Black Sea Flood
5600 BC
(What happened ?)
Findings and Interpretation of
Geologist Dr. William Ryan
as Presented by John Kozlowski
Friday November 17, 2006
Overview
• Background : Classical Story, then
physical and scientific context
• Conditions (Global warming, after the end
of last Ice Age; Sea Levels rise)
• Ryan’s Flood explanation
• Evidence found
The well known story of
Noah’s Flood
Biblical rendition: Noah’s Ark
Noah’s Flood : Just a story, or is
there more to it ?
• Question: Has there been any scientific
evidence found that may be associated to
the famous story of Noah building an Ark
to preserve living animals from the
onslaught of the flood ?
Background
Black Sea location : Physical context,
and just how large is the Black Sea ?
Black Sea in the context of Europe
Black Sea today: dimensions
• At present the Black Sea is 750 miles long
and 380 miles wide (1210 km by 610 km),
and covers an area comparable to the size
of California.
• The Black Sea’s deepest bed is 7238 feet,
ie 2206 m, below the surface.
A global warming trend
commences ~15000 BP
• The last Ice Age (~100,000 yr in duration)
began to come to an end ~15,000 BP, as
the earth started to warm up.
• The upper latitudes of the continents laid
buried under sheets of glacial ice.
• At the peak of glaciation, oceans were
several hundred feet lower than today.
EurAsian IceCap (Ryan P.156)
Glacier melt underway
• About ~15,000 BP (Before Present), global
warming caused the glaciers to start to
melt, and the ice-line began to retreat.
• Average global temperatures have risen
by about 5 degrees Celsius, since the last
Ice Age (compared to present).
• Sea Level rose (see graphs)
Sea Level Rise vs Time
Sea Level rise over last 9000 yr
As the last Ice Age was ending …
During the timespan (15000-7600 BP):
A global warming ensued, glaciers melted,
and as regards this case, rivers emptying
into the Black Sea –Danube, Dniester,
Dnieper and Don- formed vast freshwater
lakes in the Black and Caspian.
Now, Let’s Look at the region …
Composite Satellite Image
Black Sea isolated
• Note that during (15000-7600 BP), the
Mediterranean was cut off from the Black
Lake, so that as the level of the Atlantic
Ocean started to rise, the Mediterranean
did as well, but the Black Lake did not.
The water level discrepancy reached as
much as 400 feet.
Ryan: Black Sea was a freshwater
body before the flood
• By using core samples taken from the
floor, and computer reconstruction of the
seabed, Ryan and Pitman determined that
before the flood, the Black Sea was a
freshwater lake. It lay several hundred feet
below the Bosporous Valley.
• A sense of the topography, is seen from…
Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean did not connect to
Black
During the period (9000-7600 BP) the
water level of the Mediterranean continued
to rise, but in expanding northward, it was
only able to reach the edge of the
Bosporous Valley, since it was ultimately
held back by a natural sediment dam,
there (~400 feet high and ~2 mile wide).
Bosporous Valley lies between
the Marmara and Black seas
Black Lake remained saline free
• Hence, up to 7600 BP, the Mediterranean had
no water exchange with the Black Sea (Ryan,
1998).
• A diagram presented in the Ruddiman text
shows that all that separated the freshwater
Black Lake from the saltwater Mediterranean
(which reached the Sea of Marmara) was the
small Bosporous Valley.
When were the Seas connected?
Agean ->? Marmara ->? Black
Mediterranean finally overflows
• Finally, at (~7600 BP, ie 5600 BC): Excess
waters in the Mediterranean pushed
northward, causing the Agean and
Maramara seas to rise, and the water
broke through the dam at Bosporous, and
finally spilled into the Black Lake, in a
massive flood.
Flood lasted >2 years, and
volume was huge
It has been estimated that each day for two
years, ten cubic miles of ocean water cut
through the widening Bosporous channel flowed
into the Black Lake, henceforth called Black
Sea.
Over two years, the water level rose by 330 feet.
Ryan :Flood force was 200 times
that of Niagara Falls
• By Ryan’s assessment, the flood hit the
Black Lake with a force equivalent to 200
times that associated with Niagara Falls.
• The incoming salt water, more dense than
freshwater, plunged to the bottom of the
lake bed, transforming it into a sea where
the depths do not support life (anoxic).
The Flood: a massive onslaught of
water
Animation
• http://emvc.geol.ucsb.edu/download/black
seaflood.php
Flood raised Black Sea water level
by 140m
• Dr. Glenn Jones (Texas Institue of
Oceanography, BBC interview):
“It’s amazing to think of raising the Black
Sea basin by 140 m. What that means, if
you calculate how much water went into
the Black Sea, it would be equivalent to
lowering the world’s oceans by
approximately one foot.”
