The Boat Shaped Formation

John D. Morris, Ph.D.
Professor of Geology
Institute for Creation Research


Much information has been gathered over the last 40 years or so which indicates that the remains of Noah's Ark may still exist on Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey. Numerous expeditions, including many which I have personally lead, [sic] have attempted to discover the Ark's whereabouts, but to date none have been completely successful. Some possible sites and claims have been checked out and disproved.

One of the points of interest which has been researched concerns an unusual rock formation about 20 miles away from the mountain. First discovered from the air many years ago it has been well studied by numerous scientists, and nearly all are convinced that it is of geologic significance only. I have personally conducted two rather complete geologic surveys and have had access to most of the subsurface and core-drilling data gathered by others, and am convinced (as is nearly everyone) that nothing there is present which does not have a perfectly rational and simple geologic explanation.

Unfortunately, there are two individuals which feel otherwise, and promote the site as the remains of Noah's Ark. Neither have geologic or archaeologic training, and in their investigations both have used methods which are not reliable in gathering their data. Furthermore, they have not allowed others to see their data, preferring instead to make statements about the data only. Both can give convincing talks on the subject, and both have written books describing their experiences (not their data), but to my knowledge, all who have critically evaluated the site and/or the methods and reports of the two advocates are convinced that both are mistaken. In fact, many of their claims are in direct conflict with facts I and others have gathered at the site.

Briefly, the rock formation has a rather streamlined shape, is of a size consistent with the Biblical dimensions given in cubits, and is within the region called "the mountains of Ararat" in Genesis. However, that is where its similarity with the Genesis Ark ends. The formation is situated in a sloping valley and is surrounded by a deposit of loose soil and crushed rock which is slowly sliding down hill, flowing much as a glacier flows. The formation (properly called the Durupinar Site after its discoverer, Ilhan Durupinar) consists of a stable area around which the material flows, and just as does water when it flows around a rock in a stream bed, the site has acquired a streamlined shape, due to the dynamics of the slowly flowing material. It's sides, which are in places nearly vertical, are abraded by the flow, and are in their character exactly equivalent to the scoured vertical walls on the hillsides adjacent to the valley. The material with the formation is also equivalent to that in the surrounding hillsides.

Samples taken of every rock type in the formation have been chemically analyzed and studied in thin section under a microscope. While it is acknowledged that the rock types are rather exotic, there is nothing present which must be attributed to human construction.

The geologic scenario which is evidently responsible is rather remarkable. The suite of rocks present represent a ophiolite belt, extremely rare on the earth's surface. These (ultra-basic) dark crystalline rocks are the type normally found on the ocean floor, and were squeezed to the surface at this location, in one other locale in Turkey, and in only a few places worldwide. The several rock types give evidence of hydrothermal activity on the ocean floor, and are highly altered. Manganese nodules, frequently found on the ocean floor are also present, and are misinterpreted by some as ""metal fittings" on the Ark, as are occasional rocks high in iron.

Advocates of the site claim to have found linear bands of metallic material representing "beams" in the Ark. These were discovered using a technique commonly known as "dowsing," complete with brass rods held in one's hand, which dip downward or cross in the presence of the desired metal, or so it is claimed. (This is similar to "witching" for water using a forked stick, a practice almost universally condemned by evangelicals. There are no known principles of physics by which it operates.) According to Dr. John Baumgardner, creationist geophysicist and formerly an advocate of the site, the anomalies discerned by this technique were not confirmed by use of a metal detector, which operates on known principles of physics. The presence of manganese modules throughout the area, as well as iron and copper ore nearby render any sober metal detection effort futile.

Dr. Baumgardner has conducted the most careful scientific study to date. Using subsurface radar little was learned. A seismic study indicated the presence of a rather flat planar surface under several feet of soil which was initially thought to indicate the Ark's top deck. Subsequent core drilling, however, revealed that the material was a rock layer, the same rock layer as found outcropping on adjacent hillsides. Although formerly convinced that this formation was probably the remains of the Ark, he now feels that there is less than a 10% chance that anything man-made is present.

Other claims concern the discovery of "anchor stones" nearby. These stones, most of them now used as tombstones are decorated with crosses and inscriptions dating from within the last 1000 years. They are found many miles from the Durupinar site and there is no reason to think they are related at all. Claims regarding Divine leading with "audible" voices leave this investigator unconvinced, as do studies in numerology of Babylonian and Egyptian writings which "specifically locate" this site. What is needed is for the advocates of this site, (which seems to geological and archaeological professionals to be of geological interest only), to make their original data and observations available for study, for if they are right, the evidence will bear it out. As of yet such openness has not been offered. Instead misrepresentation, deception and secrecy rule.

Unfortunately, these two individuals have convinced some Turkish officials to promote this site as the Ark. A "visitor's center" has been constructed nearby and a road sign directing travelers off the main road has been erected. However, perhaps due to the fact that European tour groups taken to the site have by and large been offended that someone would try to pass off a rock as Noah's Ark, as of November 1989, (my most recent trip to the site), the sign had been removed, the visitor's center was not operating, and sheep were grazing on the "Ark," as they used to do before all the excitement. Claims of a six-lane highway to the site are spurious. The one lane, rutted dirt/rock/mud trail has not been improved.

We must keep in mind that the Bible does not prophesy that the Ark will be found in these latter days, although I feel it would be within God's character to do so. The Bible does not even specify a particular mountain. Having studied Mt. Ararat and the surrounding area, one of intense geologic and volcanic turmoil, I have concluded that a wooden structure such as the Ark would not be likely to survive if it had landed there. The only reason to be looking at all is that eyewitnesses claim to have seen the Ark, and while none of them are able to pinpoint the location, the consensus is that the remains were seen on the huge mountain known today as Greater Mt. Ararat, and known throughout history as the traditional resting place of the Ark.

The potential discovery would have incredible impact. Not only would it demolish evolution's foundation of uniformitarianism, but since the Ark is such a precious picture of Christ, i.e. the method of salvation for believers during time of judgment of sin, its discovery would focus the attention of many on our present day Ark of Salvation, Jesus Christ.

I am convinced that, if the Ark still remains, it has been preserved all these years by God for a purpose. It will be found only when He is ready, when His eternal timetable calls for it, and in a way that will bring Him the glory. He will melt the glacier, move the rock or do whatever it takes to reveal the Ark to a lost and dying world that needs it so.

Until then, the search will continue as He leads and allows, with several efforts being planned for the summer of 1990. Christians are asked to pray for the preparation, funding, safety and success of these efforts, and that hearts will respond once the Ark is revealed.


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