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Title: Controversy over Noah's Flood in the Black Sea: Geological and foraminiferal evidence from the shelf
Authors: Yanko-Hombach, Valentyna V.
Янко-Хомбах, Валентина Венедиктовна
Янко-Хомбах, Валентина Венедиктівна
Citation: The Black Sea Flood Question Changes in Coastline, Climate and Human Settlement. / V. V. Yanko-Hombach, A. S. Gilbert, N. Panin, P. M. Dolukhanov. - Springer, 2007. - 971 p.
Issue Date: 2007
Keywords: Black Sea
Late Pleistocene
sea level
benthic foraminifera
Abstract: This paper reviews the geological and foraminiferal evidence collected during the course of extensive paleoceanographic and geological studies in the Black Sea, conducted largely by Eastern European scientists since 1970. Though this research has a long history, its most recent focus has been examining the “Noah’s Flood” Hypothesis proposed by William Ryan and Walter Pitman, which proposes an abrupt and catastrophic flooding of the Pontic basin in the early Holocene. Specifically, the hypothesis states that the Black Sea was a freshwater lake with a surface about 140 m below present sea level between 14.7 and 10 ky BP, while at 7.2 ky BP (initial hypothesis) or 8.4 ky BP (modified hypothesis), the lake was rapidly inundated by Mediterranean water flowing through the Bosphorus, which forced the dispersion of early Neolithic people into the interior of Europe. The hypothesis further suggests that the event formed the historical basis for the biblical legend of Noah’s Flood. This paper considers the period between 28 and 7 ky BP, and three crucial points are discussed: (1) the level and salinity of the Neoeuxinian lake; (2) the re-colonization of the Black Sea by Mediterranean immigrants–and by implication sea level and salinity changes due to connection/isolation between adjacent basins; and (3) an alternative to the Bosphorus as an inter-basin conduit. It will be shown that, prior to the moderately warm Würm Paudorf (Middle Weichselian) Pleniglacial (prior to ca. 27 ky BP), a brackish Tarkhankutian basin was connected with the Sea of Marmara. At the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), this connection was interrupted, and the level of the Tarkhankutian basin dropped to about –100 m, transforming this basin into a closed Early Neoeuxinian lake. In the warming climate of ca. 17 ky BP, a massive water discharge originating most likely from the Caspian Sea and arriving via the Manych Spillway increased the level of the Late Neoeuxinian lake to about –20 m. Excess semi-fresh to brackish water must have spilled into the Sea of Marmara and from there into the Mediterranean. During the short climatic cooling episode of the Younger Dryas, the level of the lake dropped from –20 to –43 m and then rose again to about –20 m. After ca. 10 ky BP, the level of the Black Sea never again dropped below the –40 m isobath, nor exhibited a maximum amplitude of fluctuation greater than approximately 20 m. At ca. 9.5 ky BP, the water level reached –20 m again and Mediterranean water with its inhabiting organisms entered the Late Neoeuxinian lake. This re-colonization of the Black Sea occurred in an oscillating manner. It was slow at the beginning, becoming most prominent by 7.0 ky BP. The connection between adjacent basins was probably not through the Bosphorus Strait but via an alternative route, e.g., that following Izmit Bay–Sapanca Lake–Sakarya River. On average, sea level rose gradually, but in an oscillating manner, to its present level, and perhaps slightly higher, averaging 3 cm per 100 years but certainly not 15 cm per day (almost 55 m per year) as postulated by the “Noah’s Flood” hypothesis. A rate of sea-level increase of 3 cm per 100 years would not be noticed by local inhabitants and would not have accelerated their dispersion into the interior of Europe. This brings us to the conclusion that “Noah’s Flood” in the Black Sea is a contemporary legend.
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