Have geologists found evidence for a flood?
In North America there are indications that the land
has emerged from the sea, not many thousands of years ago. As the land
emerged, shorelines were raised above their former levels, and as the
land was raised, the crustal movements tilted the previously formed
strand lines by progressively smaller amounts. As a result of the
tectonic events and the erosion by currents generated by uplift of
submerged land, inland
seas or lakes were formed, valleys and spillways were eroded, and
fjords were carved in coastal regions as
currents flowed off the land. Many other features indicate brief
episodes of catastrophic flooding in various places.
Erosional features such as rock basins and spillways are typical
effects of powerful currents. Lag boulders transported some distance by
and deposited when currents reached deeper water as their energy was
dispersed provide evidence of the power of those currents.
The former currents and inland seas do not have to be associated with
former continental glaciation. But geologists have assumed most of the
shorelines are those of former lakes of
accumulated meltwater from an ice sheet. These former "lakes" have each
been assigned names, and
their boundaries have been mapped. Where the shorelines terminate
an ice sheet boundary or former glacier lobe is postulated, to
dam up the
water. Where spillways indicate former current action, it is thought to
have been caused by breakage of the former ice dam.
The author's in situ
interpretation of the drift suggests many of the catastrophic events
previously identified by geologists may be connected. It explains the
formation of drift without invoking continental glaciation. According
to this interpretation, the drift was formed by a disintegration
process during unloading that accompanied rapid erosion of overburden.
Since this dispenses with the supposed evidence of glaciation, it
implies there was no ice age, no former continental ice sheet to
melt, and no ice dams. The features indicating the presence of former
seas, and lakes, and catastrophic current flows need to be
The basic reason so much evidence of former catastrophic events exists
is that the northern part of the continent was submerged. This is a
unifying concept that
explains a lot of data. The land emerged from the sea, and the
strandlines are the former coasts. The continent did not have its
present elevation when
the high shorelines were formed. Since many strand lines are
not horizontal, tectonic movements since they were made have warped the
earth's crust, as it was raised above its former level. Currents were
submerged lands were raised, displacing the water, which overflowed
The changes in the
earth's crust when the land was still partly submerged caused the
of progressively lower strand lines in northern latitudes. The evidence
suggests uplift of the continent involved a large number of
local crustal movements, separated by periods of quiet, allowing
forests to grow, that were sometimes destroyed by flooding or by burial
during volcanic eruptions. Prominent beaches, bluffs, and gravel bars
were developed during these quiet periods. Subsidence in central areas
of the continent, for example in basins such as the
Michigan Basin and the area of Hudson Bay, and elevation of mountains
in the east and west, and the higher elevation of the Canadian Shield
in the north and northeast may have resulted in
temporary raised basins, with trapped sea water. The inland seas
spilled out their contents during subsequent crustal movements.
Much of the published research on former glacial lakes and the
catastrophic events connected with their draining can be understood in
terms of the emergence of the land from the sea. The following is a
list of references to papers and links to web sites that describe
evidence for ancient floods, that in the end, may turn out to be
evidence for uplift of land from the sea.
Hall, J., 1815. On the revolutions of the earth’s surface. Transactions
of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 7: 169–212.
Gilbert, G.K., 1890, Lake Bonneville: U.S. Geological Survey Monograph
1, 438 p.
Bretz, J H., 1925, The Spokane flood beyond the channeled scablands:
Journal of Geology, v. 33, nos. 2-3, p. 97-115, 236-259.
Bretz, J H., 1929, Valley deposits immediately east of the Channeled
Scabland of Washington - II: Journal of Geology, v. 37, no. 6, p.
Bretz, J H., 1930, Valley deposits immediately west of the Channeled
Scabland: Journal of Geology, v. 38, no. 5, p. 385-422.
Bretz, J H., 1959, Washington’s Channeled Scabland: Washington Division
of Mines and Geology Bulletin 45, 57 p., 4 plates.
Stearns, Harold T., 1962, Evidence of Lake Bonneville Flood along Snake
River below King Hill, Idaho: Geological Society of America Bulletin,
v.73, p. 385-388.
Bretz, J H., 1969, The Lake Missoula floods and the Channeled Scabland:
Journal of Geology, v. 77, no. 5, p. 505-543.
