Causes of the Great Flood

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Michelangelo's depiction of the Great Flood

One of the largest challenges for Young Earth Creationists is providing a valid scientific explanation for the causes of the Great Flood. This flood was the means of God's judgment on mankind because of the evil in their hearts and actions. Though there is some geological evidence for a massive worldwide flood, one question remains: where did all that water come from?

Comet theory

One theory, proposed by Bruce Masse, posits that a massive comet splashed down in the Indian Ocean thousands of years ago, causing a worldwide flood that nearly wiped out all life on Earth. Masse's claim relies heavily on not only the flood myths of different cultures, but also on the fact that 70% of the Earth is covered by water, making observation of a crater at the bottom of the Indian Ocean very difficult.

However, along with Ted Bryant of the University of Wollongong, Masse began looking for geological signs of a "mega-tsunami". Scanning through satellite images of the Earth, Masse and his team discovered massive chevrons — wedge-shaped sandy structures that are sometimes packed with deep-oceanic microfossils dredged up by the tsunami — 4 miles into the coast of Madagascar. Masse and his team contend that this evidence is proof of both the comet impact and the global flood.[1] Unfortunately, such an impact event would have sent thousands of cubic meters of dust into the air, rendering photosynthesis impossible. This also makes the flood redundant.

Vapor Canopy theory

The vapor canopy theory was originally posited by Isaac Vail in 1874.[2] It is one of the most common amongst young earth creationists. The theory states that the earth originally had a canopy of water vapor[3] above the troposphere. The canopy could account for the unusually long lifespans depicted in the Bible. Though the canopy is not directly mentioned in the Bible, the idea is said to arise from Genesis 1:6-8[4]

The vapor canopy theory has been largely abandoned by many creationists, as it is very difficult to fathom scientifically.[5]

Fountains of the Great Deep

The fountains of the great deep are referenced in Genesis 7:11[6] These are believed to have been massive subterranean deposits of water, which some suggest were trapped underneath the land after God made the dry land appear from under the waters.[7]

The "breaking up" of the waters could refer to volcanic activity, as water vapor is the most abundant dissolved gas in magma.[8] One such proponent of this theory is John Baumgardner, a geophysicists who studied at UCLA. He created a computer program known as Terra. In his program, the magma churns and boils like water in a pot. As the cooler, heavier material sinks, the hotter, lighter material rises.[9] Baumgardner believes that God stretched out the tectonic plates, causing the magma to rise into the ocean. The water displaced by this volcanic event could have sent massive tidal waves around the world, causing most or all of the land to be covered by water. After the event, the runoff of water would have been traveling at nearly 100 miles per hour, which Baumgardner states could have formed the Grand Canyon in about a week.[9]


  1. "Did a Comet Cause the Great Floor?", Discover Magazine
  2. Evidence for God
  3. Though some creationists claim it was a layer of ice
  4. Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. -- New King James Version
  6. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
  7. “Deep waters,” New Scientist, 1997, 155(2097):22-26
  8. Magma Chemistry and Physical Properties
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Noah and the Flood", Creation vs. Evolution II