How much of the Earth was covered with Water?

Some people claim that the flood of Noah’s time was only a local flood, which was confined to somewhere around the Mesopotamian region and never really covered the whole earth. They teach that it was only ‘universal’ and ‘worldwide’ to the limited extent of human habitation at that time. However, the local flood idea clearly disagrees with Scripture and faces the following problems:

The Need for the Ark  

If the flood were local, there was no need for Noah to spend 120 years building an ark. God could have told Noah and his family to flee to a particular area to escape the flood, as He warned Lot to flee to escape the judgement of Sodom. I’m sure Noah and his family would have made it to a safe region in a lot less time than 120 years! Land animals and birds could have migrated out of the danger zone, rather than enduring over a year on a barge.

The Size of the Ark  

If the flood were local, why was the ark big enough to hold all the different ‘kinds’ of land animals and birds? If only Mesopotamian animals were aboard, or only domestic animals, the ark could have been much smaller. The size of the ark only makes sense if the Flood were global.

The Testimony of Scripture in Genesis chapters 6-9

Take time to look up the Bible verses if you want to really benefit from this study

God said that He would destroy ‘all flesh’ ‘with the earth’ (Genesis 6v13). This clearly implies a global flood.

Carefully read Genesis chapters 6-9, noting the use of the words ‘earth’ and ‘flood’, as well as the use of universal words like ‘all’ and ‘every’. As you carefully consider these words within the context of this passage, you will have to conclude that this was no local flood.

The use of the universal terms ‘all’ and ‘whole’ in Genesis 7v19-20 emphasises that every mountain under the entire heavens was covered with water, and lest there should still be any doubt in the reader’s mind the concluding clause ‘and the mountains were covered’ is added.

The mountains were covered to a depth of at least 15 cubits (Genesis 7v20). As water seeks its own level, and every mountain under the entire heavens was covered with water to a depth of at least 15 cubits, how was it not a global flood?

Genesis 7v21-24 very strongly emphasises that every person, land animal, and bird not in the Ark was drowned in this great global flood.

The Duration of the Flood  

After 40 days the flood had covered all the mountains and continued to do so until 150 days from the onset, when the waters started to subside and the Ark grounded on Ararat. About 10 weeks later only the mountain peaks were seen. Noah, his family, and the animals were on that Ark altogether for over a year (cp. Genesis 7v10-12, 17-20,21; 8v1-5, 13-19). How could a flood of such depth and duration only cover a portion of the earth’s surface?

The Rainbow Covenant

(Genesis 8v21; 9v11-15). God promised to never send such a flood again. This promise has been broken repeatedly if only a local flood occurred.

Jesus Christ taught that the Judgement was Universal.

If the flood were local, people who did not happen to be living in the vicinity would not have been affected by it. They would have escaped God’s judgement on sin. Jesus Christ taught that the Flood killed everyone not on the ark (Matthew 24v37-39; Luke 17v26-27). Those who believe in a local flood generally say that people were on earth for tens of thousands of years before the Flood. If this were so, it is inconceivable that all the people could have fitted in a localised valley in Mesopotamia, or that they had not migrated further afield as the population grew and violence increased.

Noah’s Flood is a type of Coming Judgement

(2 Peter 3v3-7). A partial judgement in Noah’s day would mean a partial judgement to come. However, Peter is clearly seeking to show that, just as God judged the entire earth in Noah’s day by a worldwide flood, so God will one day judge this entire world by fire.

Thus, the Genesis Flood covered the entire earth and destroyed every person outside the shelter of Noah’s Ark. It was not a local flood confined to the Mesopotamian Valley and destroying only those within its reach.

How was Mt Everest covered?

Mount Everest is more than 8km (5 miles) high, so how could it have been covered with water?

The mountains before the flood were not as high as the mountains today. Noah’s Flood changed the geography of this world.

Even the high mountains of today have fossils of sea creatures near their peaks. There are fossil-bearing, water-deposited layers in the uppermost parts of Mount Everest.

For further information on creation/evolution issues visit:

Answers in Genesis
Creation Ministries International