Malde, H.E. 1968. The catastrophic late Pleistocene Bonneville Flood in
the Snake River Plain, Idaho, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper
Emiliani, C., Roooth, C., Stripp, J.J., 1975. The late wisconsin flood
into the Gulf of Mexico. Earth and Planetary Sciences Letters 49:
Waitt, R.B., Jr., 1980, About forty last-glacial Lake Missoula
jökulhlaups through southern Washington: Journal of Geology, v.
88, no. 6, p. 653-679.
Baker, V. R., 1981, Catastrophic flooding; The origin of the Channeled
Scabland. Benchmark Papers in Geology, v. 55. Stroudsburg, PA: Dowden,
Hutchinson & Ross, p. 126-127.
Clarke, G.K.C., Mathews, W.H., 1981. Estimates of the magnitude of
outburst floods from Lake Donjek, Yukon Territory, Canada. Canadian
Journal of Earth Sciences 18, 1452-1463.
Clarke, G.K.C., 1982. Glacier outburst floods from ‘‘Hazard Lake’’,
Yukon Territory, and the problem of flood magnitude prediction. Journal
of Glaciology 24, 3-21.
Kehew, A.E., 1982. Catastrophic flood hypothesis for the origin of the
Souris spillway, Saskatchewan and North Dakota. Geological Society of
America Bulletin 93, 1051-1058.
Shaw, J., 1983. Drumlin formation related to inverted meltwater
erosional marks. Journal of Glaciology 29: 461–479.
Waitt, R. B., Jr., 1983, Tens of successive, colossal Missoula floods
at north and east margins of Channeled Scabland: U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 83-671, 23 p.
Shaw, J., Kvill, D., 1984. A glaciofluvial origin for drumlins of the
livingstone Lake Area, Saskatchewan. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Baker, V. R., and Bunker, R. C., 1985, Cataclysmic late Pleistocene
flooding from glacial Lake Missoula; A review: Quaternary Science
Reviews, v. 4, n. 1, p. 1-41.
Shaw, J. and D.R. Sharpe, 1987. Drumlin formation by subglacial
meltwater erosion; Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 24: 2316-2322.
Shaw, J. and Sharpe, D. 1987. Drumlins and erosion marks in southern
Ontario. XIIth INQUA Congress Field Excursion C-25, National
Research Council Canada.
Teller, J.T., 1987. Proglacial lakes and the southern margin of the
Laurentide Ice Sheet. In: Ruddiman, W.F., Wright Jr., H.E. (Eds.),
North America and Adjacent Oceans during the Last Glaciation.
Geological Society of America, The Geology of North America, Volume
K-3, pp. 39-69.
Malde, Harold E., 1987, Shoshone Falls, Idaho; A Pleistocene relic of
the catastrophic Bonneville flood, in Bues, S.S., ed., Geological
Society of America Centennial Field Guide, Rocky Mountain Section, p.
Schick, A.P., and Lekach, J., 1987, A high magnitude flood in the Sinai
Desert: Binghamton Symposia in Geomorphology, v. 18, p. 382-410.
Shaw, P., 1988, After the flood; the fluivo-lacustrine landforms of
northern Botswana: Earth-Science Reviews, 25 (5-6): 449-456.
Shaw, J., 1988. Subglacial erosional marks, Wilton Creek, Ontario,
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 25: 1256-1267.
Sharpe, D.R., and J. Shaw, 1989. Erosion of bedrock by subglacial
meltwater, Cantley, Quebec, Geological Society of America Bulletin
Shaw, J., K. Kvill, and B. Rains, 1989. Drumlins and catastrophic
subglacial floods, Sedimentary Geology 62:177-202.
Shaw, J., 1989. Drumlins, subglacial meltwater floods, and ocean
responses, Geology 17: 853-856.
Monastersky, R., 1989. Hills point to catastrophic ice age floods.
Science News, Sept 30, 1989.
Shaw, J., and R. Gilbert, 1990. Evidence for large-scale subglacial
meltwater flood events in southern Ontario and northern New York state,
Geology 18: 1169-1172.
Teller, J.T., 1990. Volume and routing of late-glacial runoff from the
southern Laurentide ice sheet. Quaternary Research 34: 12-23.
