Thursday, April 06, 2006

Paleolimnology: How To Walk On Water

Is there a paleolimnological explanation for “walking on water” in the Sea of Galilee? by Doron Nof, et al. Journal of Paleolimnology 35: 417-439.

From the FSU press release:
The New Testament story describes Jesus walking on water in the Sea of Galilee but according to a study led by Florida State University Professor of Oceanography Doron Nof, it's more likely that he walked on an isolated patch of floating ice.
The study points to a rare combination of optimal water and atmospheric conditions for development of a unique, localized freezing phenomenon that Nof and his co-authors call "springs ice."

In what is now northern Israel, such ice could have formed on the cold freshwater surface of the Sea of Galilee –– known as Lake Kinneret by modern-day Israelis –– when already chilly temperatures briefly plummeted during one of the two protracted cold periods between 2,500 and 1,500 years ago.

A frozen patch floating on the surface of the small lake would have been difficult to distinguish from the unfrozen water surrounding it. The unfrozen water was comprised of the plumes resulting from salty springs situated along the lake's western shore in Tabgha –– an area where many archeological findings related to Jesus have been documented.

"As natural scientists, we simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years," Nof said. "We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account."

It isn't the first time the FSU researcher has offered scientific explanations of watery miracles. As a recognized expert in the field of oceanography and limnology –– the study of freshwater, saline and brackish environments –– Nof made waves worldwide in 1992 with his oceanographic perspective on the parting of the Red Sea.