Hydroplate theory v. plate tectonics

The hydroplate theory competes with catastrophic plate tectonics for acceptance among creation scientists. CSHOF presents this side-by-side comparison to show whether the hydroplate theory, or catastrophic plate tectonics, explains more and has more evidence to support it.

Catastrophic plate tectonics

Catastrophic plate tectonics came from six prominent members of the Institute for Creation Research, three of whom are Creation Science Hall of Fame inductees: Steven A. Austin, John R. Baumgardner, D. Russell Humphreys, Andrew A. Snelling, Larry Vardiman, and Kurt Wise. In 1986, they proposed that the floors of the earth’s oceans were much weaker than they are today, but still as deep. The Flood began, they said, when the ocean floor broke into slabs. Some of the slabs dived or subducted into the mantle and under their neighbors. This happened along the continental margins. In diving into the mantle, the slabs made the mantle hotter and thinner. Result: the slabs moved even further into the mantle and set up a convection current. These processes, once started, “ran away.” As a result:

  • The magnetic field of the earth reversed itself several times in rapid succession. (This could account for paleomagnetic evidence of repeated magnetic-field reversal at various depths in the “geological column.”
  • The continents began to move, and far more rapidly than they move today.
  • The upwelling magma flashed the oceans into steam. This steam rose rapidly into the air, formed clouds, and fell as rain.
  • The ocean floor began to rise, and literally spilled the oceans onto the dry land.
  • The process created hot brines that precipitated many minerals out of solution. These settled on the beaches, and then tremendous earthquakes generated tsunami-like waves that washed those sediments far inland.
  • Finally the ocean floor grew more dense, and the oceans deepened. The water then drained off the land and back into the ocean beds.

Baumgardner and his colleagues presented their ideas at the Third International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, PA, in July of 1994. More recently, Austin gave a fifty-minute talk on catastrophic plate tectonics at the Seattle Creation Conference of 2009. (See video below.)

Antonio Snider first proposed catastrophic plate tectonics in 1859. Baumgardner and his team (“The Six”) give Snider due credit. Of course, conventional geologists refused to accept anything like plate tectonics. They then developed a uniformitarian or gradualistic plate-tectonic model that assumes that the plates move at a uniform rate, and always have.

That aside, catastrophic plate tectonics has obvious problems. First, no one has ever explained how any part of the earth’s crust could dive under another part. (Nor has anyone tried to verify that conventional impression by sending a submarine to dive to a “subduction zone” and try to watch or film it in action.)

Second, catastrophic plate tectonics does not explain how the world’s oceans spilled over mountains as high as the Rockies to the west, and the Appalachians to the east, and then drained into the Gulf of Mexico and left so little sediment in that body of water. The reason that is a problem: catastrophic plate tectonics assumes that the Rocky and Appalachian mountain chains formed during Creation Week, each chain rising as high as or higher than it rises today.

Furthermore, upwelling magma, once it touched the water, would yield its heat and form a crust. No geyser could form, and certainly not enough to yield forty days and nights of rain.

Walt Brown, developer of the hydroplate theory, criticized catastrophic plate tectonics further in a letter dated December 11, 2011:

A crust would quickly form on any magma that suddenly erupted onto an ocean floor. That crust would insulate the magma, so not enough heat could be transferred to the water to form geysers, especially under thousands of feet of water. [Catastrophic plate tectonics] never explains how the crust (1) broke all around the earth and then (2) dove into the mantle. Any animation of that would immediately raise questions from viewers.

Brown further asserted that “The Six” invoked a miracle to explain how the plates broke up and started diving into the mantle. Brown criticized The Six severely for invoking such “miracles of convenience,” saying that such things make a “shambles” of science. He has always held to a rule that he calls “economy of miracles.” To paraphrase William of Occam, he does not invoke miracles, far less multiply them, without very good reason.

Brown further says that “The Six” proposed catastrophic plate tectonics recently to replace the canopy theory of the Flood. According to that theory, a canopy of water vapor covered the earth, until several volcanoes erupted at once and caused the water to fall as a long, hard rain. Such a canopy would have to be in orbit, and only the tropical parts of that canopy could ever hold a stable orbit.