Shoemaker, E.M., 1991. On the formation of subglacial lakes; Canadian
Journal of Earth Sciences 28: 1975-1981.
Kor, P.S.G., Shaw, J., Sharpe, D.R., 1991. Erosion of bedrock by
subglacial meltwater, Georgian Bay, Ontario: a regional view. Canadian
Journal of Earth Sciences 28, 623–642.
Longva, O., and Thoresen, M.K., 1991. Iceberg scours, iceberg gravity
craters and current erosion marks from a gigantic Proboreal flood in
southeastern Norway: Borea, 20 (1): 47-62.
Mueller, E.H., and D.L. Pair (1992). Comment on "Evidence for
large-scale subglacial meltwater flood events in southern Ontario and
northern New York State," (for reference to original see Geology
18:p.1169, 1990) Geology 20, 90-91.
Shoemaker, E.M., 1992. Water sheet outburst floods from the Laurentide
ice sheet, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 29: 1250-1264.
Shoemaker, E.M., 1992. Subglacial floods and the origin of low-relief
ice-sheet lobes, Journal of Glaciology 38 (128): 105-112.
Enzel, Y., Brown, W.J., Anderson, R.Y., McFadden, L.D., and Wells,
S.G., 1992, Short-Duration Holocene Lakes in the Mojave River Drainage
Basin, Southern California: Quaternary Research, v. 38, p. 60-73.
O’Connor, J.E., Baker, V.R., 1992. Magnitudes and implications of peak
discharge from glacial Lake Missoula. Geological Society of America
Bulletin 104, 267–279.
Fisher, T.G., Shaw, J., 1992. A depositional model for Rogen moraine,
with examples from the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland. Canadian Journal
of Earth Sciences 29: 669–686.
Baker, V.R., Benito, G., Rudoy, A.N., 1993. Paleohydrology of late
Pleistocene superflooding, Altay, Mountains, Siberia. Science 259:
O'Connor, J. E., 1993, Hydrology, hydraulics, and geomorphology of the
Bonneville flood: Geological Society of America, 274.
Rathburn, S. L., 1993, Pleistocene cataclysmic flooding along the Big
Lost River, east central Idaho: Geomorphology, 8 (4): 305-319.
Smith, D. G., and Fisher, T. G., 1993, Glacial Lake Agassiz; the
northwestern outlet and paleoflood: Geology, 21 (1): 9-12.
Rains, B., J. Shaw, R. Skoye, D. Sjogren, and D. Kvill, 1993. Late
Wisconsin subglacial megaflood paths in Alberta, Geology 21: 323-326.
Enzel, Y., Ely, L. L., Martinez-Goytre, J., and Vivian, R. G., 1994,
Paleofloods and a dam-failure flood on the Virgin River, Utah and
Arizona: Journal of Hydrology, v. 153, no. 1-4, p. 291-315.
Walder, J.S., 1994. Comments on ‘‘Subglacial floods and the origin of
low-relief ice-sheet lobes’’. Journal of Glaciology 40, 199–200.
Shoemaker, E.M., 1994. Reply to comments on ‘Subglacial floods and the
origins of low-relief ice-sheet lobes’ by J.S. Walder. Journal of
Glaciology 40, 201–202.
Fisher, T.G., Spooner, I., 1994. Subglacial meltwater origin and
subaerial meltwater modification of drumlins near Morley, Alberta,
Canada. Sedimentary Geology 91: 285–298.
Gilbert, R., and J. Shaw, 1994. Inferred subglacial meltwater origin of
lakes on the southern border of the Canadian shield, Canadian Journal
of Earth Sciences 31: 1630-1637.
Shaw, J., 1994. Hairpin erosional marks, horseshoe vortices and
subglacial erosion. Sedimentary Geology 91, 269–283.
Shoemaker, E.M., 1995. On the meltwater genesis of drumlins. Boreas 24:
Sjogren, D.B., and R.B. Rains, 1995. Glaciofluvial erosional morphology
and sediments of the Coronation-Spondin Scabland, east-central Alberta,
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 32:565-578.
Brennand, T.A., Shaw, J., Sharpe, D.R., 1995. Regional-scale meltwater
erosion and deposition patterns, northern Quebec, Canada. Annals of
Glaciology 22, 85–92.
