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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CH430:

Baumgardner's computer model shows that runaway subduction explains how the global flood occurred. The cold, heavy crust of the ocean floor sinks into the lighter, hotter mantle, releasing gravitational potential energy as heat. Runaway subduction posits that this process greatly accelerated: "As the plates deform the surrounding rock, the mechanical energy of deformation is converted into heat, creating a superheated 'envelope' of silicate around the sinking ocean floor. Silicate is very sensitive to heat, so it becomes weaker, allowing the plates to sink faster and heating the envelope still further, and so on, faster and faster. As the plates pull apart, the gap between them grows into a broadening seam in the planet. This sends a gigantic bubble of mantle shooting up through these ridges; [w]hich displaces the oceans; [w]hich creates a huge flood" (Burr 1997, 57). God "caused an enormous blob of hot mantle material to come rushing up at incredible velocity through the underwater midocean ridges. The material ballooned, displacing a tidal wave of sea water over the continents. . . . Then, after 150 days (Genesis 7:24), the bubble retreated with equal speed into the Earth" (Burr 1997, 56).


Burr, Chandler, 1997. The geophysics of God. US News and World Report 122 (June 16): 55-58.


  1. Baumgarder's theory still does not work without miracles, as Baumgardner himself admitted (Baumgardner 1990a, 1990b). The thermal diffusivity of the earth would have to increase ten thousandfold to get the subduction rates proposed, and something would have to cause the advance and retreat of the magma bubble (Matsumura 1997). Miracles would also have been necessary to cool the new ocean floor and to raise sedimentary mountains in months rather than in the millions of years it would ordinarily take.

  2. The miraculously lowered viscosity would likely also lower frictional heating, removing the heat source that the model needs to accelerate the subduction (Matsumura 1997).

  3. A series of events such as the magma bubble Baumgardner described would create "an enormous volcanic province in a single region. So, where is it?" (Geissman, quoted in Matsumura 1997, 30). The incredible amount of subduction proposed would also have produced much more vulcanism around plate boundaries than we see (Matsumura 1997).

  4. Baumgardner estimated a release of 1028 joules from the subduction process. This is more than enough to boil off all the oceans. In addition, Baumgardner postulated that the mantle was much hotter before the Flood (giving it less viscosity); that heat would have to go somewhere, too.

  5. Baumgardner's own modeling shows that during the Flood, currents would be faster over continents than over ocean basins (Baumgardner and Barnette 1994), so sediments should, on the whole, be removed from continents and deposited in ocean basins. Yet sediments on the ocean basin average 0.6 km thick, while on continents (including continental shelves), they average 2.6 km thick (Poldervaart 1955).

  6. Cenozoic sediments are post-Flood according to this model. Yet fossils from Cenozoic sediments alone show a sixty-five-million-year record of evolution, including a great deal of the diversification of mammals and angiosperms (Carroll 1997, chaps. 5-6, 13).

  7. Terra, the computer program that Baumgardner created, is a useful computer program for modeling convection, but the program adds no credibility. Unreal assumptions of runaway subduction will produce unreal conclusions.


Isaak, Mark, 1998. Problems with a global flood, 2nd edition.

Matsumura, Molleen, 1997. Miracles in, creationism out: "The geophysics of God". Reports of the National Center for Science Education 17(3): 29-32.


  1. Baumgardner, John R., 1990a. Changes accompanying Noah's Flood. Proceedings of the second international conference on creationism, vol. II. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, pp. 35-45.
  2. Baumgardner, John R., 1990b. The imperative of non-stationary natural law in relation to Noah's Flood. Creation Research Society Quarterly 27(3): 98-100.
  3. Baumgardner, John R. and D. W. Barnette, 1994. Patterns of ocean circulation over the continents during Noah's Flood. Proceedings of the third international conference on creationism. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, pp. 77-86.
  4. Carroll, Robert L., 1997. Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press.
  5. Matsumura, Molleen, 1997. (see above)
  6. Poldervaart, Arie, 1955. Chemistry of the earth's crust. pp. 119-144 in: Poldervaart, A., ed., Crust of the Earth, Geological Society of America Special Paper 62, Waverly Press, MD.

Further Reading:

Strahler A. N., 1987. Science and Earth History: The evolution/creation controversy. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
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