Did an Astronomical Body Cause the Global Floods of Ancient Myths with Its Gravitational Tidal Floods? - Part 2
This is the concluding part of a two-part article that offers a unifying scientific hypothesis that connects diverse ancient flood myths with mainstream scientific fact.
Part 1 offered scientific facts which seem to tally with the many flood stories that exist around the world. Having established the likelihood of a massive global event, it suggested the possibility that an event of this kind could be caused by a close encounter by an astronomical object.
This section will consider whether the science allows this theory to be viable.
The Path of Destruction
Here, I have plotted all the flood myth locations as per Graham Hancock’s research and overlaid a possible ground track (see definition below) where the body’s gravitational pull would have generated the highest levels of tidal flood. In the Pacific Ocean this tidal wave would have spread out wide to hit the whole west coast of the Americas.
Flood Myth Locations (Circled) with suggested ground Track-Tidal Wave Path. (Author provided)
A ground track is the path on the surface of the Earth directly below a satellite. It is the projection of the satellite's orbit onto the surface of the Earth (or whatever body the satellite is orbiting).
A satellite ground track may be thought of as a path along the Earth's surface which traces the movement of an imaginary line between the satellite and the center of the Earth. In other words, the ground track is the set of points at which the satellite will pass directly overhead, or cross the zenith, in the frame of reference of a ground observer.
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Example of a ground track. (Author provided)
A gravitational cataclysm would not only cause immense tidal floods but also earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and it would be followed by the associated volcanic winter, a freeze causing plants to die and species’ habitat destruction.
So, how large would such a space body need to be and would it not affect Earth’s orbit?
In order to calculate the gravitational force between two objects with masses of m1 and m2 , the equation is: where G is the gravitational constant (6.67E-11 m3 s-2 kg-1), r is the distance between the two objects, and F is the magnitude of the force between the objects.
Some Facts, Numbers and Assumptions
Earth’s mass: 5.97237×10 24 kg
Moon’s mass: 7.342×10 22 kg
Earth’s mean radius – 6371 km (3958.75 miles)
The Moon's average orbital distance at the present time: 384,40 km (238.86 miles)
Astronomical bodies larger than 400km (248.55 miles) have enough gravitational pull to assume a spherical shape.
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The average height (amplitude) of oceanic tides caused by the moon is about 0.54 meters (1.77 ft.) As 80% of humanity lives near a coastline, or in lowland plains, a catastrophic supertide/tsunami that could devastate coastal valleys and flatlands needn’t be more than 50-100 meters (164.04-328.08 ft.) in height.
The Flood (Die Sintflut, Suendflut) by Lesser Ury. ( The Commons )
This means that the gravitational pull needed to create it needs to be a near 50-100 times stronger than the Earth currently experiences from the moon. This however doesn’t require an object 50-100 times larger than the moon, the gravity equation above allows us to have a much smaller body that flies much closer to the earth. This is because gravity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. But not the mass. To illustrate this, imagine we halved the moon’s mass and at the same time brought it halfway closer to the earth, then the gravitational force would be doubled!
We can divide both these values by 50 to get a distance of around 8000 km (4970.97 miles) and a volume of around 400 k m3, which translates to approximately 900 km (559.23 miles) diameter. This will give us a gravitational pull of 50 times the moon.
If my calculations and assumptions are correct, an object of around 900 km in diameter passing the earth at an altitude of less than 1000 kilometers (621.37 miles) (of average, rocky density) would be large and heavy enough to create a strong localized tidal uplift in the oceans beneath its flight path (approximately 50 times the current tidal amplitude). That is large enough to destroy most of humankind, and a large portion of the fauna, but small enough to not cause a major extinction event or to disturb earth’s orbital path and rotation.
A huge meteor flew over the Urals in Russia early in the morning of 02/15/2013. The fireball exploded above Chelyabinsk city that caused damages of buildings and hundreds of people were injured. (Alex Alishevskikh/ CC BY SA 2.0 )
Top image: Meteor strike. ( Public Domain )
By Kirk Kirchev
Hancock, Graham. Fingerprints of the Gods 1996 p.202-214
John Bierhorst. The Mythology of South America 1988, p 165
Edwards, L. Humans were Once an Endangered Species 2010. Phys.org https://phys.org/news/2010-01-humans-endangered-species.html
Smithsonian. What Really Killed Off the Woolly Mammoth? Smithsonian https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/science/what-really-killed-off-the-woolly-mammoth/