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 a torrent 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 raised 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 constrain and 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 reinterpreted.

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 generated when submerged lands were raised, displacing the water, which overflowed neighboring areas. 

The changes in the earth's crust when the land was still partly submerged caused the series 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. 505-541.

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 596, 1-52.

Emiliani, C., Roooth, C., Stripp, J.J., 1975. The late wisconsin flood into the Gulf of Mexico. Earth and Planetary Sciences Letters 49: 159–162.

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 glacier 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 21: 1442–1459.

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. 135-137.

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 101: 1011-1020.

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: 348–350.

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: 3–10.

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 111: 199–216.

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 19: 959-980.

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 Washington)

Clarke, G.K.C., 2002. Hydraulics of supraglacial outburst floods. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Abstracts, F303.

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 21: 879-887.

Fisher, T.G., Smith, D.G., Andrews, J.T., 2002. Preboreal oscillation caused by a glacial Lake Agassiz flood. Quaternary Science Reviews 21 (2002) 873-878

Fisher, T.G., Taylor, L.D., 2002. Stratigraphic evidence for subglacial flooding, south-central Michigan, USA. Quaternary International, 90 (1): 87-115.

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 and Technology.

Clarke, G.K.C., 2003. Hydraulics of subglacial outburst floods: new insights from the Spring-Hutter formulation. Journal of Glaciology 49: 299-313.

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.




H. Tómasson, CATASTROPHIC FLOODS IN ICELAND. Mars Polar Science 2000

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


Copyright © 2006 by Douglas E. Cox
The Creation Concept | Controversy About the Glacial Theory