Black Sea deluge hypothesis
The Black Sea deluge is a hypothesized catastrophic rise in the level of the Black Sea circa 5600 BC due to waters from the Mediterranean Sea breaching a sill in the Bosporus Strait. The hypothesis was headlined when The New York Times published it in December 1996, shortly before it was published in an academic journal. While it is agreed that the sequence of events described did occur, there is debate over the suddenness, dating and magnitude of the events. Two opposing hypotheses have arisen to explain the rise of the Black Sea: gradual, and oscillating.:15 The oscillating hypothesis specifies that over the last 30,000 years, water has intermittently flowed back and forth between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea in relatively small magnitudes, and does not necessarily presuppose that there occurred any sudden "refilling" events. However, an expedition in 2012 brought forth evidence of a catastrophic event supporting the original Deluge Hypothesis. 
In 1997, William Ryan and Walter Pitman published evidence that a massive flooding of the Black Sea occurred about 5600 BC through the Bosphorus, following this scenario. Before that date, glacial meltwater had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes draining into the Aegean Sea. As glaciers retreated, some of the rivers emptying into the Black Sea declined in volume and changed course to drain into the North Sea. The levels of the lakes dropped through evaporation, while changes in worldwide hydrology caused overall sea level to rise. The rising Mediterranean finally spilled over a rocky sill at the Bosporus. The event flooded 155,000 km2 (60,000 sq mi) of land and significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline to the north and west. According to the researchers, "40 km3 (10 cu mi) of water poured through each day, two hundred times the flow of the Niagara Falls... The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days."
Samplings of sediments in the Black Sea by a series of expeditions carried out between 1998 and 2005 in the frame of a European Project ASSEMBLAGE and coordinated by a French oceanographer, Gilles Lericolais, brought some new inputs to Ryan and Pitman's hypothesis. These results were also completed by the Noah Project led by Petko Dimitrov from the Bulgarian Institute of Oceanology (IO-BAS). Furthermore, calculations made by Mark Siddall predicted an underwater canyon that was actually found.
While some geologists claim it as fact that the sequence of events described did occur, there is debate over their suddenness and magnitude. In particular, if the water level of the Black Sea had initially been higher, the effect of the spillover would have been much less dramatic. A large part of the academic geological community also continues to reject the idea that there could have been enough sustained long-term pressure by water from the Aegean to dig through a supposed isthmus at the present Bosporus, or enough of a difference in water levels (if at all) between the two water basins.
Countering the hypothesis of Ryan and Pitman are data collected prior to its publication by Ukrainian and Russian scientists including Valentina Yanko-Hombach, who claims that the water flow through the Bosporus repeatedly reversed direction over geological time depending on fluctuation in the levels of the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. This contradicts the hypothesized catastrophic breakage of a Bosporus sill. Likewise, the water levels calculated by Yanko-Hombach differed widely from those hypothesized by Ryan and Pitman.
In 2007, a research anthology on the topic was published which makes much of the earlier Russian research available in English for the first time, and combines it with more recent scientific findings.
A February 2009 article reported that the flooding might have been "quite mild".
According to a study by Giosan et al., the level in the Black Sea before the marine reconnection was 30 m below present sea level, rather than the 80 m, or lower, of the catastrophe theories. If the flood occurred at all, the sea level increase and the flooded area during the reconnection were significantly smaller than previously proposed. It also occurred earlier than initially surmised, ca. 7400 BC, rather than the originally proposed 5600 BC. Since the depth of the Bosporus, in its middle furrow, at present varies from 36 to 124 m, with an average depth of 65 m, a calculated stone age shoreline in the Black Sea lying 30 m lower than in the present day would imply that the contact with the Mediterranean may never have been broken during the Holocene, and hence that there could have been no sudden waterfall-style transgression.
Counter-evidence to criticism
In an expedition in 2012, Robert Ballard's team discovered evidence for a catastrophic flood in the Black Sea region. "We went in there to look for the flood," he said. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed... The land that went under stayed under." Four hundred feet below the surface, they unearthed an ancient shoreline, proof to Ballard that a catastrophic event did happen in the Black Sea. By carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, Ballard said he believes they have established a timeline for that catastrophic event, which he estimates happened around 5,000 BC.
References and sources
- Wilford, John Noble (17 December 1996). "Geologists Link Black Sea Deluge To Farming's Rise". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Yanko-Hombach et al. 2007
- Ryan and Pitman 1997.