Point of Dispute
An issue of dispute is whether the
conversion period of the Black Sea from
freshwater to salty water was long and
gradual (hundreds, or thousands of years),
or whether it occurred over a short period
of time (~ from 2 to 30 years), as would
happen due to a cataclysmic flood, as
suggested by Ryan.
Ryan and Pitman seek evidence
Deep gorge discovered at Bosporous
Freshwater -> saline water
Carbon 14 dating of mussel shells
Ryan found a deep gorge in the
Bosporous Strait
Deep gorge (~80m-100m) at
Bosporous
• Ryan discovered a large gorge in the
Bosporous, which cut deep into the bedrock.
It is interpreted as evidence of the passage of an
enormous flow of water (pouring) through it.
• Dr. Walter Pitman: “The depth of the hard rock
below the sediment was between 80m to 100m.
It indicated that this channel had to have been
cut by a rush of fast-moving water”. (100 km/hr)
(BBC interview)
Coarse sediments tilted northward,
to the Black Sea
The coarse sediment at the gorge’s bottom
was found arrayed in dune shapes, tilted
to the north, thereby indicating flow from
Agean to Black Seas.
Dating of Black Sea mussel shells
Carbon 14 dating of shells of freshwater
mussles (found in sediment core
investigation), were compared with shells
of mussles and plankton that lived in
saline water, in order to test the abrupt
transition hypothesis. (ie Transition from
freshwater to saline water composition.)
mussels
Mussel Shells dated
• Mussel shells were pulled from core
samples of the deepest sediments of the
Black Sea.
• Carbon 14 dating of mussel shells from
across the bredth of the Black Sea, would
show whether the shells were of the same
age. (If so, this would be support the
“instantaneous flood” interpretation.)
Confirmed: Flood occurred over a
short time span
• Amazingly, the carbon 14 dating showed
that the mussel shells from across the
Black Sea transect were all pretty much
the same age: about (7500-7600) yrs old.
• This indicated that the flooding took place
over a short time period, termed as
“instantaneous” on a geological time scale.
Summary
• Ryan found evidence of a massive
flooding event at the Black Sea (5600 BC),
including the deep gorge at Bosporous.
• Carbon 14 dating of mussel shells
indicated that the transition from
freshwater to saline water occurred within
a short period of time, thereby supporting
Ryan’s massive flood interpretation.
Ryan suggests the Flood may have
been the source of Noah’s story
• Ryan suggested that the flood he found,
may have been the source of the well
known story of Noah’s Flood, initially
passed down by word of mouth from
generation to generation.
• Ryan’s flood was local to the Black Sea,
and not a global one, and this is one of the
points of contention.
Migration
• Ryan also proposed that the flood may
have triggered massive migrations of
people from the Black Sea region, to
destinations as far away as Egypt, western
Europe and central Asia.
People fled, and dispersed, in their
escape
• Pitman: “We think it (the Flood event) had
a great effect on human history, because it
widely dispersed people who had different
methods of farming and had different
languages.”
Migration spreads
• The change from hunter-gatherer societies
to farming communities in Europe at
approximately 6th millenium BC, may have
been catalyzed by this great migration to
escape the Flood.
Ballard finds old shoreline,
confirming Ryan
• Marine archaeologist Robert Ballard, in a
separate investigation of the Black Sea
Flood, identified ancient shorelines,
freshwater snail shells, drowned valleys
and man made structures. Ballard’s
research of the Black Sea, found a
previous shoreline, ~450 feet below
present water level, supporting Ryan’s
contention.
The End
Ryan (1997) Salinity profiles
Flood raised Black Sea water level
by 140m
• Dr. Glenn Jones (Texas Institue of
Oceanography, BBC interview):
“It’s amazing to think of raising the Black
Sea basin by 140 m. What that means, if
you calculate how much water went into
the Black Sea, it would be equivalent to
lowering the world’s oceans by
approximately one foot.”
A few more notes on the Flood
• During the flood, the Black Sea rose (on
average) by ~15 cm, each day.
• By Ryan’s account it took ~2 years for the
water to rise 330 feet, inundating 60,000
square miles of land (10 cubic miles of sea
water per day).
• The expanse of the flood covered 155,000
square km.
Flood raised Black Sea water level
by 140m
• Dr. Glenn Jones (Texas Institue of
Oceanography, BBC interview):
“It’s amazing to think of raising the Black
Sea basin by 140 m. What that means, if
you calculate how much water went into
the Black Sea, it would be equivalent to
lowering the world’s oceans by
approximately one foot.”
