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No. 92: Mar-Apr 1994

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Back to siberia: the biggest flood?

14,000 BP. Deep in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia. About this date, a wall of water 1,500 feet high surged down the Chuja River valley at 90 miles per hour. How does one deduce such a hydrological cataclysm? A. Rudoy, a geologist at Tomsky State Pedagogical Institute, points to giant gravel bars along the Chuja River valley. These are not the inch-sized ripples we seen on the floors of today's rivers; these are giants measuring tens of yards from crest to crest. Only a catastrophic flood could have piled up these ridges of debris. Rudoy postulates that, during the Ice Ages, a huge ice dam upstream held back a lake 3,000 feet deep, containing 200 cubic miles of water. When the ice dam suddenly ruptured, all life and land downstream was devastated.

(Folger, Tim; "The Biggest Flood," Discover, 15:36, January 1994.)

Comment. The breaking of Pleistocene ice dams also carved up parts of North America. There was the famous Cincinnati ice dam and, of course, the Spokane Flood that gouged out the Channelled Scablands of the Pacific Northwest, when Lake Missoula catastrophically emptied into the Pacific. See ETM5 in our catalog: Carolina Bays, Mima Mounds. It is described here.

But other thoughts intrude: Were the heaps of mammoth carcasses, the Siberian "ivory islands," and those anomalous stone tools mentioned earlier under Archeology the consequences similar Siberian floods?

From Science Frontiers #92, MAR-APR 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss