This article is from
Creation 46(3):32–35, July 2024

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The Genesis Flood for Kids

The floodwaters recede


Published in Creation 46(3):32–35, 2024

© pattonikonian | 123rf.com, © Archana Bhartia | Dreamstime.com Cartoon Characters & Animals: © Catalyststuff | Freepikmitre-peak

In the previous article, we learned how the Flood covered the whole earth and eventually reached its highest point (zenith). After that, the floodwaters had to come down. But because it was a worldwide Flood with lots of water, it took a long time. In fact, Noah and the other passengers were on the Ark for about a year. Local floods never last a year! But those on the Ark were safe. However, outside the Ark, the waters running off the continents left obvious evidence. The previous article explained that vast amounts of flowing water can carve through rock and even concrete. The receding floodwaters would have also carved rock into distinctive patterns.

How did the water go down?

Generated by Tim Kneipp | Leonardo.aiBible verse_ps104_6-9
Psalm 104:6–9: You covered it [the earth] with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke, they fled; at the sound of your thunder, they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

Genesis 7:17–8:5 explains some of what happened and the timing. After 40 days, God stopped the rain and closed the massive ocean fountains. God also made a wind blow over the worldwide ocean. Thus “the waters receded from the earth continually”. But this phrase suggests that more factors were involved.

If the earth were perfectly smooth and even, the water in today’s oceans would cover it to 3 km (2 miles) deep. So, for water to recede off some of the lands, the surface would need to be less even, with tall mountains and deep oceans. One passage in the Bible might even be talking about this (see right →).

This may be talking about the Flood. If so, it suggests that mountains rose, the valleys sank, and water flowed into those valleys forming today’s oceans.

Giant sheets of water carved flat surfaces

First, the water would flow off in giant moving ‘sheets’ from the high points to the lower. The rock underneath would be eroded flat. We can still see the evidence today. Many mountains and hills have large flat tops. Sometimes the flat surface can be over 1,000 km2, or almost 400 square miles, in area. These are called planation surfaces. A plane is a carpenter’s tool with a blade that flattens and smooths a piece of wood. And the planation surfaces look almost like a giant had taken an enormous plane and carved them off.

© CMIgypsum mountain
Gypsum Mountain, north-west Wind River Mountains, Wyoming, USA.

In reality, water must have planed the surface. Scientists know this because large, rounded rocks cover the surfaces. Only lots of water can produce rounded rocks. The water carries along the rocks, which crash into each other, breaking all the sharp edges off.

And the water level must have been very high up to carve off the tops of high hills and mountains. This points to the time when the Flood covered all the high mountains.

Another thing: only fast erosion can explain what we see. In many planation surfaces, we see hard and soft rock eroded flat. If the erosion were slow—over many years—the soft rock would be eroded much more than the hard rock. It took lots of fast-flowing water to erode the hard rocks so much. The Flood is now over, so we don’t see planation surfaces forming today.

© Vorasate Ariyarattanahirun | Dreamstime.com (left), © Leonie Preston | Dreamstime.com (right)Photos of canyon and gorge
Above left: Lower Antelope Canyon near the historic town of Page at Lake Powell, American Southwest, Arizona, USA.
Above right: Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland, Australia.

Floodwater channels carved large canyons and gorges

After a lot of water had drained off in sheets, the water level dropped, and land started to emerge above the water. The flow concentrated into huge rivers or channels. Any rock surface underneath would be eroded, so we would expect that the planes carved out by the sheet flow would be cut by large valleys.

Once again, we see the resulting deep gorges. The channelized floodwater explains gorges in places that would otherwise be very puzzling.

© Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com (left), © Lhb Companies | Dreamstime.com (right)two_gorges
Above left: New River Gorge. This is a scenic canyon in West Virginia where the New River now flows. The gorge was probably carved by a much wider water flow. It’s popular for outdoor activities like rafting and rock climbing.
Above right: Columbia River Gorge. This water gap forms the boundary between the states of Oregon and Washington. It was carved by receding Flood waters. Now only the much smaller Columbia River flows through it. It’s known for its stunning vistas and recreational opportunities.
© Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.comlehigh_gap
Lehigh Gap (USA). Situated in Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Gap is a wind gap formed by the Lehigh River cutting through the Blue Mountain ridge.

Water gaps

For example, you would expect a river to flow around a big obstacle like a mountain. But many rivers flow in gorges that cut right through a mountain range. Such gorges are called water gaps. Even the world’s highest mountains, the Himalayas, have very deep water gaps. Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain, is part of the Himalayas. The Arun River flows to Mt. Everest’s south in a water gap 6 km (4 miles) deep. And in the USA, a large water gap called Hells Canyon is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) deep—even deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Wind gaps

Sometimes there is no longer any river going through the gap. In this case, it is called a wind gap. A famous example is Cumberland Gap near the junction of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, in the USA. It is a 300 m (1,000 ft) deep gorge in the Appalachian Mountains. Herds of buffalo journeyed through it for hundreds of years, making it more passable for people. Native Americans then travelled through it. And in 1775, the famous pioneer Daniel Boone led a company of settlers through. This was the start of Europeans settling the American West.

The best explanation for these gaps is that these mountains were once covered by water. Enormous currents of water flowed in channels across the mountains and carved the gaps. Water now flows in the gap through the mountains, but much more slowly. So, water gaps and wind gaps are not forming now.

© Archana Bhartia | Dreamstime.comcolorado-river
The Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon.

Rivers too small for the valleys they occupy

We also often see a narrow river in a wide valley. Such rivers are called underfit rivers. But a river can cut a valley only about the same width. The wide valley must have been cut by a much wider river—such as the huge channels of receding floodwater.

© Kevin Carden | Dreamstime.comnoah and his passengers were safe

Noah and his passengers were safe

God designed the Ark to be so sturdy that everyone onboard was safe. Even while water raged over the land, Noah could wait patiently for it to leave. The next issue of CFK will explain what was happening on the Ark.

Posted on homepage: 15 May 2024

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