Walter Brown's "Hydroplate" Model

© 2009-2012, Glen Kuban
Hydroplate theory diagram from Wal Brown's book

Diagram from W. Brown's website and book (Fig. 56)
showing what he calls the "Rupture Phase of the Flood"

Young-earth creationist Walter Brown, a mechanical engineer and Director of the Center for Scientific Creation in Phoenix, Arizona, has developed a "Flood Model" which he believes accounts for virtually all geologic evidence. His central thesis is that only a few thousand years ago the earth's entire crust was suspended over a large reservoir of pressurized water, which suddenly and violently burst forth, releasing most of the water that caused the Noachian deluge. The model also purports to explain the origin of asteroids, meteorites, and comets in our solar system, suggesting that this massive eruption was sufficient to propel huge chunks of earth into outer space. Brown describes his current model in the 8th edition of his book entitled In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, although he presented early versions of the model during the 1980's (Brown, 1986). He also provides updates and chapter summaries at his "Center for Scientific Creation" website.

Brown's model is overwhelmingly rejected by conventional scientists, since it conflicts with extensive geologic evidence that the earth is over 4.5 billion years old, as well as many specific lines of geologic evidence (Morton, 2003). In view of the latter, even many creationists have rejected or strongly questioned the model. One of its serious problems is the need for the proposed water reservoir to be totally sealed within the crust. This precludes any significant earthquakes, meteorite impacts, or even fissures and cracks in the crust anywhere on entire earth, even though such phenomena are well evidenced throughout the geologic record. As Christopher Sharp (2005) notes, Brown gives no satisfactory explanation as to how so much water could be trapped below the upper layer of rock, and how that upper layer remained impervious until the flood. As demonstrated by Glenn Morton (a geologist and former creationist), the earth's surface would also have to be almost perfectly smooth--lacking any mountains or even hills-- or the crust would buckle in places and release the waters (Morton, 2003). Yet according to the Bible (Genesis 49:26) there were mountains before the Flood, which Brown accepts and even shows in a diagram (fig. 56) on his website. Another major problem is the immense heat that would be generated during the proposed cataclysmic eruption (Castagnoli, 2009; Morton, 2003; Sharp, 2005). The magnitude of such heat would have literally boiled the oceans and poached all animals and humans, including the inhabitants of Noah's ark. Appealing to supposed experiments with "supercritical" water, Brown claims the heat would be insignificant, but the calculations of critics with appear to effectively demonstrate that the heat would indeed be more than lethal.

Brown's claim that all of the comets, meteoroids, and asteroids in our solar system originated from earth during the hydroplate explosion has also been shown to be entirely untenable (Sharp, 2005), even considering only currently orbiting comets and asteroids, let alone the millions that have already impacted on moons and planets in our solar system (as indicated by the heavy cratering on such bodies), or the mass of the earth's moon and other moons, which Brown implies were also formed from rock ejected from the earth. Sharp calculated that the energy released in ejecting just the still-existing asteroids is the equivalent to approximately twenty trillion hydrogen bombs. He remarks, "The mind completely boggles how Noah and his family, together with his menagerie of animals and plants could have possibly survived all this in a large wooden boat!" Sharp (2005) further noted, "We can calculate the motions of the asteroids back in time, and find no evidence at all that they originated from the earth, or the vicinity of the earth’s orbit, a few thousand years ago. Indeed, their orbits correspond to them being in existence in many cases for billions of years, as determined from long term stability calculations taking account of the perturbations of the planets..." Brown's astronomical claims are also contradicted by the Baptistina asteroid family, which have similar orbits and evidently were produced by an ancient collision of two large asteroids. By tracing the orbits of the resulting asteroids back in time, augmented with data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, astrophysicists have calculated that the original collision occurred about 80 million years ago (Rationalwiki, 2012).
Microfossils abundant
in limestone deposits
Ammonite fossil from the White
Cliffs of Dover, England

Brown greatly oversimplifies many aspects of geology. For example, he states: "Earth’s crust is frequently stratified with layered rock (or strata) composed of cemented sediments. These layers are typically parallel, thin, uniform in thickness, vast in area.... " He asks: "What global process sorted and cemented these sediments? Present processes do not. Why are strata so uniform in hardness?" Actually, rock strata are far from uniform in hardness, thickness, or geographic extent. Even in one outcrop they can vary from very soft and friable layers to incredibly hard beds. Strata also very greatly in grain size, type, and distribution, inclination, and many other features, precisely because they were deposited in many different environments and in many different ways, and often altered or deformed long afterward, not deposited during a single global Flood.

