*Dr. Andrew Snelling is the Director of Research at Answers in Genesis and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Answers Research Journal. He holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney, Australia.
If the Genesis Flood really occurred, what evidence would we look for? We read in Genesis 7 and 8 that “the fountains of the great deep” were broken up and poured out water from inside the earth for 150 days (5 months). Plus, it rained torrentially and globally for 40 days and nights. (“The floodgates [or windows] of heaven were opened.”) No wonder all the high hills and the mountains were covered, meaning the earth was covered by a global ocean. (“The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished,” 2 Peter 3:6.) All air-breathing life on the land was swept away and perished.
Wouldn’t we expect to find billions of dead plants and animals buried and fossilized in sand, mud, and lime that were deposited rapidly by water in rock layers all over the earth? Of course! That’s exactly what we find. Indeed, based on the biblical description of the Flood, here are six geologic evidences that testify to its historicity.
Evidence #1: Fossils of Sea Creatures High Above Sea Level
On every continent we find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers which today are high above sea level. For example, most of the rock layers in the walls of Grand Canyon contain marine fossils. This includes the Kaibab Limestone at the top of the strata sequence exposed at the rim of the Canyon, which today is 7,000–8,000 feet above sea level. This limestone was therefore deposited beneath lime-sediment-charged ocean waters which swept over northern Arizona (and beyond).
Other rock layers of Grand Canyon also contain large numbers of marine fossils. The best example is the Redwall Limestone, which commonly contains fossil brachiopods (a type of clam), corals, bryozoans (lace corals), crinoids (sea-lilies), bivalves (other types of clams), gastropods (marine snails), trilobites, cephalopods, and even fish teeth. These marine fossils are found haphazardly preserved in this limestone bed. Thus, these marine creatures were catastrophically destroyed and buried by the deposition of this lime sediment layer.
Fossil ammonites (coiled marine gastropods) are also found in limestone beds high in the Himalayas, reaching up to 30,000 feet above sea level. All geologists agree that these marine fossils must have been buried in these limestone beds when the latter were deposited by ocean waters, and then the Himalayas were pushed up. So how did these marine limestone beds get pushed up so high in the Himalayas?
There is only one possible explanation—the ocean waters at some time in the past flooded over the continents. Could the continents have then sunk below today’s sea level, so that the ocean waters flooded over them? No! Because the continents are made up of rocks that are less dense (lighter) than both the ocean floor rocks and the mantle rocks beneath the continents. The continents, in fact, have an automatic tendency to rise, and thus “float” on the mantle rocks beneath, well above the level of the ocean floor rocks. This is why the continents today have such high elevations compared to the deep ocean floor, and why the ocean basins can accommodate so much water.
Rather, the sea level had to rise, so that the ocean waters then flooded up onto, and over, the continents. What would have caused that to happen? There were two mechanisms that caused this.
First, the volume of water in the ocean was increased, so sea level rose. In Genesis 7:11 we read that at the initiation of the Flood all the fountains of the great deep were broken up. In other words, the earth’s crust was cleaved open all around the globe and water burst forth from inside the earth. We then read in Genesis 7:24–8:2 that these fountains were open for 150 days. No wonder the ocean waters flooded up onto and over the continents.
Second, if the ocean floor itself rose, it would then have effectively “pushed” up the sea level. The catastrophic breakup of the earth’s crust, referred to in Genesis 7:11, would not only have released huge volumes of water from inside the earth, but much molten rock. The ocean floors would have been effectively replaced by hot lavas. Being less dense than the original ocean floors, these hot lavas would have had an expanded thickness, so the new ocean floors would have risen, raising the sea level by up to more than 3,500 feet. When the ocean floors cooled and sank, the sea level would have fallen and the waters would have drained off the continents into new, deeper ocean basins.
Evidence #2: Rapid Burial of Plants and Animals
Countless billions of plant and animal fossils are found in extensive “graveyards” where they had to be buried rapidly on a massive scale. Often the fine details of the creatures are exquisitely preserved.
For example, billions of straight-shelled, chambered nautiloids are found fossilized with other marine creatures in a 7 feet (2 m) thick layer within the Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon. This fossil graveyard stretches for 180 miles (290 km) across northern Arizona and into southern Nevada, covering an area of at least 10,500 square miles (30,000 km2). These squid-like fossils are all different sizes, from small, young nautiloids to their bigger, older relatives. To form such a vast fossil graveyard required 24 cubic miles (100 km3) of lime sand and silt, flowing in a thick-soup-like slurry at more than 16 feet (5 m) per second (more than 11 miles or 18 km per hour) to catastrophically overwhelm and bury this huge, living population of nautiloids.
