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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 12/1/1999

Volcanoes and the Flood

There he was, old father Noah, rocking in his chair and whittling a left-over piece of gopher wood. Drip. Drip. Drip. The rain began to fall. "Shem, Ham, Japheth," he called, "let’s get in the boat." So Mr. and Mrs. Noah, their three sons and their wives, moseyed on to the ark with the animals. The waters lapped gently at the bottom of the boat as God shut the door….

Sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? The beginnings of a family vacation, maybe? A year-long pleasure cruise, perhaps? Was this how the Flood started? No, definitely not!

Moses tells us that God broke up the fountains of the deep and threw open the windows of heaven (Genesis 7:11). These are dramatic words. They tell us that the flood waters came from two places: the ocean below ("the great deep"), and the sky above ("heaven"). The last part is pretty obvious. But what about those fountains of the deep? Some scientists think this must be talking about violent volcanic activity. We know this goes on at the bottom of the sea, as well as on land. Perhaps the Flood started with submarine geysers, hot springs, and volcanoes.

Often, when we think of volcanic eruptions, we think of ash and molten lava. But a lot of what comes out of volcanoes is in the form of gas, including clouds of steam. If you added up all the water that has ever come out of volcanoes, it would equal the amount of water in the oceans today.

Volcanic activity might have added to the Flood in other ways. It would have heated up the ocean water. Warm water evaporates easily, and raindrops like to form around tiny particles (such as the ash grains from volcanic eruptions). These two things together—more evaporation and dirty air—might have produced a lot of rainfall. Finally, hot rock takes up more space than cold rock. So if the ocean crust was hot, it would have forced water on to the land.

The Flood was no picnic, but God protected Noah and his family in the ark. Imagine how foolish, and how scared, the other people must have felt. One day, the whole world will be destroyed, but we will be safe as long as we do not ignore God’s message of salvation (1 Peter 3:18-22).

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