The hydroplate theory

Walter T. Brown, originator of the Hydroplate Theory

Col. Walter T. Brown USAF (rtd). Photo: self.

Brown first conceived of his hydroplate theory in 1972, and began working on it in earnest in 1980. He explains it in detail here. The hydroplate theory shares one feature with catastrophic plate tectonics: the idea of the breakup of the earth’s crust into plates that moved apart, or crashed into one another. There the similarity ends. The key to the hydroplate theory is a subcrustal ocean, ten miles underground and three quarters of a mile deep. This ocean held one-half of the water in the world’s oceans today. Oceans did exist before the Flood, but held the other half of their current amount in much shallower basins. Mountains existed, too, rising to 9000 feet above sea level, not the 35,000-feet-plus of the Himalayan chain, nor even the 14,440 feet of the Rocky chain. (The Appalachian chain rises to about 6800 feet and in theory could have existed before the Flood. But conventional theory says the Appalachians originally rose as high as the Rockies before erosion whittled them down.)

The gravity of the moon pulled the crust up and down, and thus “pumped” this ocean until it grew supercritically hot. This pumping also weakened the crust, until finally, on the day of the Flood, the crust cracked. What rushed out of that crack was neither magma nor lava, but a vertical hypersonic water jet, rushing upward at least as fast as 32 miles per second (and perhaps as fast as 117 miles per second). As this water expanded, it converted its heat into kinetic energy and did not merely transfer its heat to the surrounding ocean. (Anyone who has been near a vent of high-pressure steam knows that the danger zone is directly in the path of the out-rushing steam, not off to the side.) The best modern analog of this process is a jet contrail or “vapor trail” that forms from the exhaust of a jet engine at altitude.

The upward-rushing water eroded the broken edges of the crust, and that created the sediment that would wash over the continents. At the same time, the continents formed their own breakaway plates and sank as the water rushed out. That is how the Flood could wash over them. Those plates slid away from the breakout line until the water ran out, and then crashed onto the original chamber floor, compressed, and buckled. This buckling formed most of the mountain chains of today, especially the Ural chain in Russia, the Rocky-Sierra Madre-Andean chain along the Pacific Coast of the Americas, and the Appalachian chain on the American Atlantic Coast. The Himalayan chain, having the highest mountains on earth, formed when several plates crashed into one another. (Mr. Paul Gosselin also explains the hydroplate theory here.)

Critics often complain that no evidence for a subcrustal ocean exists on earth. But it does. Geophysicists have known about a subcrustal ocean beneath the China mainland, having half the volume of the modern Arctic Ocean, for four and a half years. (This article also reports that conventional scientists say that subcrustal water lubricates the tectonic plates even today.) Brown describes another kind of evidence for a subcrustal ocean: the black smokers of the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. These are plumes of supercritical water, laden with minerals, that spew out of isolated spots along the ridges. Water could not seep down from above to create the smokers; such water would form a crust and seal any lava breach that it touched.

The most important difference between the hydroplate theory and catastrophic plate tectonics lies in what each theory takes for granted, and what each theory explains. Catastrophic plate tectonics takes for granted the hot mantle and core, and invokes a miracle to explain the event that started the cataclysm. The hydroplate theory says that the mantle-and-core structure of the inner earth is a consequence of the Global Flood, as are the high mountains of today. The hydroplate theory makes one assumption, for a subcrustal ocean. And now we find evidence even of that.

An interesting twist

On December 2, 2011, Answers in Genesis published this link to their own animation of how the Global Flood started. (This animation shows regularly at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.) Answers in Genesis, like ICR, accepts catastrophic plate tectonics. One would expect any animation for catastrophic plate tectonics to depict a volcanic breach, an upward thrust of magma, one side of the breach diving or subducting below the other, and the steam plume that gave the earth forty days and nights of rain. Instead, it shows a crack developing in an ocean floor (how deep that floor might be, is not clear), and then a wall of water rushing out of it. In other words, AiG’s animation, that is supposed to show how catastrophic plate tectonics worked, is more consistent with the hydroplate theory.

