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Hydroplate theory

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The hydroplate theory is a relatively new model of Earth history put forth by Dr. Walt Brown in his book In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood. It states that before the Global flood a massive amount of water was underneath the crust. The pressure on the water caused the plates to break and separate. The escaping water then flooded the whole earth. Because these plates were broken, moved, and affected by water, (Hydro = water) these plates are considered hydroplates.[1]

Theory summary

Dr. Brown postulates that the preflood earth held a mass of water that surrounded the earth underneath the crust. It might have held as much as half of the water in our oceans today. This water was seemingly held in coterminous chambers forming a thin spherical shell. The shell was possibly 10 miles below the earth's surface. Increasing pressure on the water started stretching the crust. This "stretching" created a microscopic crack which violently grew about 3 miles per second. This crack found the weakest parts of the crust and broke through them. This crack encompassed the globe in about two hours. The water was being pressured by 10 miles of rock and exploded out of the crack. This water was shot almost 20 miles into the atmosphere. This created fierce rains and even extreme hail. Some of the water shot high above the stratosphere creating ice crystals that fell in certain areas. These extreme hails buried, asphyxiated, and instantly froze many animals. This includes the frozen mammoths found today.

These fountains eroded the rock on both sides of the crack creating massive amounts of sediment all over the world. The sediment buried many animals and plants establishing the fossil record. The width was so colossal that the rock beneath was compelled upward by pressure and became the mid-oceanic ridge. Then the hydroplates slid down and away from the inclining mid-Atlantic ridge. Once the gradually advancing plates reached speeds of about 45 miles per hour they would collide, compress and buckle. The plates that buckled downward became ocean trenches and those that buckled upward became mountains. This explains why large mountain ranges are in correlation to their oceanic ridges.[2]

The theory attempts to reduce the following seemingly different phenomena into a single cause: the sudden rupturing of subterranean chambers of water which were once within the Earth's crust.

  • Sudden destruction of most of the life on Earth;
  • Massive changes in land morphology, including mountain formation;
  • Continental drift;
  • Unusual geologic features, such as salt domes, limestone cliffs, canyons, and others;
  • Mid-oceanic ridges and trenches;
  • Comets, meteorites, and asteroids;
  • And he addresses the source and destination of water for a global flood.

Sequence of events

It was the rupturing of the Earth's crust which caused the destruction of all surface features on planet Earth, in an event described in Genesis 7:11 .

About half the water now in the oceans was once in interconnected chambers about 10 miles below the earth's surface. Excluding the solid structure of the interconnected chambers, the subterranean water, containing a large amount of dissolved salt and carbon dioxide, would have approximated a thin, spherical shell, about 3/4 of a mile in thickness. Above the subterranean water was a granite crust; beneath the water was a layer of basaltic rock. (In the Beginning, 7th Edition, p 99)

The bursting forth caused powerful jets of water, which after shooting above the atmosphere returned to the surface in torrential rains. It contained a mixture of water and rock chunks propelled by a hydraulic 'hammer' action, actually expanding gases which managed to escape Earth's gravity. Eventually these either regrouped by their own gravity, became captured by other objects, or otherwise drifted in space as asteroids, meteors, comets, or planetary ring systems.

11In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. Genesis 7:11 (NASB)

The initial crack wherein the waters escaped elongated to a rift encircling the entire Earth, and widened to become the mid-oceanic ridge. In particular, the land which split along the crack that was to become the Mid Atlantic Ridge separated into the East coast of North/South America, and the West coast of Europe/Africa. As the rapidly moving continental masses (the hydroplates) separated, they eventually encountered resistance, wherein they buckled and formed huge mountain ranges. This is why the major mountain ranges run parallel to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Naturally, the long axis of each buckled mountain was generally perpendicular to its hydroplate's motion or parallel to the portion of the Mid-Oceanic Ridge from which it slid. So, the Rocky Mountains, Appalachians, and Andes have a north-south orientation. (In the Beginning, 7th Edition, p 104)

The effect on the other side of the world was to form depressions:

As the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Atlantic floor rose, mass had to shift within the earth toward the Atlantic. Subsidence occurred on the opposite side of the earth, especially in the western Pacific where granite plates buckled downward, forming trenches. (In the Beginning, 7th Edition, p 105)

This smooth separation of the continents and sudden thrust upward of the major mountain ranges seem to fit the natural evidence precisely. Other, more complex movements and distortions, such as those proposed by Bullard and the more recent plate tectonics theories are not as elegant. The Hydroplate Theory fits much evidence for many other physical features and does so without 'stretching' its original proposal; they follow as a natural consequence of the theory.

It should also be noted that besides making observations about evidence, the Hydroplate Theory also makes predictions about features which should be discovered if it were true. Some of these have been fulfilled since the time in which they were originally made.

