Flood geology and erosion

I’m going to be doing a debate on SFT’s YouTube channel in the new year against a creationist about whether Noah’s flood can explain the geologic column.

One of the arguments that I would like to present to him is that the amount of erosion that would be required in order to lay down the deposition that is observed would require flood conditions that would not be survivable by any plant, sea creature, or insect, and likely not survivable by the ark either.

The logic of the argument proceeds as follows: the common starting point for the sediment that is laid down by the flood is the great unconformity. The endpoint varies depending on who you ask, but generally spans at least most of the geologic column from there on. The great unconformity lies between two to three kilometres before the surface, all over the world. As such, there is around a 2km thick layer of sediment that must have been deposited during the period of roughly one year, over the entirety of the earth’s landmass.

Provided this sediment was eroded from some other rock elsewhere on the earth before it was deposited in its current location, and subsequently lithified, then this means that the force of the flood waters were sufficient to erode 2km worth of earth and stone over the whole of the earth over the course of one year. Now, I am not a geologist, or an engineer, but to me that sounds like something that would take a very large amount of water under a tremendous amount of pressure.

Does anyone know how one would go about calculating the minimum amount of pressure/speed the flood water would have to be under in order to create the amount of erosion that we see today (in a one year timeframe)? Better yet, would anyone be willing to help me do the calculations?

On a related issue, given the amount of deposition that we see, if we assume that the amount of water currently on the earth is all the water available, how turbid must that water have been, on average, during the whole of that year, in order for it to have carried and deposited that amount of sediment? My back of the envelope calculations seemed to suggest that all the water in the world would have about 30% of is volume made up of sediment, which I imagine is well past is saturation limit. How fast would water have to be moving to carry this amount of sediment, and what would it have to do in order to cause it to deposit at all?

I know there are many other ways to attack the impossibility of the flood model, but I think addressing the fact that the flood itself must necessarily have been so violent that no plants or seeds could live through it, and the waters so choked with mud that no sea creature could live through it, and the currents would have to be so violent that no raft or boat or mat of vegetation could avoid being broken up, is an interesting and potentially novel angle.

I appreciate any input or help.

The simple approach is to calculate the Work involved, in Joules, then convert Joule to Calories to determine how much heat would be generated. For example, in the Fountains of the Deep flood scenario, water is raise from the Earth mantle to cause the flood. The mantle is ~1000km below the surface, to raising 1 kilogram of water 1000 km to the surface must generate 1000 degrees C of waste heat - that’s ignoring and friction or other inefficiency in the process. This also ignores that water down there is in solid form, and additional energy will be needed to make it liquid again.

Ignoring all that, the water is already at ~1000 C down there, and will be at least 2000 C when it reaches the surface. That’s hot enough to melt rock too, when what actually comes up is superheated steam and rock ash. MORE energy will be needed to lift the rock/magma/ash, but I have no idea how to do that calculation. It’s fair to say that 2000 C severely underestimates the heat produced.

A very conservative estimate of the amount of water needed is roughly 3 times the amount currently present on Earth. That’s enough to raise sea levels ~300 feet, and YEC claim there were no mountains prior to the flood. A huge amount of superheated water and volcanic ash arrive at the surface of the Earth. There’s room here for a calculation of how hot it actually gets (well over 1000 C), but (long story short) it’s easily hot enough to boil the oceans away; The Ark, Noah and family, and every living thing on the planet get incinerated. End of story.

YEC are aware of this problem, and discussed it at the RATE conference, and those Conference proceeding are available online. The problem with presenting the heat problem is they will waive it off with claims of miracles. You first need to establish they are trying to make scientific claims, then you need to wait until they make certain claims about what happened during the Flood (such as those in Fountains of the Deep). Once you get them committed to these claims, THEN you hit then with the Laws of Physics.

What I describe here doesn’t touch on the additional heat produced to move waters around, carry sediment, etc., which was your original question. That also creates a heat problem, but that only matters if there is liquid water, which isn’t possible.

The Vapor Canopy scenario for the Flood doesn’t generate as much heat, but still enough to kill everything. Mike Elzinga has written about the Vapor Canopy at Pandas Thumb. [THIS SEARCH](https://site:pandasthumb.org vapor canopy) should get you to those posts.


I would actually recommend an even simpler approach. Every time they make a claim about the Flood, ask “How is that possible under the laws of physics?” They either won’t have an answer, or will fall back on “miracles.” You still need to be prepared to explain the Heat Problem, but try to make them show their work. Of course they haven’t done the work (point one), probably can’t begin to say HOW to do these calculations (more point one), or any science that conforms to the laws of physics (point two). All they have are assertions of miracles (point three: Apologetics), that that should be your main argument.

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Fish surviving for and length of time in water+30% sediment (ie: mud).
Historical records (there were civilizations ~4000 years ago that didn’t get wiped out).
Radioactive decay and a 6000 year old Earth (An even worse Heat Problem).

more as I think of it …

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It has been my experience that disputing technical aspects of the flood is not productive. The flood is not scientific… so, arguing its science doesnt get one very far.