Osark track site, Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas
Sauropod and theropod dinosaur tracks, in Cretaceous
Limestone, Glen Rose, Texas. Many additional layers of
fossiliferous or track-bearing limestone occur above and
below the picture bed. These and many other limestones
were clearly not deposited in the way Brown suggests.
© 2006, Glen J. Kuban
While trying to account for limestones in his hydroplate model, Brown shows a picture of the famous "White Cliffs of Dover" in England--a massive limestone outcrop. He suggests the strata were formed from precipitated calcium during his Flood eruption, and that "a simple, visual examination of limestone grains shows that few are ground-up seashells or corals, as some believe." However, Brown's statements are misleading at best, since no paleontologist claims the Dover Cliffs or most other limestone formations are made of "ground up" macrofossils. What they do maintain, and support with abundant evidence is that most are composed of the accumulated remains of numerous micro-fossils such as foraminifera, coccoliths, and calcareous algae, as microscopic examinations of the rocks readily reveals. The Dover limestones and many others also contain a large number and variety of intact macrofossils that can be easily seen with the naked eye, including ammonites (extinct squid-like creatures with coiled shells), mollusks, echinoids (urchins), brachiopods, sponges, corals, crinoids, and shark teeth (Shepherd, 2012). Moreover, the fossils in a particular limestone formation are consistently characteristic of a specific geologic period (Cretaceous in the case of the Dover Cliffs)-- with the many of the fossil species significantly different from those found in preceding and succeeding periods. This would not be the case if all life forms were living together prior to the Flood as Brown and other YECs assert. Finally, many such limestones include beds with thousands of vertebrate trackways and/or extensive invertebrate burrows (sometimes millions on one surface), as well as numerous surfaces with mud cracks --indicating relatively calm, low-energy environments that dramatically contradict Brown's violent Flood scenario.

Like most creationist Flood models, Brown's is vague on where the Flood occurs in the geologic column the Flood, but implies many if not most sedimentary layers were produced by it. However, no matter where he places it, major problems arise, since every geologic period from PreCambrian onward exhibits evidence for mulitiple episodes of slow deposition and non-deposition. Besides the many tracks and burrows mentioned above, these also include many other trace fossils such as nests, dens, and hives, which cannot form during a violent flood (Kuban, 2006). Nor does Brown adequately explain the pattern of radiometric dates from rocks throughout the world. All but the stratigraphically highest beds yield dates orders of magnitude older than his model allows, and show a consistent, sloping pattern from stratigraphically lower to higher strata. His proposal that radioactive decay rates may have been significantly higher in the past is lacking in any credible evidence, and is contradicted by rigorous studies (Isaac, 2004). Even if it were true, it would not yield the sloping pattern of dates mentioned above, since in his model most rocks are essentially the same age--only a few thousand years old. A higher decay rate would also exacerbate the heat problem already inherent in Brown's model. As demonstrated by Meert (2002), "Radioactive decay at a rate fast enough to permit a young earth would have produced enough heat to melt the earth."

Since Brown implies most sedimentary rocks were derived from the violently eroded walls of the supposed 10-mile thick layer of granite above the water reservoir, we would expect virtually all the earth's sedimentary strata would be made of eroded granite, which not the the case. Earth's strata are far more complex and variable, as shown in the examples described earlier (and many more that could be offered). A similar problem also exists Brown's claim about the earthly origin of comets, meteoroids, and asteroids. Brown describes them as "earth like" in composition, but their composition is also highly variable and often contain significantly more iron and nickel than is common in the earth's crust. Indeed, according to his model these bodies should be made almost entirely of granite (and perhaps ice), since they, like the earth's strata, are claimed to be derived from a granite crust over subterranean waters.

Near and Far Sides of the Moon
Near site (left) and far side (right) of the moon. Credit: NASA.
In an apparent effort to support his theory that most comets and asterpoids originated on earth, Brown suggests the near side of the moon received far more and larger impacts than the far side. However, photos of the "far side" of the moon shows more craters than the near side, of many different sizes, including many large ones. Brown acknowledges that the near side is smoother, but ironically, attributes this to vulcanism (as do conventional scientists) caused by a greater number of impacts. But if the vulcanism hides the greater impacts, then he's at best making a circular argument. More to the point, the far side of the moon is obviously heavily cratered, even though his model predicts it should be largely devoid of impacts, since he implies most lunar impacts were caused by rocks traveling directly from earth.

In other attempts to support young-earthism and discredit mainstream geology, Brown lists a number of supposed astronomic and geologic anomalies, including alleged out-of-place fossils, but every example is either dubious or has been well refuted. Equally problematic is what he does not reveal, including the fact that trillions of fossils and tracks have been found in the expected evolutionary order all over the world, a situation entirely at odds with his model. Nor does he explain why we don't find any fossils of dogs, cats, rhinos, hippos, elephants, cammels, whales, and scores of other large modern mammal groups anywhere in the entire Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, where millions of fossils and tracks of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures are found, as expected by conventional geology. Brown did remove from his website a few unfounded claims (such as those about a "shrinking sun", "missing neutrinos, and a modern "Japanese plesiosaur") in the wake of compelling refutations by others (Van till, 1986; Bahcall, 2004; Kuban, 1997). However, he continues to make many other unfounded assertions and insinuations. For example, he encourages the long-discredited notion that the famous fossil Archaeopteryx, showing both bird and reptile traits, is a forgery--supposedly having had feathers impressions artificially added. This suggestion has been thoroughly debunked by paleontologists, and largely rejected even by other creationists, who accept the reality of the fossil (even though they reject it as a transitional form). Still other examples of baseless claims by Brown are detailed in a review of Brown's book by physicist Gerard Jellison (2009).

