"VITAL ARTICLES ON SCIENCE/CREATION"
No.98 - SPRINGS OF THE OCEAN
by Steven A. Austin, Ph.D.
One of the most profound and moving experiences in the life of the
Old Testament patriarch Job must have been his encounter with a
whirlwind. At a time when Job's undeserved suffering led him to a
point of despair, God questioned Job from the whirlwind concerning
his knowledge of Creation (see Job, Chapter 38). God confirmed
his sovereignty and justice by giving what must rank as the
greatest science test of all time.
Among the most thought provoking of God's questions to Job
was, "Have you entered into the springs of the sea?" (Job 38:16a).
The word for "springs" is NEBEK (transliterated from Hebrew), an
unusual word referring to the places where water issues or bursts
out of the earth. Job must have pondered this question with
amazement, for although he had seen many springs on the land, he
had no experience with undersea springs. Today we know why. The
ocean is very deep; almost all the ocean floor is in total
darkness; the pressure there is enormous. It would have been
impossible for Job to have explored the "springs of the sea."
Other Old Testament passages refer to springs of the sea.
Genesis 7:11 describes the cause of Noah's Flood and says that the
"fountains of the great deep were broken up and the floodgates of
heaven were opened." In the phrase "fountains of the great deep,"
the word "fountains" is MAYANOTH in the Hebrew and refers to
"springs" or something similar in many other passages in the Old
Testament. The phrase also mentions the "deep." The "deep" is the
Hebrew TEHOM that is mentioned in Genesis 1:2, where God's Spirit
brooded upon the face of the "waters," or the "deep."
Psalm 33:6-9 describes springs in the ocean relating them to
thel.r creation. The Psalmist says, "By the Word of the Lord were
the heavens made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up
the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord, let
all the habitants of the world stand in awe before Him; for He
spoke and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast." So, from
the beginning of the creation, this passage is saying that the
waters of the sea were heaped together. In characteristic Hebrew
style this is rephrased in Psalm 33:7b as, "He lays up the deeps
in storehouses." So, there is some vessel which is containing a
portion of the deeps from the original creation.
Proverbs 8 contains an interesting personification of
wisdoryi, where Wisdom speaks. Beginning at verse 22 we read,
"When there were no depths, I (Wisdom) was brought forth; when
there were no springs abounding with water, before the mountains
were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth." Then verse
28 of Proverbs 8 says, "When he made firm the skies above, and the
springs of the deep became fixed." Here is another direct
reference to springs being in the ocean.
There are four main points in this matter that the Old
Testament affirms. First, the Old Testament asserts positively
that springs do exist in the ocean. The source of this knowledge
claims omniscience and is allowing that omniscience to be tested
by scientific investigation of the ocean floor. Second, the
undersea springs are said to have been established at the earth's
creation. Third, the Flood of Noah is claimed to have been
caused, at least in part, by an unusual activity of ocean floor
springs. Finally, springs are mentioned so we can marvel at the
wisdom and power of God.
The discovery of ocean floor springs represents a great
milestone in the scientific investigation of the earth. Before
1930 little was known about the ocean floor. Volcanoes were
observed to break the sea surface and this provided evidence of
undersea volcaiiisin. Beciuse modern volcanoes on land emit
steam, scientists suggested that water might be coming out of
volcanoes on the ocean floor.
The deep sea dives of William Beebe's bathysphere in the
1930's provided a close look at the ocean floor, but no springs
were observed. In the 1940's mapping of undersea topography was
under way using the echo sounder. Thousands of undersea volcanoes
called "seamounts" and "guyots" were recognized and speculation
about undersea springs increased. In the 1960's metal-rich, hot
brines were discovered using sonar iii the bottom of the Red Sea.
This brine was an indirect evidence of water coming out of the
ocean floor. Aided by reports from Mexican abalone divers,
scientists using scuba equipment located shallow-water hot springs
along the coast of Baja California in the late 1960s.
Vent in the seafloor where hot water issues from the earth into the ocean.
Deep diving research submarines have been constructed to
withstand the three-tons-per-square-inch pressure at the ocean
floor. These submarines have carried scientists into the deep.
The first direct observations of deepsea springs, or their
mineralized vents, appear to have been made on the Mid Atlantic
Ridge by Project FAMOUS in 1973. Spectacular hot springs were
then discovered on the Galapagos Rift in the Pacific Ocean by the
23-foot long submersible Aluin in 1977. Alum also explored,
photographed and sampled hot springs on the East Pacific Rise just
south of the Gulf of California in 1979. The research continues.
Several nontechnical magazine reports present photographs and
descriptions of these recently discovered seafloor springs. The
Galapagos Rift springs are described in the November 1979 issue of
National Geographic. The article is titled "Incredible World of
the Deep sea Rifts" and bears the caption: "Scientists explore
rifts in the seafloor where hot springs spew minerals and
startling life exists iii a strange world without sun.
The East Pacific Rise springs are shown in Science News,
January 12, 1980. This article is titled, "Smokers, Red Worms,
and Deep Sea Plumbing" and is followed by the caption; "Sea floor
oases of mineral-rich springs and amazing creatures fulfill
oceanographers' dreams." The discovery of these deep ocean springs
is said to be the "most significant oceanographic find since the
discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge."
The hot springs have been called "black smokers." The "Smoke"
is the dark, mineral-laden, hot (up to 400'C) water spewing from
"chimneys" up to 15-feet tall atop mounds of minerals up to
60-feet high. The minerals coating the vents are largely sulfides
of copper, iron and zinc precipitated instantly as the hot geysers
contact the cold seawater. The vents provide the habitat for the
first community of animals to be discovered which does not obtain
energy by way of photosynthesis. Animals collected include
red-tipped tube worms, giant clams, mussels, sea worms, crabs,
The Science News article describes the East Pacific
the researchers found about two dozen hot springs stretched
along 6 km of the half-kilometer wide spreading center. But next
to these angry-looking, superheated geysers-called "smokers"-the
Galapagos Rift vents looked like tepid sprinklers. Not only was
the gushing water about 300'C hotter (the first attempt to measure
the water temperature melted Alvin's heat probe), but around the
chimneys lay mounds of minerals including copper, iron, zinc and
sulfur with lesser amounts of cobalt, lead, silver and cadmium.
Like the Galapagos, however, the same animals, with the exception
of the mussels, were clustered in fields near the vents.
Although scientists have examined only a small portion of
ocean floor, seafloor springs appear to be common along the
40,000-mile Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. Dr. John M. Edmond of
M.I.T. suggests that water circulation through oceanic springs is
a major geologic process; he estimates that 40 cubic miles of
water flow out of earth's oceanic springs each year. If this is
so, then mineralization must be an important process on the sea
floor, and study of ocean springs may promote understanding and
location of ore deposits. Ocean springs are also a vast, untapped
source of geothermal energy, which, unfortunately, is located far
from the major population and energy demand areas.
The discovery of ocean springs ranks as one of the foremost
scientific accomplishments of the last ten years. Let us
remember, however, that their existence was known thousands of
years ago. Surely, God spoke through men by means of His Holy
Ballard, Robert D., and Grissle, J. Frederick, "Incredible World
of Deep-sea Rifts," National Geographic, V. 156, No. 5, November
1979, pp. 680-705.
West, Susan, "Smokers, Red Worms, dnd Deep Sea Plumbing," Science
News, V. 117, No. 2, January 12, 1980, pp. 28-30.
Corliss, John B., et al., "Submarine Thermal Springs on the
Galapagos Rift," Science, V. 203, No. 4385, March 16, 1979, pp.