The text and pictures of the entire book which actually lays out the case for Hydroplate Theory in full detail is available free online for further reading.[3]

Possible evidence from the moon

Hydroplate makes the prediction that explosive water would reach the moon and melt rock on impact. We would also expect that it would boil off on the moon, but have certain amounts make its way into the rock. Recent finds confirm this (Chaussidon 2008):

These results raise many questions. Are the volatile contents of the melts that formed the green and orange glasses typical for the Moon? Can the general scarcity of most volatile elements on the Moon be reconciled with the apparent abundance of sulphur, chlorine, fluorine and especially water in the lunar glasses? What happened to all the water during the Moon’s formation? And if the Moon is not bone dry, where did the water come from? - Mark Chaussidon

It should, however, be noted that catastrophic plate tectonics may also explain this. John Baumgardner says:

Discussions in early 2001 with Nathaniel Morgan, a new graduate student at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a background in multiphase heat transfer, led us both to realize that supersonic steam jets were almost a certainty along the spreading boundary between diverging ocean plates during the runaway phase of the catastrophe. Further analysis showed that jet velocities exceeding the Earth’s escape velocity might be possible. In this case, the energy per kilogram of steam escaping to space is sufficient to accomplish the bulk of the lithospheric cooling while the plates are moving apart and do so without depleting the oceans of all their water. At a velocity of 14 km/s, for example, 1 kg of steam has about 108 J of kinetic energy. Removal of this amount of heat is enough to cool 140 kg of rock by 1000 K, for a representative specific heat of 710 J/kg-K. On the order of 1000-1500 m of water would then be needed to cool the present ocean lithosphere to its current state. Although this is a lot of seawater, it is not entirely beyond the realm of comprehension.[4]

Criticisms by evolutionists

The rocks that make up the earth's crust do not float

The rocks were not floating on the subterranean water like a boat; rather the water was in a sealed chamber. Water or even air in a sealed chamber will support a large amount of weight, that would other wise sink through it. It would be more like a water bed than a boat. Furthermore, Brown was clear that "About half the water now in the oceans was once in interconnected chambers about 10 miles below the earth’s surface."

At a depth of 10 miles the temperature would be too high

Being at 10 miles the temperature would be so high that when released the water would have fried the Earth. This assumes current conditions, on the pre Flood world. It is likely that the current levels of heat inside the Earth were generated by the events of the Flood; furthermore the vaporization that would occur during the eruption due to decompression would have cooled it as well; hence the water would not have been too hot.

The eroding of the sides of the fissures

The eroding of the sides of the fissures, by the escaping water would have produced poorly sorted basaltic deposits, that have never been seen. There is no basis for this claim. The following factors show that it is erroneous:

  1. The subterranean water would have eroded mainly granite not basalt.
  2. The force behind the eruption would pulverize what was eroded so the particles of such deposits, would be removed and resorted by the Flood waters.

Hydroplates have no place to slide before running into each other

By the time the Atlantic floor buckled the fissures would have been eroded to at least 400 miles on both sides, and the same thing would have been occurring in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Thus the plates would have had at least 400 miles to slide before they could have run into each other. Furthermore as they moved the plates would have been eroded further, particularly on the Pacific side as the motion closed the gap.

Initial hydroplates were estimated to be 10 miles thick [9th Edition: 60 miles thick]

Outdated Criticism: In the 8th Edition of In the Beginning, the hydroplate theory estimated the original hydroplates to be 10 miles thick. Yet with today's continental crust averaging 22 miles thick, the initial estimated thickness of the plates appeared to be insufficient. With the 9th Edition (draft available online prior to the planned printing, perhaps in 2019), the realization that the debris that coalesced to form the trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) was part of the ejecta of the fountains of the great deep, this objection is no longer applicable.

Criticisms by creationists

Other creationists are disappointed that Walt Brown has not submitted most of his Hydroplate Theory to the scrutiny of (creationist) peer review, and disagree with various of its claims.

Astronomer Danny Faulkner disputes the model's ability to explain comets and asteroids. One of his criticisms is that many of the long-period comets, if formed according to this model, would not yet have returned on their first orbit.[5]

Michael Oard says that there is no geological evidence of the former lakes (Grand Lake and Hopi Lake) that Brown says formed the Grand Canyon when they breached, and he rejects Brown's rebuttal (that the Rocky Mountain region was too unstable to form lasting lake rim evidence) as being inconsistent with the evidence of the former Bonneville and Missoula lakes.[5]


  1. *The Hydroplate Theory: An Overview by Walt Brown PhD
  2. The Hydro-Plate Theory and The Great Flood by Walt Brown PhD
  3. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood By Walt Brown. 328 page hardcover. ISBN 1878026089
  4. Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: The Physics Behind the Genesis Flood by John Baumgardner. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, 113-126, 2003
  5. 5.0 5.1 Michael J. Oard, Analysis of Walt Brown’s Flood model, 7 April 2013.

External links

See Also