The Venus and Mars catastrophes of Worlds in Collision are only the latest in a series which, according to Velikovsky, involved every planet visible to the naked eye, at one time or another. Critiques of the Worlds in Collision scenario began appearing even before its publication in book form. This may have something to do with the fact that Velikovsky never finished the books describing these earlier catastrophes, because they make Worlds in Collision look pretty tame by comparison. Someday, his executors may release the manuscripts of Jupiter of the Thunderbolt and Saturn and the Flood. In the meantime, some articles in Kronos provide a few details. Ice cores also have implications for claims of these earlier catastrophes, which I will review here.
Chief among them was the biblical Deluge, which Velikovsky ascribed to an explosion of the planet Saturn which he called a "nova". "It is conceivable that the Earth was, at that time, a satellite of Saturn, afterwards possibly becoming a satellite of Jupiter." 1 Shortly after the explosion, the earth was enveloped in clouds of water or of hydrogen gas ejected from Saturn, which precipitated as the Flood. "The volume of water on the Earth was vastly increased.... the Atlantic Ocean... came to be only after the Deluge." 2 This newly acquired water was said to be warm. It "may have been rich in chlorine... Chlorine may thus be of extraneous origin..." 3 In this catastrophe, as in later ones, "all volcanoes erupted." 4
All this is supposed to have happened quite recently, "in times preceding the Middle Kingdom in Egypt..." 5
I am not in a position to point to point to the century or even millennium when the Universal Deluge took place, but it must have happened between five and ten thousand years ago, probably closer to the second figure. 6
If the Atlantic Ocean is only a few thousand years old, not some 200 million years, as the geologists would have it, one might ask what marine sediments from the Jurassic (which came to a close about 135 million years ago) are doing on the seafloor. How was the Atlantic created? -- by a rise in world sea level? -- by a depression of the ocean floor? -- or were the continents pulled apart suddenly at one stroke? The Atlantic contains approximately one quarter of the waters of this earth. Its average depth is nearly 4000 meters -- slightly less than the Pacific, and about the same as the Indian Ocean. If the Atlantic was not yet in existence, what of those two great oceans, to say nothing of the much shallower Arctic and Mediterranean? It must have been a desert planet.
Velikovsky thought that the waters of the Flood might have been formed from hydrogen gas expelled from Saturn, combining with free oxygen in the earth's atmosphere. Because the survivors of the Deluge were said to have been unable to light fires, he reasoned that there must have been a drastic fall in atmospheric oxygen. A more prosaic explanation might have been wet firewood. But if the oceans were increased in this way by less than a thousandth part of their present volume, that would be enough to completely strip the atmosphere of its oxygen. There would not have been any survivors to light fires -- they would have been asphyxiated, if not indeed incinerated (remember what happened to the Hindenburg).
Velikovsky's claims could be tested against various different types of evidence. Several come to mind -- tree rings, pollen records, marine and lake sediments, and ancient dated strand lines, for a start. These upheavals would also leave most of the same kinds of traces in the ice-core record as were discussed earlier in relation to his Venus and Mars catastrophes.
The waters of the Flood, falling directly on the ice sheets, would leave a thick layer of ice with properties different from the ice above and beneath it. One of these properties is chlorinity.
Velikovsky's explanation for the origin of chlorine in the oceans is that it came from another planet. Chloride blows onto polar ice sheets from the surrounding oceans in trace amounts, the concentration decreasing with distance and elevation. The concentration of chloride in today's oceans is about a million times higher than in the ice. The concentration in the Flood layer would be even higher.
Chloride has been measured at Camp Century and Dye 3, but not continuously. (See Fig. 1.) So the layer deposited by the Flood (if one existed) might be missed. However, the concentration before the Flood should be much lower than after. This is what you would expect, even if chloride levels in the ocean were not affected by the Flood, for the simple reason that there would have been a lot less ocean around the drill sites -- no Atlantic, remember, so how could a shallow ocean like the Arctic have existed? The coasts would be lower and further away, and less chloride would reach the core sites.
Chloride concentration in parts per billion at Camp Century and Dye 3 plotted against age. Except for isolated peaks associated with volcanic sulfate spikes, the concentrations have been relatively constant for the last 10,000 years. Source: Michael M. Herron and Chester C. Langway, Jr., "Chloride, Nitrate, and Sulfate in the Dye 3 and Camp Century, Greenland Ice Cores," in Langway et al., Greenland Ice Core, p. 78.