Brown's model even appears to conflict with the Bible, despite his young earth views apparently stemming from a narrow reading of Genesis. Besides the problem mentioned earlier concerning pre-Flood mountains, his proposal that the subterranean water erupted due to increasing pressure from "centuries of tidal pumping" implies the Flood was due to a natural, inevitable cause, rather than God's response to humanity's rampant wickedness as indicated in Genesis (6: 5-7).

Brown has issued a challenge to evolutionists to debate him on his hydroplate theory, but has stipulated a number of questionable and one-sided conditions, and repeatedly evaded attempts by mainstream scientists to accept his offer (Foley, 2004; Isaac, 2004; Meert, 2006; Castagnoli, 2009; Jellison, 2009). However, it really does not matter, because scientific issues are not settled in public debates, but through detailed scientific papers and reviews by other scientists. To my knowledge Brown has not published his theory in any peer-reviewed scientific journal, or even the quasi-scientific YEC journals, nor even submitted a manuscript to such publications. He often bemoans evolutionist bias, but according to Answers in Genesis (the most prominent YEC group), when he was invited to submit a manuscript to their Technical Journal, he declined. Neveretheless, to the extent his model has been described and promoted through his book and website, it has also been critiqued by a number of authors in web and journal articles, where it's core premise, as well as countless details, have been shown to be contradicted by extensive evidence.

Conclusions

The hydroplate model is a creative but woefully deficient model of earth history, flying in the face of many lines of evidence from geology, paleontology, physics, and math. It has not been properly published in scientific journals, and is not supported by mainstream scientists, or even most creationists with backgrounds in relevant fields.

References

AIG, 2008, Anonymous article at Answers in Genesis Website, at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/wog/white-cliffs-dover

Arthur, Joyce, 1995, A Few Silly Flaws In Walter Brown's Hydroplate Theory. Website article at: http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/hydro.html. Note: Brown had made a number of modifications to his theory since Joyce's article, but many of her criticisms are still valid.

Bahcall, John N. 2004. Solving the Mystery of the Missing Neutrinos. Web article at: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/articles/bahcall/index.html

Brown, Walter T., The Fountains of the Deep, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986), p. 23-38.

Brown, Walter T., 2008, In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, 8th Edition. Website at: http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/index.html

Castagnoli, Geno, 2009, Email communications. Castagnoli described many ways in which Brown repeatedly threw up road blocks and unfair terms to avoid a debate.

Foley, Jim, 2004, More on Walter Brown's debate offer. Talk-Origins arcive article at: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/wbrown2.html.

Isaac, Mark, 2003, Claim CA342 (Index of Creationist Claims). Talk Origins website article at: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA342.html

Isaac, Mark, 2004, Claim CF210 (Index of Creationist Claims). Talk Origins website article at: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CF/CF210.html

Jellison, Gerard, 2009. Wrong and I Can Prove it. Amazon.com review of Walter Brown's book, found at: http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Compelling-Evidence-Creation-Flood/dp/1878026097 and at: http://paleo.cc/ce/wbrown-jellison-review.htm

Kuban, Glen, 1997. Sea-monster or Shark? An Analysis of a Supposed Plesiosaur Carcass Netted in 1977. Reports of the National Center for Science Education, May/June 1997, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 16-28. Web version at: http://paleo.cc/paluxy/plesios.htm

Kuban, Glen, 2006. Fossil Tracks and Other Trace Fossils Falsify Flood Geology. Web article at: http://paleo.cc/ce/tracefos.htm

Matson, Dave. 2002. How Good are Those Creationist Arguments? Talk Origins archive article at: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/hovind/howgood-yea.html#proof1

Matson, Dave, 1995. Youngearth "proof" #1: The sun is shrinking at 5 feet/hour which limits the earth-sun relationship to less than 5 million years. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dave_matson/young-earth/specific_arguments/sun_shrinking.html.

Meert, Joe, 2002. Were Adam And Eve Toast? Web article at: http://gondwanaresearch.com/hp/adam.htm

Meert, Joe, 2006. Walt Brown's Pseudochallenge. Web article at: http://gondwanaresearch.com/hp/walt_brown.htm

Morton, Glenn, 2003, Walter Brown's Hydroplate Model. Website article at: http://www.oldearth.org/walter_brown_hydroplate_theory.htm.

Plotner, Tammy, 2011. "Did Asteroid Baptistina Kill the Dinosaurs? Think other WISE..." Universe Today.

RationalWiki. 2012. Evidence against a recent creation. Website at: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_against_a_recent_creation

Sharp, Christopher, 2005, Walt Brown's Hydroplate Therory. Website essay at: http://www.csharp.com/hydroplate.html

Sheperd, Roy, 2012. Discovering Fossils: Introducing the Paleontology of Great Britian. Website at: http://www.discoveringfossils.co.uk/dover_kent_fossils.htm

Van Till, Howard. 1986. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun- A Case Study Comparing Professional Science and "Creation Science" in Action. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 38.3:164-174. Web version at: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1986/PSCF9-86VanTill.html