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Climate History: Exploring Climate Events and Human Development"
- ASSEMBLAGE—ASSEssMent of the BLAck Sea sedimentary system since the last Glacial Extreme, FR: French Research Institute in Oceanography.
- Gilles Lericolais, FR: French Research Institute in Oceanography.
- Dimitrov, Dimitar (2004), Noah Project, BG: IO-Bas
|last1=in Authors list (help).
- Nature 2004
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- National Geographic News 2009
- Liviu Giosan, F. Filip; Constantinescu, S (2009), "Was the Black Sea catastrophically flooded in the early Holocene?", Quaternary Science Reviews (26), pp. 1–6.
- Kenneth Neil Mertens et al.: Quantitative estimation of Holocene surface salinity variation in the Black Sea using dinoflagellate cyst process length, Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol 39, 2012, p 45–59, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.01.026.
- Aksu, Ali E. et al. 2002. Persistent Holocene Outflow from the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean Contradicts Noah's Flood Hypothesis. GSA Today, May 2002, 12(5): 4–10. doi:10.1130/1052-5173(2002)012<0004:PHOFTB>2.0.CO;2
- Sperling, M., Schmiedl, G., Hemleben, C., Emeis, K. C., Erlenkeuser, H., and Grootes, P. M. 2003. Black Sea impact on the formation of eastern Mediterranean sapropel S1? Evidence from the Marmara Sea. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 190, 9-21.
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- Eris, K., Ryan, W. B. F., Cagatay, N., Sancar, Ü., Lericolais, G., Menot, G., and Bard, E. 2008.The timing and evolution of the post-glacial transgression across the Sea of Marmara shelf south of İstanbul. Marine Geology 243, 57-76.
- Dimitrov, Petko and Dimitrov, Dimitar. 2004. The Black Sea, the flood, and the ancient myths. Varna (Bulgaria): Slavena.
- Keith, M.L. and Anderson, G.M. 1963. Radiocarbon Dating: Fictitious Results with Mollusk Shells. Science, 1963 August 13, 141(3581): 634–637. doi:10.1126/science.141.3581.634
- National Geographic News. 2009-02-06. "Noah's Flood" Not Rooted in Reality, After All?
- Nature. 2004 August 12. Noah's Flood. 430: 718-19
- New Scientist. 2004 May 4. Flood hypothesis seems to hold no water. 2341: 13
- Ryan, W.B.F.; Pitman III, W.C., et al. 1997. An abrupt drowning of the Black Sea shelf. Marine Geology, 138: 119–126.
- Yanko-Hombach, Valentina. 2007. The Black Sea Flood Question: Changes in Coastline, Climate and Human Settlement. Springer ISBN 1-4020-4774-6.
- Chepalyga A.L. The late glacial Great Flood in the Ponto-Caspian basin. In: The Black Sea Flood question: changes in coastline, climate and human settlement. Springer. 2006. pp. 119–148 
- Giosan, Liviu et al. 2009. Was the Black Sea catastrophically flooded in the early Holocene? Quaternary Science Reviews, January 2009, 28(12-2): 1-6. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.10.012
This article (possibly not identical to the preceding citation) is available online with unrestricted access here at the sponsoring institution's website.
- Noah's Not-so-big Flood
- Lericolais, G.  et al. 2009. High frequency sea level fluctuations recorded in the Black Sea since the LGM. Global and Planetary Change, March 2009, 66(1-2): 65-75
- "Ballard and the Black Sea"
- Ryan, William B.; Pitman, Walter C. (2000), Noah's Flood: The new scientific discoveries about the event that changed history, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-85920-3
- Dimitrov, D. 2010. Geology and Non-traditional resources of the Black Sea. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. ISBN 978-3-8383-8639-3. 244p.
- The late glacial Great Flood in the Ponto-Caspian basin
- Yanko-Hombach, Valentina (December 8, 2006), Allan S. Gilbert, Nicolae Panin and Pavel M. Dolukhanov, ed., The Black Sea Flood Question, Springer, p. 999, ISBN 978-1-4020-4774-9
- Shopov Y. Y., Т. Yalamov, P. Dimitrov, D. Dimitrov and B. Shkodrov (2009b) Initiation of the Migration of Vedic Aryans to India by a Catastrophic Flooding of the Black Sea by Mediterranean Sea during the Holocene.” Extended Abstracts of LIMPACS-3 International Conference of IGBP, PAGES, 5-8 March 2009, Chandigarh, India, pp.126-127.