Brown has seen different versions of this animation since 2009. He shared with the author two misgivings he had about the animation:

  1. Naïve viewers might mistakenly assume that Brown “stole” some ideas from catastrophic plate tectonics in developing his hydroplate theory.
  2. In any event, neither the animation, nor its Web page, nor the related display in the Creation Museum directs the viewer to the information behind the hydroplate theory.

But neither do these sources direct viewers to information behind catastrophic plate tectonics.

Anyone familiar with the hydroplate theory will recognize it, not catastrophic plate tectonics, in the animation.

The videos below show a presentation of catastrophic plate tectonics, a brief animation of the hydroplate theory, the AiG animation, and Pastor Kevin Lea’s lecture on the hydroplate theory, in six parts.

This article is a reprint of an article that appeared originally at Conservative News and Views, with minor updates and supplements.


Disclose.tvhydroplate theory 1.6 Video


Disclose.tvhydroplate theory 2.6 Video


Disclose.tvhydroplate theory 3.6 Video


Disclose.tvhydroplate theory 4.6 Video


Disclose.tvhydroplate theory 5.6 Video


Disclose.tvhydroplate theory 6.6 Video

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4 thoughts on “Hydroplate theory v. plate tectonics

  1. The Hebrew Text describes the Hydroplate Theory & not Plate Tectonics
    From what I’ve see, researchers tend to take a Hebrew word out of a passage & dissect it, without reading the rest of the passage in Hebrew. That doesn’t work! You need to read the whole thing. It’s also a bad idea to rely on what an unbelieving Hebrew scholar will tell you about it. You need to read the whole passage in Hebrew for yourself, and yes it can be done.
    Over a dozen years ago I started researching Creation Science in earnest because I wanted to write a novel about Noah and his sons. My constant prayer has been to be as accurate as possible, and the LORD answered me in a way that I never thought was possible. I became involved in a Messianic Jewish Congregation because my son was learning Hebrew as his 2nd language for High School. In those sorts of congregations, everyone is encouraged to learn Hebrew, and not just the pastor/rabbi. By the grace of God, our Hebrew Teacher was also into Creation Science and he encouraged me to translate Genesis chapters 1 through 11 from the Hebrew Text, the goal being to see what the Hebrew Text had to say about Creation Science. It took me 3½ years to do it, and then another 3½ years just to mull over it again!
    As a result I now hold all Creation Science research up to the light of the Hebrew Text. The Hebrew Text describes the Hydroplate Theory & not Plate Tectonics, but before I explain how, I need to point out that Dr Walt Brown’s interpretation of the word ‘Raqia’ as referring to the dry land doesn’t work, because the Hebrew Text explains that the ‘Raqia’ is ‘outer space’. [Dr Russell Humphries version of what the ‘Raqia’ is , is more in keeping with the Hebrew Text] However, Walt Brown doesn’t need his interpretation of ‘Raqia’ to back up his theory, and here’s why:
    Hebrew has plural words with multi values just like we do in English. Hebrew also has plural words that have the value of 2. This type of word is called a ‘dual plural’. In the Genesis 1-11 portion of scripture there’s a lot of dual plurals in reference to water, and they describe what Dr Walt Brown is talking about when he says that the pre-flood earth had shallow oceans and seas separated by a land mass approximately 10 miles in depth, with an global ocean of water underneath it.
    Genesis 1:9 describes there being a sheet of land between 2 waters. Here’s how it reads word for word in the Hebrew transliteration (Please compare it with your preferred English translation):
    “And He says Elohim gathers the 2-waters from under the Heavens to place one and appears the dry land [singular] and he is exist.” {Keep in mind, that at that point in time both bodies would have been fresh water, and not one salt water and the other fresh water.}
    Then verse 10 says “and He calls Elohim to dry land ‘land’ and to the mikvah (collection) the 2-waters calls ‘seas’.”
    This is what Peter is referring to when he says “And the land was standing in the water and out of the water” ( 2 Peter 3:5). In order for a thing to ‘stand’, it has to have some sort of ‘legs’. 1 Samuel 2:8 says that ‘the inhabited part of the globe’ [root meaning of ‘world’] is set on pillars/columns. Those ‘legs’ are standing in the water underneath the land.
