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Noah, better get more arks. Over hundreds of millennia large floods drowned the Black Sea and its environs over and over again, a new study shows.
Using chemical cues stuck in cave stalagmites, an international team of researchers has drawn up the most complete record to date of Black Sea flooding. And the sea’s history is stormy indeed, researchers report online March 13 in Nature Geoscience. The Mediterranean may have rushed over Turkey and into the Black Sea at least 12 times over the past 670,000 years.
Flood studies aren’t interesting just for cradle-of-civilization fans. Geologists can infer a lot about ancient Eurasian glaciers from these records. Biologists, too, will be able to explore how the region’s plants and animals responded to the frequent soakings. “The faunal assemblage has changed dramatically between the lake and the marine times,” he says.
Biblical historians may want to take note as well. Ryan and colleagues previously proposed that the most recent Black Sea flood may have been literally biblical, with sea waters surging into Turkey in a relatively short time span. The theory gained a lot of attention because this disaster about 7,000 years ago could have inspired flood legends like Noah’s Earth-drowning deluge. Fleitmann, however, thinks this Mediterranean spillover was more of a trickle. “I think it was a gradual change,” he says.
So Noah would’ve had plenty of time to build his ark.