Hundreds of thousands of marine creatures were buried with amphibians, spiders, scorpions, millipedes, insects, and reptiles in a fossil graveyard at Montceau-les-Mines, France.
At Florissant, Colorado, a wide variety of insects, freshwater mollusks, fish, birds, and several hundred plant species (including nuts and blossoms) are buried together. Wasps and birds have to be buried rapidly in order to be so well preserved.
Alligator, fish (including sunfish, deep sea bass, chubs, pickerel, herring, and gar-pike 3–7 feet [1–2 m] long), birds, turtles, mammals, mollusks, crustaceans, many varieties of insects, and palm leaves (7–9 feet [2–2.5 m] long) were buried together in the vast Green River Formation of Wyoming.
In these examples marine and land-dwelling creatures are found buried together. How could this have happened unless the ocean waters rose and swept over the continents in a global, catastrophic Flood?
Many trillions of microscopic marine creatures had to have catastrophically buried large ammonites and other marine creatures in the chalk beds of Britain. These same beds also stretch right across Europe to the Middle East, as well as into the Midwest of the USA, forming a global-scale fossil graveyard. In Kansas the chalk also has buried in it a huge fish with an undigested fish in its stomach, huge pliosaurs, dinosaurs and birds – again, a mixture of ocean, land and air-dwelling animals buried together!
Such was the speed at which many creatures were buried and fossilized—under catastrophic flood conditions—that they were exquisitely preserved. There was no destruction of many fish, which were buried so rapidly, virtually alive, that even fine details of fins and eye sockets have been preserved. Many trilobites have been so exquisitely preserved that even the compound lens systems in their eyes are still available for detailed study.
Some sea creatures were buried alive and fossilized so quickly that they were “caught in the act” of eating their last meal or at the moment of giving birth to a baby! One minute a huge ichthyosaur had just given birth to her baby, then seconds later, without time to escape, mother and baby were buried and “snap frozen” in a catastrophic “avalanche” of lime mud.
These are but a few examples of the many hundreds of well-documented fossil graveyards found all over the globe. The countless billions of fossils in these graveyards, in many cases exquisitely preserved, testify to the rapid burial of plants and animals on a global scale in a watery cataclysm and its immediate aftermath.
Evidence #3: Rapidly-Deposited Sediment Layers Spread Across Vast Areas
On every continent are found layers of sedimentary rocks over vast areas, like a stack of huge pancakes! Many of these can be traced all the way across continents, and even between continents. Furthermore, geologists find evidence that the sediments were deposited rapidly.
For example, the sedimentary rock layers exposed in the walls of Grand Canyon belong to six megasequences (very thick, distinctive sequences of sedimentary rock layers) that can be traced right across North America, and to other continents.
The lowest of Grand Canyon’s sedimentary layers is the Tapeats Sandstone. It and its equivalents cover much of the USA, and beyond. What forces were necessary to deposit such vast, continent-wide sand layers? At the base of this sandstone are huge boulders, and its sand beds were deposited by storms. Thus, massive forces deposited these layers rapidly and violently right across the entire USA. Present-day slow-and-gradual processes cannot account for this evidence, but the Genesis Flood surely can!
Equivalents of the Grand Canyon’s Redwall Limestone appear in many places across North America, as far as Tennessee and Pennsylvania. These limestones also appear in the exact same position in the strata sequences, and they have the exact same fossils and other features in them. What is even more remarkable is that the same limestone beds also appear in England and across Europe to the Himalayas, again containing the same fossils and other features.
The Cretaceous chalk beds of southern England appear as spectacular white cliffs along the coast. The same chalk beds can be traced across England and appear again in Northern Ireland. In the opposite direction, these same chalk beds can be traced across France, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, southern Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe to Turkey, then to Israel and Egypt in the Middle East, and even as far as Kazakhstan. The same chalk beds with the same fossils in them, and with the same distinctive strata above and below them, are also found in the Midwest USA, from Nebraska in the north to Texas in the south, and in the Perth Basin of Western Australia.
