GEOLOGICAL CHANGES DUE TO THE FLOOD
In our last article we noted how much the environment, particularly for mankind, changed after the flood had taken place. This was most likely due to the precipitation of the water vapour canopy which had surrounded the earth and shielded it from many harmful factors. Changes in the atmosphere, the weather patterns, and food supplies would have far reaching effects upon subsequent generations of all living things.
In addition to this, other major changes would take place, which again the Bible mentions in passing without giving too many details. We shall now look in turn at the following ones:
We cannot think that these were not all dramatically changed in the upheavals accompanying the deluge. The world today is much different from what God created at the beginning principally because of this. Present day geography and topography cannot be used to describe the appearance of the world before the flood.
Floods create tremendous changes and can inflict extensive damage to both natural and man-made structures by the water itself and by the huge sediments which are moved about. Recent floods have demonstrated this all too clearly, whether you think of the devastating 2005 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the inundation of New Orleans a few months earlier, the more frequent flooding experienced in parts of Africa and Asia, or even the less- expected recent floods in the UK. Difficult and tragic though these episodes have been, their scale and their effects are really too small to be compared to the worldwide flood of Genesis 7 and the cataclysmic effects it had all across the globe. You can hardly imagine how awful (literally!) it was, with pounding rainfall for 40 days and nights, accompanied by tidal and seismic swirling of waters to and fro continuously for much longer.
But now, in addition to all the damage and changes caused by surface water and sediments, we have to take account of even greater upheavals from beneath the earth. When we read that "all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up" (Gen 7.11), it could signify water upwelling from subterranean sources, or volcanic activity releasing molten material to solidify on contact with the water and generate masses of steam, or both. Whatever it means, the effects upon the earths crust must have been immense.
The Earths Crust
The ground we stand on, contrary to the way we usually think and speak about it ("terra firma"), is in absolute terms really quite fragile. The best knowledge we have of the structure of this planet tells us that it has a dense, very hot, fluid core of molten iron, surrounded by a mantle which is still fluid but lighter. Floating on top of all this is a solid layer or "crust", only about 25 miles thick, which is less than 1% of the earths radius of about 3960 miles. You could visualise this structure as something like an egg with its yolk and white inside and its thin, fragile shell on the outside.
Furthermore, the crust is not continuous, but is composed of several huge plates which are moving very slowly. It is these movements which are mainly responsible for earthquakes and tsunami, and it is along the boundaries of these plates that most of the volcanic activity on earth is found, the molten material from below erupting through weak spots.
It may have been that the continental plates were disturbed at the flood and moved apart, then their movement slowed down to its present rate. Perhaps before the flood there was only one large continent, the dry land which was created by God on Day 3 of creation week, then after the flood it was divided. (Gen 10.25 speaks of the earth being divided in the days of Peleg.) If you examine the main land masses on a globe, you can see that they can actually fit together like a jigsaw, and because of this, traditional geology itself proposes the existence of a single continent at one time long ago, called Pangea.
Mountains and Seas
Horizontal and lateral movements on the surface of the earth would be accompanied by vertical ones also. To accommodate the burden of water which flooded the earth, the laws of gravity would cause valleys to sink deeper and mountain ranges to rise higher as continental plates shifted and tilted. There is plenty of geological evidence that this did happen at some time in the earths history. For example, the European Alps well over 10,000 ft in height contain rocks which were once beneath water. Similarly, the very deep ocean trenches could have been formed in the process by which "the waters decreased continually the tops of the mountains [were] seen" (Gen 8.5). Psalm 104.69 describes the flood and speaks of mountains going up and valleys going down, before God commands the waters not to cover the earth again. The earths surface is now 70.8% covered by water.
There can be no doubt that the flood was a worldwide event, both from the record of Scripture, and from evidences of it which are still to be seen everywhere (more of this later). But the flood waters did not have to be 30,000 ft deep to cover Mt Everest, for example. These Himalayan ranges, along with the other main mountain chains on every continent, may have only been pushed up their present elevation as the flood receded. The flood waters just had to be deep enough to allow the ark to float above the existing and much lower mountain tops such as Ararat, with 15 cubits (approx. 23 feet) to spare (Gen 7.20), which, interestingly, has been calculated to be the draught of the ark.1
There are two main types of rock on the earths surface, called igneous and sedimentary. Igneous rock was once molten, but on cooling has crystallised and solidified. Good examples are granite and basalt, chemically classed as silicates. These have most probably been little changed since their earliest creation in Genesis 1.
Sedimentary rock, on the other hand, as the name suggests is made up from small particles of sediment/sand. It has been formed by the effects of water creating and depositing sediments which have then been bonded together by pressure and chemical cementation. Good examples of this are limestone and sandstone. Sedimentary rock is usually found on top of igneous rock, except where volcanic activity or faults have disturbed the strata. Of special relevance to what we shall consider next, it is easy to see why fossils are found only in sedimentary rock which was once deposited by water but not in igneous rock which was once molten.
Sedimentary rock beds are of various thicknesses and are characteristically layered, as you can see in many cliffs and quarries. There is no doubt that the layers were formed and deposited by the action of water, and, from the viewpoint of Scripture, this would occur on at least two separate occasions.
The first of these would be during creation week, when dry land emerged from a water-covered globe. On top of the cooled igneous bedrock would accumulate layers of eroded sediment, to settle and solidify. This sedimentary rock would contain no fossils, because there were no living things to get buried in the silt. Many large thick beds of this type of rock exist with no fossils in them.
The second occasion would be the flood, when, as outlined above, huge masses of sediment would accumulate and be compressed, repeatedly as the waters ebbed and flowed, in layers which would eventually show separate boundaries. Significantly, this time all kinds of living creatures and vegetation would be rapidly buried in silt and sediment. They would be fossilised by this process, so that these layers would contain fossils of different kinds of creatures depending upon where they were when the flood waters overtook them. There they would remain until uncovered by excavations in recent times. Geologists would classify these fossil-bearing rocks according to godless evolutionary theories, but to us they present an awful record in stone of divine judgment upon an ancient world.
We will examine the fossil record next, to see what it tells us about a world that perished in the great flood. We will also see how the evidence of the fossils does not point to evolution after all, but is far better explained by the ideas described in the above paragraphs.
To be continued.
1 For more details see And God Said by F Abou Rahme (Ritchie Publications), and The Genesis Flood by J C Whitcomb and H M Morris (Baker Book House) undoubtedly the authoritative and key reference work on this subject.