I would focus on just 1 question:

If there was a global flood, how is it that the only placental mammals to reach Australia are the most recent arrivals (bats, a few kinds of rodents, dogs)?

Given the relative superiority of placentals over marsupials, there is no explanation for why bears, lions, wolves or any other placental predators did not come to dominate Australia?


Hi Dan,

Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply! I really appreciate it.

In terms of the heat problem, I am aware of it, as Erika (Gutsickgibbon) has beautifully and carefully beaten that in to the SFT community over the last 3 years. It seems that my opponent, TRock, does not appreciate the severity of the heat problem, and I am prepared to elucidate him in the subject. However, that is really Erika’s baby, and so while I am definitely going to bring it up and hammer it (when you have a winner, use it, right?) I also want to give them a fresh angle and problem.

TRock presented a model that he thinks accords with science,

and he is a mechanical engineer by training who wants to focus on the mechanics of his model. Since I am a lawyer by training with a love for cross examinations, I am more than happy to poke holes in his model, but since I would like this to cause problems not just for his model, but for flood geology more generally, I am attacking the mechanics of erosion and deposition in his model because other models will share this problem.

The reason I like this approach is that it is especially difficult to hand-waive away problems that are core to your model’s subject of explanation. That is, the flood seeks to explain how this sediment got to where it is, and if the way that they say it got the sediment to where it is kills everything, then using a miracle to solve that problem denudes your model of its explanatory power.

So the goal here is to force TRock to resort to a miracle to explain how the water got going fast enough to erode the necessary rock, resort to a miracle to protect the ark from such violent water, and then point it that he needs more miracles to prevent this very violent flood from killing every other plant and every sea creature.

That is, of course, on TOP of the heat problem, resulting in no small part from the radiometric decay of the isotopes that must have decayed after being laid down in the geologic column we observe, and thereby generate enough great to melt the granitic crust of the earth a dozen times over.

Lastly, the endgame is to point out that with such a world to land on, covered in jagged rocky sands and smashed rocks two kilometres deep, there would be no plant life, nothing to grow, and no soil in which to grow either, so how do the ark inhabitants (who by the way must be harboring every known parasite and disease between them and so are all incredibly sick, AND juveniles) survive in such a world without yet more miracles?

The point essentially, is that there are going to be problems with TRock’s model, as there will be with any other flood model, that those problems are fundamental to the model, and that the models will require extensive reworking.

I have asked TRock to provide me with his calculations of all of this, so he knows this is coming in advance, but as to whether he will actually do those calculations or not, I don’t know. In the event that he doesn’t, or doesn’t do them correctly, I would really love to have the right numbers. Unfortunately doing the calculations is not something squarely within my skillset. Hopefully this kind community of scientists will be able to help!

@gbrooks9 is correct, such arguments don’t get very far, by themselves. The goal is to show that Flood Geology is apologetics. This is why you should first establish that Trock is trying to present a scientific argument. If he isn’t making a scientific claim, your job is done.
Once you have a “scientific” argument, and a specific claim, then you can proceed to beat him over the head with the laws of physics.

If he decides to go the apologetics route, that’s fine. There are many interpretations of Genesis, and none of them are Christian doctrine.

Be on the lookout for the Omphalos Argument (God can do anything and may have done so Last Thursday). This is contradictory to Christian doctrine because it allows the Resurrection may have occurred last Thursday too.

You have the right idea. Ask Trock to show his work, or to cite anyone who has done such work. Ask what evidence could possibly contradict his claims. It should be possible, at least in theory, to find evidence to falsify any scientific hypothesis.

I’m looking for a copy of Antoine Bret’s article, “Yes we were there”. Will add a link when I find it …

ETA: The newsletter with this essay can be downloaded here:

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Hi George,

I appreciated the reply.

I agree with you that focusing on only one question is essential in these kinds of debates. Because the other side is typically so resistant, getting any kind of admission takes a long time, and you have to tailor the admission you are looking for to the person you are questioning.

In this context, my opponent is a mechanical engineer who has developed his own pet flood model, and so I am hypothesizing that he will be more inclined to give me details and calculations tailored to the mechanics of that flood model. That’s why I am focusing on this issue

All of that having been said I think the argument you brought up is a great one that deserves to be kept in mind for the right moment.

Well, parts of it are. But is that where the fountains are supposed to be? Could be in the mantle, but even so, parts of the mantle are less than 20km down, and it could be in the crust. The bible, of course, provides no guidance, since God, when he wrote it, knew nothing about the structure of the earth. As far as we know, the fountains could have been very close to the surface. If you’re going to beat on Flood geology, you need to use the best-case scenario, say 1km. Not so much of a problem any more.

I hate watching online videos, but I find it very hard to believe that flood geology could offer any plausible explanation for the actual order. Is there a text source which explains his ideas?.

