Catastrophe at Work


It’s not only creationists who point to the role of catastrophic events in shaping earth’s geologic history. A new study sheds light on how Britain was separated from the rest of Europe by a “super-river.”

Scientists publishing in Quaternary Science Reviews examined sediments from the bed of the Bay of Biscay (to the west of France) in a bid to better understand the formation of the English Channel (which separates Britain from France and the rest of Europe). According to the team, a “super-river” known as the Fleuve Manche (or Channel River) carved the channel after a glacial lake overflowed.

The researchers’ story begins some 500,000 years ago, when (according to them) Britain was connected to France via a land bridge near Dover (which today is Britain’s nearest point to France). During an ice age 450,000 years ago, water stuck between ice sheets formed a large glacial lake “behind” the land bridge.

The researchers dated the sediments they gathered from the Bay of Biscay and claim they were deposited by the super-river in three separate incarnations: one 450,000 years ago, another 160,000 years ago, and a third less than 100,000 years ago. During ice ages the sea level fell, opening the land bridge so that Britain was connected to Europe. Each time, the lake eventually overflowed and the super-river split Britain from the continent. Not only that, but the consequential “megafloods,” as the Daily Mail puts it, carved through chalk beds, resulting in Dover’s famous white cliffs.1

Although the research is interesting, the idea that the English Channel was carved by a megaflood isn’t new. We last reported on it in July 2007, when we wrote:

Let’s take stock here: an enormous amount of water, a short timeframe, evidence of water-gouged landforms, and a large basin left behind. Does this sound strangely familiar? . . . According to a biblical interpretation, it is likely that the Channel was formed at some point after the waters receded from the one true “mega-Flood” that the world has experienced. For more information on the likely scenario concerning this event, see “Flood Cuts off Europe.”

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  1. Claire Bates, “How a Prehistoric ‘Super River’ Turned Britian into an Island Nation,” The Daily Mail, November 30, 2009,


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