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SCIENCE VOL 323 23 JANUARY 2009
FLOOD THEORY REVISED
Was the story of Noah’s Ark inspired by a real event? In 1997, two marine
geologists proposed that about 7500 years ago a torrent of water from the
Mediterranean swelled the Black Sea, scattering early farmers into Europe and
giving rise to the biblical flood myth. But the tide has been turning against
the idea (Science, 17 August 2007, p. 886). Now a study taking a new approach
to the question has concluded that the flood was little more than a trickle.
A team led by Liviu Giosan, a marine geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution in Massachusetts, bored a 42-meter core into sediments in the delta
of the Danube River in Romania, where it empties into the Black Sea. The delta’s
geography has remained stable over the millennia, so the team considers it a
better indicator of ancient sea levels than the Black Sea sediments used in
earlier analyses. The team members also radiocarbon-dated mollusks from the
sediments. In the January issue of Quaternary Science Reviews, they report that
when rising Mediterranean waters started flowing into it, the Black Sea was at
least 50 meters higher than the original estimate–greatly reducing the
potential for flooding.
“It’s a fascinating piece of work,” says Chris Turney, a geologist at the
University of Exeter in the U.K. Giosan and William Ryan of the Lamont-Doherty
Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, a co-author of the 1997 study, plan
to resolve the debate once and for all by applying state-of-the-art dating
techniques to both Danube and Black Sea sediments.
News Release : Danube Delta Holds Answers to ‘Noah’s Flood’ Debate