Pollard, A., Wakarani, N., Shaw, J., 1996. Genesis and morphology of
erosional shapes associated with turbulent flow over a
forward facing step. In: Ashworth, P.J., Bennet, S.J., Best, J.L.,
McLelland, S.J. (Eds.), Coherent Flow Structures in Open Channels.
Wiley, New York, pp. 249-265.
Shaw, J., B. Rains, R. Eyton, and L. Weissling, 1996. Laurentide
subglacial outburst floods: Landform evidence from digital elevation
models, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 33:226.
Shaw, J., 1996. A meltwater model for Laurentide subglacial landscapes;
in: Geomorphology Sans Frontière,. S.B. McCann (Ed.), John Wiley
& Sons, New York, pp. 181-236.
Brennand, T.A., J. Shaw, and D.R. Sharpe, 1996. Regional-scale
meltwater erosion and deposition patterns, northern Quebec, Canada,
Annals of Glaciology 22: 85-92.
Lewis, C.F.M., Blasco, S.M., Cameron, G.D.M., King, E.L., Mayer, L.A.,
Shaw, J., Todd, B.J., 1996. Were the Ontario and Erie basins swept by
catastrophic meltwater flooding? Geological Society of America,
Abstracts with Programs, Northeastern Section, p. 76.
Munro, M.J., Shaw, J., 1997. Erosional origin of hummocky terrain in
south-central Alberta, Canada. Geology 25: 1027-1030.
Pair, D.L., 1997. Thin film, channelized drainage, or sheetfloods
beneath a portion of the Laurentide Ice Sheet: an examination of
glacial erosion forms, northern New York State. Sedimentary Geology
Kor, P.S.G., and D.W. Cowell, 1998. Evidence for catastrophic
subglacial meltwater sheetflood events on the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario,
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 35: 1180-1202.
Fisher, T. G. & Souch, C. 1998: Northwest outlet channels of Lake
Agassiz, isostatic tilting and a migrating continental drainage divide,
Saskatchewan, Canada. Geomorphology 23: 57-73.
Shoemaker, E.M., 1999. Subglacial water-sheet floods, drumlins and
ice-sheet lobes. Journal of Glaciology 45: 201-213.
Munro-Stasiuk, M.J., 1999. Evidence for water storage and drainage at
the base of the Laurentide ice sheet, south-central Alberta, Canada,
Annals of Glaciology 28: 175-180.
Barber, D.C., Dyke, A., Hillaire-Marcel, C., Jennings, A.E., Andrews,
J.T., Kerwin, M.W., Bilodeau, G., McNeely, R., Southon, J., Morehead,
M.D., Gagnon, J.-M., 1999. Forcing of the cold event of 8200 years ago
by catastrophic drainage of Laurentide lakes. Nature 400: 344–348.
Shaw, J., Munro-Stasiuk, M., Sawyer, B., Beaney, C., Lesemann, J.,
Musacchio, A., Rains, B., Young, R. R., 1999. The Channeled Scabland -
Back to Bretz?: Geology, 27 (7): 605-608.
Jaffee, M. A.; Spencer, P. K., 2000, Multiple floods many times over -
The record of glacial outburst floods in southeastern Washington
[abstract]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v.
32, no. 6, p. A-21.
Shaw, J., Faragini, D.M., Kvill, D.R., Rains, R.B., 2000. The Athabasca
flutingfield, Alberta, Canada: implications for the formation of
large-scale fluting (erosional lineations). Quaternary Science Reviews
Rampton, V.N., 2000. Large-scale effects of subglacial meltwater flow
in the southern Slave Province, Northwest territories, Canada. Canadian
Journal of Earth Sciences 37: 81–93.
Beaney, C.L., and J. Shaw, 2000. The subglacial geomorphology of
southeast Alberta: Evidence for subglacial meltwater erosion, Canadian
Journal of Earth Sciences 37: 51-61.
Shaw, J., 2002. The meltwater hypothesis for subglacial bedforms.
Quaternary International 90: 5-22.
Perkins, S. 2002. Once upon a lake: the life, times, and demise of the
world's largest lake - Lake Agassiz. Science News, Nov 2, 2002
Spencer, P.K. and M.A. Jaffee, 2002. Pre-late Wisconsinan glacial
outburst floods in southeastern Washington - The indirect record.
