Geologists see effects of Noah’s Flood in Africa

posted in: Landscapes | 17
Plateau high above sea level from a highway stop east of Pretoria. The plateau was eroded flat by floodwaters receding in wide sheets after the ocean basins began to open and deepen. The sediments of the Karoo basin exposed across this plateau contain vast coal deposits used for electricity generation at numerous power stations.
Plateau high above sea level from a highway stop east of Pretoria. The plateau was eroded into sediments of the Karoo basin by floodwaters receding in wide sheets after the ocean basins began to open and deepen. The sediments of the Karoo basin exposed across this plateau contain vast coal deposits used for electricity generation at numerous power stations.
About 4,500 years ago, the African continent was entirely covered with water. We know this is true because humans witnessed the event, recorded what they saw, and the document they wrote is available to us today. About that water and its depth that account reads:

For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. Genesis 7:17–20.

This was a period of great sedimentation on the earth, especially on the parts of the crust that now form the present continents.

Once the waters of the Flood had completely inundated every piece of land on the earth, they began to recede, and they continued to recede for a period of about seven months, until the continents were dry. Where did the waters go? They flowed into the ocean basins which were widening at the time, or deepening, or both.

Geologists actually catch hints of this event but their interpretive framework, especially the dates they have assigned, prevents them from making the connection. For example, they speak of a time when the Indian and Atlantic Oceans were ‘born’—of the break-up of Gondwana. The ‘birth’ of these oceans provided the place for the waters to go:

The break-up of Gondwana began with the opening of the Indian Ocean along the African east coast, heralded by the eruption of basalts and rhyolites of the Lebombo region.1

This is the first hint of geological changes to the ocean basins, needed to receive the floodwaters. According to their evolutionary thinking it was some 180 million years ago, but in reality that translates to about ‘half way’ through the Flood. Here is another quote:

Some 120 million years ago, South America began to detach from Africa, opening rifts along the southern African west coast. This thinned the continental crust: the start of the Atlantic Ocean.2

This is the second hint. The dates, of course, are subjective and made to agree with their long-age framework of thinking. If the relative timing is correct, and that would need to be checked, then it means that, during the Flood, the Indian Ocean opened up slightly before the Atlantic.

When we disregard the absolute ‘dates’, this description and the events that follow fit nicely with what the Bible says. Of course, the two descriptions of the event are from two different observational locations: Noah was on the Ark watching the water rise and fall, while the geologists are now on the ground looking at its effects. This is what Noah recorded:

Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible. Genesis 8:2–5.

There is no doubt about the dates in this account (e.g. “the seventeenth day of the seventh month” and “the first day of the tenth month”.) The dates are based on careful observation and recording, which is the only reliable way of measuring elapsed time. No assumptions were involved—just observation.

Geologists catch further hints of the consequences of the receding stage of the Flood on the African continent:

Sedimentation and marine life during Gondwana’s break-up

Unlike the Karoo—where sedimentation occurred for nearly 120 million years, much of it on land, producing a complete record of terrestrial life during the Permian, Triassic and early Jurassic Periods—the later Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods during which the break-up of Gondwana occurred are poorly documented in the rocks of South Africa. During this time it seems that southern Africa was elevated and the interior was experiencing erosion. Sedimentation deposition was taking place mainly in the developing Indian and Atlantic oceans, now all off-shore areas.3

Note the statement, “During this time it seems that southern Africa was elevated”. That is consistent with the continent rising and emerging from beneath the floodwaters, just as the Bible records.

However, we should first clarify some of the evolutionary assumptions in this statement. Note that the filling of the Karoo basin did not take 120 million years but something of the order of a month or two. The sedimentation happened quickly because there was enormous geological energy involved in the filling process. Note too that the fossils in the Karoo do not provide a record of life over millions of years but record the order in which plants and animals were buried during the Flood, in particular its middle period just before the waters peaked.

Also, we need to hold lightly to the claim that the opening and deepening of the ocean basins actually involved the break-up of a supercontinent called Gondwana, with South America and Antarctica breaking away from southern Africa and moving to their present locations. This may be correct or the story may change with further research.

The key point is that the geological observations on southern Africa match the pattern expected from the biblical account of the Flood, when it says the waters stopped rising and began to recede from the earth.

The change in sedimentation on Africa described by geologists matches this change in water movement. When the waters were rising, the floodwaters were depositing sediment on the interior of Africa, ending with the enormous Karoo Basin. When the waters were receding, sedimentation was at the edges of the continent. Further, when the waters were rising, the interior of Africa was experiencing great sediment deposition. When the waters were receding the interior of Africa was experiencing great erosion. That is why the geologists speak of the break-up being “poorly documented”.

So, geologists do see the effects of Noah’s Flood, and document them quite remarkably. But they do not make the connection because of the uniformitarian glasses they are wearing by which they interpret the evidence. This philosophy is like mind-forged manacles. It would be interesting if geologists could free themselves to look through a different interpretive framework. If they would do this, even for a little while and for the adventure of exploring new ideas, it will be interesting to hear of the new insights that they will gain.