Black Sea expanded in bredth
due to the Flood
• Overall, there was a ~30% expansion in
the size of the Black Sea, leaving it with its
modern day configuration.
The Flood caused a 30%
expansion of the Black Sea
Anoxic bottom water
• The dense Mediterranean salt water sank
to the bottom of the freshwater lake.
• Ever since (the flood occurred), the less
dense water on top has acted as a 150m
lid on a 2125m deep oxygen-free abyss.
• If shipwrecks lie at the bottom, they could
be preserved in recognizable condition.
Mussel Shells dated
• In order to do a test, mussel shells were
pulled from core samples of the deepest
sediments of the Black Sea.
• Carbon 14 dating of such shells from
across the bredth of the Black Sea, would
show whether the shells were of the same
age. (If so, this would be support the
“instantaneous flood” interpretation.)
Confirmed: Flood occurred over a
short time span
• Amazingly, the carbon 14 dating showed
that the mussel shells from across the
Black Sea transect were all pretty much
the same age: about (7500-7600) yrs old.
• This indicated that the flooding took place
over a short time period - on a geological
time scale. (Some term it “instantaneous”.)
Shoreline of Black Sea increased
500 feet
• Seismic soundings and sediment cores
reveal traces of the Black Sea’s former
shoreline, showing a 500 foot rise in water
level.
Ryan (1997) Salinity profiles
Ballard finds old shoreline,
confirming Ryan
• Marine archaeologist Robert Ballard, in a
separate investigation of the Black Sea
Flood, identified ancient shorelines,
freshwater snail shells, drowned valleys
and man made structures. Ballard’s
research of the Black Sea, found a
previous shoreline, ~450 feet below
present water level, supporting Ryan’s
contention.
• In 1999, Ballard used sonar to seek traces
of human settlement in the Black Sea.
• In so doing, he captured the first sonar
images of a gentle berm and a sandbar
submerged for thousands of years on the
sea floor.
• Ryan’s coring samples showed the same
abrupt transition from lake to sea that
Ballard confirmed with his dredging.
Ryan suggests the Flood may have
been the source of Noah’s story
• Ryan suggested that the flood he found,
may have been the source of the well
known story of Noah’s Flood, initially
passed down by word of mouth from
generation to generation.
• Ryan’s flood was local to the Black Sea,
and not a global one, and this is one of the
points of contention.
Migration
• Ryan also proposed that the flood may
have triggered massive migrations of
people from the Black Sea region, to
destinations as far away as Egypt, western
Europe and central Asia.
People fled, and dispersed, in their
escape
• Pitman: “We think it (the Flood event) had
a great effect on human history, because it
widely dispersed people who had different
methods of farming and had different
languages.”
Migration spreads
• The change from hunter-gatherer societies
to farming communities in Europe at
approximately 6th millenium BC, may have
been catalyzed by this great migration to
escape the Flood.
• The change from hunter-gatherer societies
to farming communities in Europe at
approximately 6th millenium BC, may have
been catalyzed by this great migration to
escape the Flood.
Summary
• Ryan found evidence of a massive
flooding event at the Black Sea (5600 BC)
• Carbon 14 dating of mussel shells indicate
the ls from across the bredth of the Black
Sea, would show whether the shells were
of the same age. (If so, this would be
support the “instantaneous flood”
interpretation
Bosporous Strait
Ryan Land
Ryan Land
Ryan (1997)
•
• Ryan suggested that prior to flood, the
Black Sea was an isolated freshwater lake
surrounded by farmland and many
dwellers (inhabitants).
• During the flood, seawater pushed
northward and water funnelled through the
Bosporous Strait, and (by Ryan’s
estimate) exploded into the Black Sea.
Shells of mussels
• Using radiocarbon dating techniques,
analysts have shown that the remains of
freshwater mollusks dredged from an
ancient beach in the depths of the Black
Sea, date back to 7500 years ago, and
also saltwater species dating from 6900
years ago.
Summary Carbon 14 dating of
mussel shells
Carbon 14 dating of shells of freshwater
mussles (found in sediment core
investigation), compared with shells of
mussles and plankton that lived in salty
waters, indicated an abrupt transition from
freshwater to saline water composition in
in the Black Sea (within 40 years).
Evidence: Radiocarbon dating
Carbon 14 dating of shells of freshwater
mussles (found in sediment core
investigation), compared with shells of
mussles and plankton that lived in salty
waters, indicated an abrupt transition from
freshwater to saline water composition in
in the Black Sea (within 40 years).
Key Question
• The key question to be addressed, in
assessing Ryan’s claim was whether the
water level of the Black Sea changed
gradually or within a very short period of
time (a few years).
Mediterranean-Agean-Black
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