Washington Geology 30 (1/2): 9 July 2002
(This paper describes clastic dikes in the Touchet Beds of Eastern
Clarke, G.K.C., 2002. Hydraulics of supraglacial outburst floods.
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Abstracts,
Rains, R.B., Shaw, J., Sjogren, D.B., Munro-Stasiuk, M.J., Skoye, K.R.,
Young, R.R., Thompson, R.T., 2002. Subglacial tunnel channels,
Porcupine Hills, southwest Alberta, Canada. Quaternary International,
90 (1): 57-65.
Teller, J. T., Leverington, D. W. & Mann, J. D. 2002: Freshwater
outburst to the oceans from glacial Lake Agassiz and their role in
climate change during the last deglaciation. Quaternary Science Reviews
Fisher, T.G., Smith, D.G., Andrews, J.T., 2002. Preboreal oscillation
caused by a glacial Lake Agassiz flood. Quaternary Science Reviews 21
Fisher, T.G., Taylor, L.D., 2002. Stratigraphic evidence for subglacial
flooding, south-central Michigan, USA. Quaternary International, 90
Sjogrena, D. B., Fisher, T. G., Taylor, L. D., Jold, H. M.,
Munro-Stasiuk, M. J., 2002. Incipient tunnel channels; Quaternary
International 90 (2002) 41-56
Bjornstad, B., Fecht, K., 2002. Ice-age floods features in the vicinity
of the Pasco Basin and the Hanford Reach National Monument. Ice-Age
Floods Institute and the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science
Clarke, G.K.C., 2003. Hydraulics of subglacial outburst floods: new
insights from the Spring-Hutter formulation. Journal of Glaciology 49:
Clarke, G., Leverington, D., Teller, J., Dyke, A., 2003. Superlakes,
megafloods, and abrupt climate change. Science 301, 922–923.
Fisher, T. G. 2004: River Warren boulders, Minnesota, USA: catastrophic
paleoflow indicators in the southern spillway of glacial Lake Agassiz.
Boreas 33: 349-358.
Clarke, G.K.C., Leverington, D.W., Teller, J.T., Dyke, A.S., 2004.
Paleohydraulics of the last outburst flood fromglacial Lake Agassiz and
the 8200BP cold event. Quaternary Science Reviews 23, 389–407.
Benn, D.I., Evans, D.J.A., 2005. Subglacial megafloods: outrageous
hypothesis or just outrageous? In: Knight, P.G. (Ed.), Glacier Science
and Environmental Change. Blackwell, Oxford.
Clarke, G.K.C., Leverington, D.W., Teller, J.T., Dyke, A.S., Marshall,
S.J., 2005. Fresh arguments against the Shaw megaflood hypothesis.
Correspondence, Quaternary Science Reviews 24: 1533-1541.
DE SIMONE, David J., 2006. STRANDLINE FEATURES IN THE HUDSON-CHAMPLAIN
REGION REVEAL WATER PLANES WHICH TILT AT 4.0FT/MI
PIPER, D.J.W., ESTIMATES OF TIMING AND MAGNITUDE OF SUBGLACIAL FLOOD
DISCHARGES : LAURENTIAN CHANNEL AND HUDSON STRAIT OUTLETS OF THE
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Franzi, D.A., Rayburn, J.A., Yansa, C.A., Knuepfer, P.L.K., LATE
GLACIAL WATER BODIES IN THE CHAMPLAIN AND ST. LAWRENCE LOWLANDS AND
THEIR PALEOCLIMATIC IMPLICATIONS
H. Tómasson, CATASTROPHIC FLOODS IN ICELAND. Mars Polar Science
Catastrophic Discharge in Lewiston-Clarkston Area: Bonneville or
Missoula Origin? Selective Bibliography
Bjornstad, B. Ice Age Floods Institute
For Ice Age Floods Institute bibliographic index see:
G.K.C. Clarke, D.W. Leverington, J.T. Teller, A.S. Dyke.
Paleohydraulics of the last outburst flood from glacial Lake Agassiz
and the 8200 BP cold event.
Nova programs on megafloods
Suggested References in PALEOHYDROLOGY AND HYDROCLIMATOLOGY
Copyright © 2006
by Douglas E. Cox
the Glacial Theory