As for TRock’s take on the ordering of the geological record, I posted some thoughts on fossil stratification on a PS post here, that might be of interest.

On a related note, a 2km thick layer of lithified sediment covering the entire surface area of the Earth is an unfathomable amount of material. Where did it come from and how, mechanically, did it get eroded and dissolved into the flood waters and then basically deposited more or less equally across the entire surface of the planet?

Like, where on the Earth was all this material located to begin with? Did a continent the size of africa extend like 15 km into the air somewhere that nobody knew of, then get basically sanded down to level with the remaining crust, and then deposited ~equally across the globe? The idea is stupid on it’s face. It can’t be entertained by a thinking person.

There was a finding a few year back of trace amounts of Olivine Ringwoodite trapped within a diamond. From this there are legitimate estimates of a lot of water (in the form of Olivine Ringwoodite) trapped deep in the mantle. YEC ran with this, saying science had proven there was enough water in the mantel to be a source for the waters of the Flood.

In fairness to TRock, this is something that I am putting to him as a necessary assumption that his model (and all flood models) must make, because they say that the entire geologic column from the Cambrian to the Pleistocene (or at least the Eocene) was deposited during the flood. The question then becomes, how much column is that overall? Well, there is a massive unconformity called the great unconformity which corresponds to the beginning of the Cambrian, that exists all over the earth, about 2 to 3 Km under the surface on average, and is the result of some great erosion event (either a big flood or worldwide glaciers during snowball earth, with the latter being the dominant theory), and so I am suggesting to him that from there to the Pleistocene must all have been deposited by the flood according to his model.

The question then becomes, if so, then where did it come from? TRock hasn’t said, but I have asked him to clarify this. I think the options must be either that world had a very large layer of loose earth (either under the sea or on land) that the flood picked up and moved to its current location, or that the flood waters eroded all of that sediment and deposited it as well, all during that one year flood event.

I was clear with TRock that he can choose whatever starting conditions he likes for the pre-flood world, but that he will be expected to justify those starting conditions with arguments and observational evidence, so the easiest position for him to take is that the sediment came from the area around where it was deposited, and was just scoured up by the flood and redeposited a short distance away. If he goes a different direction, he will just create different problems for himself.

Regardless of which one of direction TRock chooses, I have asked him for the calculations of what would be necessary in terms of water to excavate/scour/how-ever-you-want-to-put-it the sediment, and what would be necessary to carry that sediment to the location where it was deposited. My sense is that regardless of where he says the sediment came from, it is going to mean a great deal of energy has to be expended in order to move that amount of rock any appreciable distance, but as I mentioned, I do not know how to do those calculations, what they would depend on, or how they would scale with distance or mass of rock. Molecular biologists are good at math, right? Any ideas?

Good points. I would expand on that by pointing out that most index fossils are brachiopods, clams, or something like them.

Interesting that whenever a dinosaur and a certain type of bivalve are found in the same column of rock, the bivalve is always above the dinosaur. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. This is especially strange considering, as one of your commenters pointed out, they don’t have feet. Also, to the point, they are not strong, they are not smart, they live on the bottom of the sea to begin with, and there is no discernable morphological reason why they should be sorted differently from the other very similar bivalves which are also on this list. What makes the top one above the dinosaurs, and some of the other ones below?

If I have time to hit him with this stuff, rest assured that I will, but you know how difficult it can be to force a YEC to grapple with any point. I have to stay very focused.

Another point that I considered hitting him with was the ostracod problem. Ostracods are these prolific single celled organisms that produce shells. They are found all over the world, in many different environments, and in such numbers that scientists use the the tiny morphological differences in the shells they produce to determine the changes in climate over time. This means of course that ostracods morphology change over time. So another interesting challenge would be to have TRock explain how the tiny differences in related ostracod morphology over time and space, which are so slight that they form a gradient in places with high ostracod concentration, were sorted in such a precise way that it mirrors the way they are sorted today based on age and environment, and yet it is still the case that they were deposited by the flood.

But that is a relatively young argument for me. I don’t know how solid it is (ie: I recently came up with it and haven’t researched whether all the stuff I just said is necessarily true). What do you think?

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The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology. (PDF)

This is a bit dated now, but there may be a few gems you can use.

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There is lots of excellent stuff in here. Thank you.

One problem with that: olivine contains no water.

MY bad - Ringwoodite, not Olivine. @MrAnderson please take note.

Thank you, however I believe that for TRock specifically, he is of the view that the waters were beneath the earth because the continents were up on stilts of granite, and that the pillars holding them cracked and tipped over, causing the continents to be thrown out over the water and hydroplane to their current locations.

I know, I know, it’s not very plausible. I told you it was his pet theory. I have already asked him for the math on how fast they would need to be going, how tall the pillars would need to be to generate that speed, and whether they could support continents lifted (however high up) above the water.