How Did The Waters of Noah’s Flood Drain Off The Continents?

Pacific Ocean space view

Where did the water go?

by Mike Oard

Many ask: “If Noah’s Flood really covered the whole earth, then where did the water go?”

This question has a simple answer, and once we understand what happened and how, we can see the reality of the biblical Flood all around the world.

The floodwater is in the oceans

Actually, the Bible tells us where the water went. By Day 150 of the Flood catastrophe the floodwaters had risen until they covered “all the high mountains under the whole heaven” (Genesis 7:19). After that “the waters receded from the earth continually” (Genesis 8:3), a process that took about seven months.

As the water receded from the continents it must have flowed into the oceans. It only takes a quick look at a globe of the earth to appreciate that the water indeed sits in the oceans. The Pacific Ocean alone takes up almost half the earth’s surface.

The crust goes up and down

Logically, the only way for the water to drain from the continents into the oceans is for the continents to rise and the ocean floors to sink. As our knowledge of the structure of the earth has grown we can appreciate how that could have happened.

The top part of the earth, called the crust, sits on top of the mantle (about 3,000 km (1,900 miles) thick), which in turn sits on the earth’s iron core. The continental crust is about 40 km (25 miles) thick, while the thickness of the oceanic crust is only around 7 km (5 miles). Up-and-down movement of the crust during Noah’s Flood, called differential vertical tectonics, explains how the waters drained from the continents. On a smaller scale, mountain ranges would have risen and valleys sunk.

As the continental crust rose and the ocean floors sank, the floodwater covering the globe drained off, causing massive erosion of the continents. By the time the floodwaters had fully receded, the surface had been transformed into its present shape. After that, Noah and all those with him left the Ark, 371 days after the Flood had begun (Genesis 8:18–19).

As the ocean basins began to sink, the water flowed across the continents in wide sheets, shaving the surface flat. Geologists call such features ‘planation surfaces’. The runoff eroded the uplifting mountains, transporting the rock debris across the continent, and rounding any hard, resistant rocks into boulders and gravel. Large deposits of well-rounded quartzite rocks are found at numerous places in the northwest United States and adjacent Canada.

Toward the end of the Flood, mountain ranges began to emerge above the water and the runoff became more channelized. These flowed across mountain ranges, ridges, and plateaus, eroding gorges from one side of the barrier to the other, a feature called a water gap, through which a river or stream now passes…


image credit: Pacific Ocean space view by Globe Master – SideEffect