Consider another feature—coal beds. In the northern hemisphere, the Pennsylvanian coal beds of the eastern and Midwest USA are the same coal beds, with the same plant fossils, in Britain and Europe, stretching half-way around the globe, from Texas to the Donetz Basin north of the Caspian Sea in Russia. In the southern hemisphere, the Permian coal beds are found in Australia, Antarctica, India, South Africa, and even South America! These beds share the same kind of plant fossils across that region.
Vast sediment layers that spread across continents are evidence that water covered the continents in the past. Even more dramatic are the fossil-bearing sediment layers that were deposited rapidly right across many or most of the continents at the same time. To catastrophically deposit such extensive sediment layers implies global flooding of the continents. And these are only a few examples.
Evidence #4: Rapid or No Erosion Between Strata
If the fossil-bearing layers took hundreds of millions of years to accumulate, then we would expect to find many examples of weathering and erosion on the tops of successively-deposited layers. The boundaries between many sedimentary strata should be broken by lots of topographic relief with weathered surfaces. After all, shouldn’t periods of weathering and erosion for millions of years follow each deposition?
On the other hand, in the cataclysmic global Flood most of the fossil-bearing layers would have accumulated in just over one year. Under such catastrophic conditions, even if land surfaces were briefly exposed to erosion, such erosion would have been rapid and widespread, leaving behind flat and smooth surfaces. The erosion would not create the localized topographic relief (hills and valleys) we see forming at today’s snail’s pace. So, if the Genesis Flood caused the fossil-bearing geologic record, then we would only expect evidence of rapid or no erosion at the boundaries between sedimentary strata.
At the boundaries between some sedimentary layers, we do find evidence of only rapid erosion. But in most other cases, the boundaries are flat, featureless, and knife-edge, with absolutely no evidence of any erosion, as would be expected during the Genesis Flood.
Grand Canyon offers numerous examples of strata boundaries that are consistent with deposition during the Genesis Flood.
The strata below the Tapeats Sandstone have been rapidly eroded and then extensively scraped flat. This erosion occurred on a global scale. We don’t see any evidence of weathering or soils. And then we find boulders and storm beds in the Tapeats Sandstone above the boundary. Storm beds are sheets of sand with unique internal features only produced by storms, such as hurricanes. Boulders and storm beds aren’t deposited slowly.
The boundary between the Hermit Formation and the Esplanade Sandstone is often cited as evidence of erosion that occurred over millions of years after sediments had stopped building up. However, in places, the Hermit Formation’s silty shales are intermingled (intertongued) with the Esplanade Sandstone, indicating that a continuous flow of water carried both silty mud and quartz sand into place. Thus, there were no millions of years between these layers.
The boundary between the Coconino Sandstone and the Hermit Formation is flat, featureless, and knife-edge from one end of Grand Canyon to the other. There is absolutely no evidence of any erosion on the Hermit Formation before the Coconino Sandstone was deposited. Yet conventionally there is supposed to be 5-10 million years missing at that boundary.
The fossil-bearing portion of the geologic record consists of thousands of feet of sedimentary layers, of which about 4,500 feet are exposed in the walls of Grand Canyon. If this enormous thickness of sediments were deposited over 500 or more million years, then some boundaries between layers should show evidence of millions of years of slow erosion just as slow erosion is occurring on land surfaces today. On the other hand, if this enormous thickness of sediments were all deposited in just over a year during the global cataclysmic Genesis Flood, then the boundaries between the layers should show evidence of continuous rapid deposition, with only occasional evidence of rapid erosion, or of no erosion at all. And that’s exactly what we find, as illustrated by these strata boundaries in Grand Canyon.
Evidence #5: Missing Time Between Fossilized Tracks and Fossils of the Animals that Made Them
Often we find fossilized the tracks and trails of reptiles, including dinosaurs, mammals and birds preserved in sedimentary layers well below the layers in which the bodies of the animals that made the tracks are found fossilized. Conventionally there can be from 5-30 or more million years between the fossilized tracks and the fossilized animals.
This does not make sense in conventional time. Why weren’t the track-making animals buried and fossilized close to where they made their tracks?
However, during the Flood it makes perfect sense. The animals left their tracks on temporarily exposed sediment surfaces before the animals were swept away in the next surge of the Flood waters that carried in and deposited the sediments to cover and preserve those tracks. Then days later the track-making animals perished and were buried and preserved in subsequent sedimentary layers.
Evidence #6: Many Strata Laid Down in Rapid Succession
The sedimentary layers in Grand Canyon are claimed to have been deposited over the past 500 million years. If it really did take millions of years for these sedimentary sequences to be deposited, then individual sediment layers would not have been deposited rapidly, nor would the sequences have been laid down continuously. In contrast, if the Genesis Flood deposited all these strata in a little more than a year, then the individual layers would have been deposited in rapid succession.