Examining the figure, we see that the only really significant fluctuation in chloride levels is at the transition from glacial to interglacial, upwards of 10,000 years ago. The reason that levels were much higher in late glacial times is that wind speeds were higher -- dust levels are higher in this part of the core, also. There is no significant shift since then.
Velikovsky says that the waters of the Flood were described as warm. If they were warm enough to fall at the poles as rain, they would leave an extremely thick melt layer in the ice. If a quantity of water sufficient to fill the Atlantic Ocean fell, spread over the whole earth, it would wash away or soak completely through the firn covering the ice sheets. As explained previously, ice precipitated as snow contains countless tiny bubbles of air and has a milky appearance. So if any such melt layer existed, it could be distinguished with the naked eye. It could not be confused with seasonal percolation features.
If "all volcanoes erupted," the atmosphere would be saturated with sulfates. But whether the ususal titanic eruption would register in the acidity record of polar ice cores depends on the timing of events. If the waters of the Flood began to fall at the same time or immediately afterward, the sulfates might be washed out before they could reach the poles.
If the oxygen content of the atmosphere was greater before the Deluge, this would be evident from analysis of the contents of bubbles in the ice, as would be any recovery afterward. As we have seen, there is no significant change in oxygen content in enclosed air in approximately the last 40,000 years, at least.
For the earth literally to have received oceans of water from Saturn requires it to have been in close proximity to that planet, regardless of whether it was a satellite of the larger body . Even if the giant planet was several times closer to the sun, that implies a very different earth-sun distance, and a drastically different climate. Velikovsky saw this as no problem:
The geological record documents extreme climates for the past of the earth times when corals grew in the Arctic, and times when the Earth, partly even on the equator, was fettered by ice. Such climates require definitely abnormal conditions that could be created only by varying positions of our planet as an astronomical body. 7
"Therefore," the surmise that the earth was the satellite of a giant planet is "not in conflict with geological and paleoclimatological records." 8 I'm afraid that there is a problem, because this completely ignores the time element. These vestiges are many millions of years old, and can be explained by continental drift. What we need is a record of what climate was like a few thousand years ago, and we have one in polar ice cores -- in particular, in the isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen.
For several reasons, the ratios of these isotopes found in ice cores above, below, and in the Flood layer must be distinctly different, if these events actually happened.
Remember that temperature, elevation above sea level, and distance from the source of precipitation all affect isotope ratios. Before the Flood, the shores of the oceans would have been lower and further away. Eliminating the Atlantic Ocean, and perhaps the Arctic, as sources of water vapor means that any precipitation reaching Greenland would have to travel a vast distance: The accumulation rate would be drastically reduced.
The temperature of the earth's surface is dependent upon the radiation it receives from the sun, and the strength of that radiation upon the distance between the two. At the height of the last glaciation, when ice was advancing down the Ohio Valley, it is estimated that mean global temperatures were about 5° Celsius colder than at present. 9 This is not a drastic difference, but it shows up clearly in the isotope record of every ice core that reaches back that far. No rational mind can conceive how earth could undergo such extremely violent orbital perturbations, becoming first a dependency of the planet Saturn, and later of Jupiter, without leaving equally violent perturbations in the 18O record.
That the earth would have experienced anything like the present seasons is doubtful, yet seasonal oscillations in isotopes, dust, and acidity have been counted back for more than 10,000 years at Dye 3.
Finally, the influx of vast quantities of hydrogen and oxygen from another planet would alter the isotopic balance of the ocean itself. The isotopes of these elements could not be present in exactly the same proportions in the envelope of another planet, as in our oceans.
1. Immanuel Velikovsky, "On Saturn and the Flood," Kronos V:1, p. 7.
2. Ibid., p. 9.
3. Ibid., pp. 7-8.
4. Ibid., p. 9.
5. Ibid., p. 4.
6. Immanuel Velikovsky, "The Pitfalls of Radiocarbon Dating," Pensée IV (spring-summer, 1973), p. 13.
7. Velikovsky, "The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," Kronos VI: 4, p. 50.
8. Ibid., loc. cit.
9. Cf. W. Lawrence Gates, "Modelling the Ice-Age Climate," Science, March 19, 1976, p. 1141; Syukuro Manabe and Douglas C. Hahn, "Simulation of the Tropical Climate of an Ice Age," Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 82, no. 27 (Sept. 20, 1977), p. 3910.
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Last modified by pib on October 28, 2003.