    The 2-waters are also mentioned in verses 20-22.
    Now let’s go to the flood chapters where the word ‘2-waters’ is mentioned 12 times, along with the mechanics of the flood:
    In the Hebrew Text for Genesis 6:17 God says “And I behold-Me! will-bring et the flood 2-waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh that in-him breath life from under the heavens all that in land will die.”
    Genesis 7:6 says “and the flood is 2-waters upon the earth”
    Genesis 7:10 says “And it-was to seven the days and waters the flood [in the sense of flowing, inundation, deluge] were upon the earth” {In other words God gave them a week to load the animals on to the Ark, and then as soon as He shut the door, the mechanics of the flood began and within a short period of time the waters were flowing across the land on that very day. }
    In Genesis 7:11 we also find the mechanics of the flood. The 2nd part of that verse says “split/broke-open all fountains deep great and windows/floodgates/ambush the 2-heavens were-opened/let-loose
    Here’s the breakdown of those words:
    The word ‘fountains’ (maynot) means FOUNTAINS-OF-WATER. It doesn’t have anything to do with ‘fountains of fire’, as some claim!! Scripture explains scripture, see next word.
    The word ‘deep’ (t-hom) is referring to ‘water’ or else it wouldn’t be in keeping with the concept of God making everything out of water in Genesis 1:2-5. [In Genesis 1:2-5, where deep/t-hom is first used, the only thing that exists at that point in time is water & God’s light. For this reason, ‘deep’ cannot mean ‘hot molten lava & that sort of thing’ as some purpose. It can only mean ‘water’ because Genesis 1:2-5 explains Genesis 7:11.] ‘t’hom’ in the Hebrew not only means ‘deep’, but it also means something that is in perpetual motion. This great body of water under the land mass was in a constant state of motion right from day one of its existence.
    The word ‘great’ (rabah) is used here to distinguish the ‘great deep’ from the shallow pre-flood seas. And it also has to do with rank, as to ‘chief’. Apparently, this underground body of water was the chief or biggest body of water on earth.
    windows/floodgates/ambush (arubot) means ‘to lie in wait or ambush’. This is not the same word as Genesis 8:6. The word ‘floodgates’ used in NASB is closer to the true meaning.
    2-heavens: (Genesis 1:14 & 15 says that the sun, moon and stars are in the 2-heavens.) The only way that rain can come from outer space is if the fountains of the great deep shot it up there to begin with! Compare with 8:2.
    Here’s some more places where it says 2-waters in the Hebrew Text:
    Genesis 7:17 says “And is the flood 40 day upon the earth/land and increases the 2-waters and lifts et the ark and it-was-lifted (lofty, high elevation) from-above the land/earth”
    Genesis 7:18 says “And prevailed the 2-waters and increased greatly (‘very exceedingly’) upon the earth/land and went the ark upon the face of the waters”
    Genesis 7:19 “And the 2-waters strengthened greatly (‘very exceedingly’) greatly (‘very exceedingly’) upon the earth…”
    Genesis 7:24 “And prevails the 2-waters upon the earth 50 and 100 days
    Genesis 8:2-3 “And were-closed/shut-up/stopped fountains-of deep and windows of the heavens and was-restrained the rain (violent, heavy) from the heavens” verse 3 “And receded (yashuvu) the 2-waters from the earth going and receding (haloch va shov) {‘yashuvu’ is the idea of ‘to turn back’, not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point and ‘haloch va shov’ means going on & returning (continually returning). This could be caused by the changing of the tides & also by tsunamis etc.} “and diminishes the 2-waters from end-of 50 and 100 day
    Genesis 8:5 “And the 2-waters were going and decreasing until the month the 10th….
    Verse 7 “dries up the 2-waters”.
    Verse 8 “had subsided the 2-waters from upon the face of the ground”
    Verse 11 “And knows Noah that subsides the 2-waters from upon the face of the land”
    Verse 13 “dried the 2-waters from upon the land”
    Genesis 9: 15 “And not shall-be again the 2-waters to flood to destroy all flesh”
    If you would like to see the rest of the Hebrew research go to http://www.w-rocs.org and click on either ‘Creation Science & Hebrew research project’ or ‘Brain Pickers’

    • An excellent supplement.

      Would you like to share any more material as a page on our site? I can make you a Contributor, if you like.

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