Do we see evidence in the walls of the Grand Canyon that the sedimentary layers were all laid down in quick succession? Yes, absolutely! The entire sequence of sedimentary strata was still soft during subsequent folding and experienced only limited fracturing. These rock layers would have broken and shattered unless all the strata were immediately folded while the sediment was still relatively soft and pliable.
When solid, hard rock is bent (or folded) it invariably fractures and breaks because it is brittle. Rock will bend only if it is still soft and pliable — “plastic” like modeling clay or play-dough. If such modeling clay is allowed to dry and/or is baked in an oven, it is no longer pliable but hard and brittle, so any attempt to bend it will cause it to break and shatter.
When sediments are deposited by water in a layer, some water is trapped between the sediment grains. The pressure of other sediment layers on top of each layer squeezes the particles closer together and forces out much of the water. The internal heat of the earth may also cause additional dehydration of the sediments. Removal of the water dries the sediment layer and converts the chemicals that were in the water into a natural cement. This cement transforms the originally soft and wet sediment layer into hard, brittle rock.
This process is known to occur within hours but generally takes days or months, depending on the prevailing conditions. It doesn’t take millions of years, even under today’s slow-and-gradual geologic conditions.
The 4,500-foot sequence of sedimentary layers in the walls of Grand Canyon stands well above today’s sea level. Earth movements in the past pushed up this sedimentary sequence to form the Kaibab Plateau. However, the eastern portion of the sequence (in the eastern Grand Canyon) was not pushed up as much and is about 2,500 feet lower than the height of the Kaibab Plateau. The boundary between the Kaibab Plateau and the less uplifted eastern canyons is marked by a large step-like fold, producing what is called the East Kaibab Monocline.
It’s possible to see these folded sedimentary layers in several side canyons. For example, the folded Tapeats Sandstone can be seen in Carbon Canyon. There these sandstone layers were bent 90° (a right angle), yet the rock was not fractured or broken in the fold hinge. The obvious conclusion is that these sandstone layers were folded and bent while the sediment was still soft and pliable, which had to be very soon after it was deposited.
Herein lies an insurmountable dilemma for long-age geologists. They maintain that the Tapeats Sandstone was deposited 507–508 million years ago. However, the Kaibab Plateau uplift which caused the folding supposedly only occurred about 50-60 million years ago. How could the Tapeats Sandstone still be soft and pliable, as though it had just been deposited, and not subjected yet to hardening, without fracturing and shattering when it was folded ~450 million years after its deposition?
The conventional explanation is that under the pressure and heat of burial, the hardened sandstone layers were bent so slowly they behaved as though they were plastic and thus did not break. However, pressure and heat would have caused detectable changes in the minerals of these rocks, tell-tale signs of metamorphism. But such metamorphic minerals or re-crystallization due to such plastic behavior is not observed in these rocks. The sandstone in the fold is identical to the same sandstone layers elsewhere.
The only logical conclusion is that the 450-million year delay between deposition and folding never happened! Instead, the Tapeats Sandstone was laid down rapidly early during the year of the Genesis Flood, followed by uplift of the Kaibab Plateau at the end of the Flood. This alone explains the folding of the whole strata sequence without appreciable fracturing.
When we accept God’s eyewitness account of the Flood in Genesis 7–8 as an actual event in earth history, then we find that the geologic evidence is absolutely in harmony with the Word of God. As the ocean waters flooded over the continents, they buried plants and animals in sediment layers in rapid succession. These rapidly-deposited sediment layers were spread across vast areas, preserving fossils of sea creatures in layers that are high above the current sea level. The sediments in these layers were transported long distances from their original sources. And many of these sedimentary strata were laid down in rapid succession because we don’t find evidence of slow erosion between the strata.
Jesus Christ our Creator (John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:16–17), who is the Truth and would never tell us a lie, said that during the “days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26–27) “Noah entered the Ark” and “the Flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:38–39). He spoke of these events as real, literal history, describing a global Flood that destroyed all land life not on the Ark. Therefore, we must believe what He told us, rather than believe the ideas of fallible scientists who weren’t there to see what happened in the earth’s past. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised when the geologic evidence in God’s world (rightly understood by asking the right questions) agrees exactly with God’s Word, affirmed by Jesus Christ.