1. McCarthy, T. and Rubidge, B., The Story of Earth and Life: A Southern African Perspective, Struik Nature, Cape Town, p. 245, 2005

2. McCarthy and Rubidge, ref. 1, p. 246.

3. McCarthy and Rubidge, ref. 1, p. 249.

17 Responses

  1. Richard G

    I loved your comment about Noah making dated notes as he observed when various flood phenomena occurred. Hardly the stuff of myth or legend. Noah as an eye witness of a real event.

  2. Joseph dT

    Many thanks for this Dr Walker. Having been born and raised in South Africa, I always appreciate articles about home, even though I have now lived for over 12 years in Ireland. I forward the same to a few other exiles that may also be interested.

  3. Tim P

    Thank you, Tas.
    These blogs are good resources.

  4. Joe Taylor

    Good work Tas. Perhaps Darwin was too busy watching non-evolving finches to see the Biblical geology.

  5. Garry G

    Thanks for this series. Very interesting.

    I travelled from Coffs to Tasmania on my motorbike just before last Christmas. While camping at Wynyard on the beautiful north coast, I spent a couple of hours scrambling over the boulders at the base of Fossil Bluff. If you haven’t been there, it is well worth the visit.

    The sandstone over shale deposits are on stark display and thousands of bivalves, snails and sponges are preserved in the soft silty deposits between the harder sandstone and grey shale. Of course, the signage at the car park speaks of 200 million years instead of the much more plausible 4500 years. In fact it beggars belief from this site that the fossils are millions of years old rather than thousands.

    I was reminded at the time of the incredible faith required to hold belief in the uniformitarian worldview.

    Fossil Bluff would make a very interesting article describing the processes of the Flood along the north coast of Tasmania, and Bass Strait.

  6. Ken A

    Your work here is so AWESOME!! …. I really appreciate it.

  7. David P

    Yes, I think that the geologists frequently have the events and the sequence right but the time scale is wrong. Thanks so much for confirming this understanding!

    Tas Walker responds:
    Yes, that is correct but you can’t just accept what they say but you need to check everything. Because they do not think about the Flood catastrophe they often jump to what we would say are wrong conclusions. For example, they interpret the enormous cross beds often found in sandstone deposits as a desert environment rather than invoke huge water flow. Again, they interpret scratches on rocks, or large boulders in sand deposits as a glacial environment instead of an enormous underwater mud flow. And we need to be careful too about the way they assign rocks to the geologic column because they do that on the basis of fossils, sometimes creating an inconsistency. We need to look at the physical context of the deposits within the Flood paradygm: waters rising, waters falling, etc.

  8. David M

    Thanks Tas. By the way, have you been to or written about the Flood Geology of Israel?

    Tas Walker responds:
    Hi David,

    I’ve been to Israel but I’ve not yet written anything on its geology. Andrew Snelling has though: The Geology of Israel within the Biblical Creation-Flood Framework of History:
    1. The pre-Flood Rocks
    2. The Flood Rocks

    I lean to the view that the Precambrian rocks that Andrew assigns to the pre-Flood era, the Creation Event, are not Creation rocks but early Flood rocks. I envisage the huge scale of the deposits and metamorphism evident in those rocks would be the sort of thing that would result from the incredibly catastrophic processes that operated as the Flood began. I lean to that view but I’m not necessarily sold out on it. But I think we need to keep our options open as we think more about it. There are papers on the pre-Flood boundary on, especially some interesting ones by Max Hunter.

    In his Part 2 Andrew Snelling describes the Flood rocks. Most of the sediments of the Flood were deposited before the Flood reached its peak. After peaking the waters receded and that eroded the land. Faulting also occurred in association with the opening of the oceans and the rising of the continents, the Jordon Valley being the significant example in Israel.

    Andrew Snelling mentions the erosion occurring as the ocean basins opened up and the waters receded. The eroded land surface is what you can see when you visit Israel—the land as it emerged. It is interesting when you travel across Israel to envisage where the waters flowed as they receded. You can also envisage the receding waters with the aid of Google maps and Google Earth.

  9. David Graham

    Thanks Tas for this insightful article. I will pass it on to friends of mine from South Africa so that they can observe first hand what you are describing.

  10. George H

    Greetings, Tas. Thanks for beautiful articles. Will be forwarding them to friends, some young agers and some long agers.

  11. Dr Barry Napier

    Have only just discovered your website and will certainly include reference to it on my own, with a link. Keep up the good work and God bless you. Dr Barry Napier, Bible Theology Ministries and

  12. Mary Goddard

    In response to Garry G: is there really a place called ‘Fossil Bluff’? What a giveaway! About time someone rumbled them, then! Only kidding – I know what a bluff is. But the unconscious irony of the name tickled me!

  13. Marietjie Mostert

    Dear Tasman,

    I know the geology of South Africa very well, for that is where I trained as a geologist.

    Tas Walker responds: Well, Marietjie, you certainly trained in a beautiful country. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit.

