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Images: Noah's Not-so-big Flood

A provocative theory proposed in 1997 that water levels in “Black Lake” were 80 meters lower than today. When the Aegean and Black Seas were reconnected 9,400 years ago, the resulting would have drowned about 70,000 square kilometers. New evidence indicates that the lake’s water level was only 30 meters lower than today, and so the flood inundated only about 2,000 square kilometers. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Top: When sea levels were lower 10,000 years ago, the Black Sea was a large freshwater Black Lake. It was dammed off from the salty Mediterranean Sea by the then high-and-dry Bosphorus Sill. Some say the water level in Black Lake was 80 meters lower than it is today, but new research claims it was only 30 meters lower.

Bottom: Why is that important? Because as the ice age waned and sea levels rose, water overtopped the Bosphorus Sill into Black Lake. A controversial theory says this might be the source of the Noah's flood story, but a new study claims that the Black Sea rose only about 5 to 10 meters, not a more catastrophic 50 to 60 meters. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan at work on a core in WHOI's McLean lab. Giosan and his colleagues used cores from the delta of the Danube River, which empties into the Black Sea, to reconstruct sea level for the Black Sea and determine if it was catastrophically flooded around 9,400 years ago. Their work showed that flood occurred at all, it was much smaller than previously proposed by other researchers. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

In 2007, WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan and his colleagues drilled a 42-meter-deep core through sediments that have piled up since the early Danube delta began forming before 10,000 years ago.