousands rather than millions of years. It's hard to believe, according to conventional geological time scales, that this coal was compressed any time within the past several thousand or even hundred million years. So there seems to be something wrong with the conventional chronology. However, Gentry's results are consistent with a model in which the flood occurred a few thousand years ago and caused the vegetation to be compressed and coalified at that time. This is in harmony with my own belief that the seven day creation week occurred about 6,000 years ago and that there was no life on earth before that time.

The preceding models do not make any assumption about the age of the earth. One can either assume that the earth is old, but life was created recently, or that the earth is young, but formed from pre-existing old material, or that the earth is young, and radiometric decay rates were much faster at some time in the past. Here we are dealing with matters far beyond our understanding, so it is best not to be too dogmatic one way or the other. For some evidence for a young universe, see and . An assumption of an old or recently re-fashioned earth and old universe can be reconciled with the Genesis account without much trouble, assuming that the creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1 speaks of an event billions of years ago. It could be that on day four of the creation week, the sun, moon, and stars became visible, due to the clearing of clouds or vapor from the skies. References to the creation of the sun, moon, and stars could be references back to the earlier creation in Genesis 1:1. This construction would be similar to Genesis 2:19, which has a flashback to an earlier creation of the animals that is chronologically out of order. However, the Lord made very clear in Exodus 20 that the creation took six days, and this carries a lot of weight with Bible believing Christians. The six day time period of creation is repeated in Exodus 31:17.

In this way, we obtain a model of the past that seems to agree with the great majority of scientific evidence, but is also satisfying to one interpreting the Bible in a literal manner. My purpose is not only this, but also to show that one can be very flexible in the choice of a flood model, so that the Biblical flood is not as easy to debunk as some evolutionists claim. Also, many of the objections to a global flood often mentioned on have been considered in detail by creationists, and plausible answers have been given. There are a number of creation and flood models, and it is possible that the particular models described here have never been presented before.

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