    It is a pity that people try and link the Biblical Flood with ancient terrestrial events in Africa that has no connection with the Biblical Flood whatsoever. May I point out that the mountains of Urartu (named in the Bible in connection with Noah’s Flood) does not lie in Africa, but in Asia?

    Tas: Yes, I’m aware of the location of Ararat. It is more than 5,000 m high, and for the Ark to come to rest on that mountain (and there is some debate about whether this is the correct location) means that the whole of Africa would have been covered in water.

    Further, are you aware of Sir Leonard Woolley’s excavations at Ur and the ancient flood that he dug up there?

    Tas: Yes, I have long been aware of Woolley’s flood and his claim that he found Noah’s Flood. However, it does not take much academic skill to compare the characteristics of the biblical Flood with those of Woolley’s. List them and see how they match. That is what academic research is about—making logical comparisons. I’ve not published anything for Woolley’s flood but I have made the comparison with the more recent claim by Ryan and Pitman whose book you can buy through the Geological Society of Australia bookshop. (See The Black Sea flood.) Interestingly, more recent research in the area has shown Ryan and Pitman’s hypothesis to be wrong.

    Are you suggesting that the Earth’s surface in the past was much shrunken in comparison to today, and that is was therefore possible for waters to cover the entire surface, and then recede into ocean basins – which, presumably, occurred as a result of an expansion of the earth itself? For this is what the theory as expressed in your article, implies.

    Suggest you calculate the required surface of a planet that would have no large oceans upon it, and the surface required for our own planet, which has about 70% of its surface covered in water – often very deep water.

    Suggest you calculate the amount of water vapour required in the atmosphere of this primeval (4500 year-old?) planet required to cover the surface of the resulting planet (which has a much larger surface) with over 70% of water. Are we living on an expanding balloon?

    Tas: The changes in elevation of the crustal plates are small compared to the diameter of the earth. In these days we are accustomed to picturing plates moving over the earth and subducting. We are also familiar with sea level curves and know that each of the continents was covered by shallow seas. So, it is really not that out-of-the-ordinary to envisage. (See, Where did all the water come from? and Where did all the water go?

    With all respect, this is clearly rubbish. Please do us Christians, who also happen to be scientists, the favour of not contributing to this gobbledygook. You make us the laughing-stock of the Richard Dawkinses of this world, and it does nothing to earn the respect of thinking non-Christians. Please study St Augustine’s works. Also study John Lennox’s books, and those of Alistair McGrath (if you find St Augustine or John Calvin too hard going).

    Tas: Actually, there are many Christians who are scientists who accept that the Bible is recording real history. Here are 50 PhD scientists. Have you read the book In Six Days?

    By the way – God is eternal. There is no need to try and fit Him into our silly little time-bound schemes. He can create things quickly as well as slowly. Please read GK Chesterton’s works.

    Tas: Yes, I enjoy Chesterton. And yes, God could have created slowly. The important issue for those who are committed to Jesus Christ is not what God could have done, but what he told us he has done.

    Please reconsider. You are not doing us a favour. Let us please be united in Christ and not divided in Genesis.

    Tas: Yes, I agree. As a follower of Jesus Christ, who is our Creator, our Redeemer and our coming King, our aim, our commitment, is to live for Him and to become like Him (Hebrews 2:2). 1 Corinthians 2:16 says “We have the mind of Christ.” As we become more like Jesus we will see the world more as he sees the world. Jesus, of course, believed the Scriptures (Matthew 5:17–19). He castigated those who did not believe what Moses wrote (John 5:46–47; Luke 24:25–27). He believed Genesis 1 and 2, and referred to both chapters when asked about marriage (Mark 10:6–9). He spoke of Abel being the first martyr at the beginning of the world (Luke 11:50–51). He believed in Noah’s Flood (Matthew 24:37) and warned how that judgement destroyed everyone who was not on the Ark (Matthew 34:38–39). I am sure you are familiar with what he said. As we become more like Christ we will become united and our divisions will disappear (Ephesians 4:2–3). That is the challenge for all of us, you and me alike.

  14. Dave C

    I wish we could get some TV network to do a documentary on this. It would be a real eye-opener to many and a counter to the many misleading docos that appear so often on our screens. But as soon as we mention Noah or the Bible, down come the shutters.

  15. Erick Reinstedt

    Hi! Would you please consider adding an option to subscribe to this blog via email (or do you have one and I missed it?). I never seem to make it to Google Reader to check blogs I’ve added, but when I can get an email that a blog I like has a new post I am sure to see and read it. I pastor a rural church in California and am a staunch defender of YEC and a believer that it is a very important issue for both Christians and society. So, I write about it in my blog and talk about it at church often. I’d like to stay up to date on your posts. It’s just a suggestion.
    God bless. —Erick

    Tas Walker responds:
    The little orange button at the top of this blog (underneath “Biblic”) is an RSS feed and it allows you to monitor whenever a new article is posted.

  16. bryan

    on kindle there is a good book called Noahs flood in southern africa that helps explain all this stuff especially in southern africa