Drumlins and Diluvial Currents
[Originally published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 16(3):154-162, December 1979.]
When considered as the effects of currents of the deluge, drumlins can
be quite easily explained. Their distribution patterns provide information
about the way in which the flood waters retreated from the land.
Drumlins are sometimes said to provide evidence for glaciation, but the problems in accounting for their structure and distribution may also be said to provide negative evidence, or an argument against the glacial theory. In any theory proposed to explain drumlins, the following characteristics, some of which appear to be antagonistic to a glacial origin, must be considered:
This idea of a wave motion in the ice sheet was popularized by 0.D. von Engeln, who developed a concept proposed earlier by Otto Fluckiger. The movement of the ice, it was said, was analogous to fluid flow, and "the interior ice flow proceeds in a series of great waves."  But this proposal received severe criticism from Max Demorest, who pointed out that the viscosity of ice is so high, the critical velocity of an ice current, at which vortices or other turbulent effects such as waves might be formed, had been calculated to be of the order of the speed of light! Demorest concluded: "...one can hardly believe in the correctness of Fluckiger's assumption that the ice is or can be undulatory in its motion." 
The existence of rhythmic wave properties in the ice sheets was supported by Gravenor and Meneley in a paper on glacial flutings in bedrock in Alberta, which suggested that the "waves" caused regular transverse spacing of parallel ridges, due to the lateral movement of the ice in the troughs. These authors stated:
The wavelength must...be controlled by some physical property of the glacier ice which gives rise to periodic variations in erosive capacity in a direction transverse to the direction of flow. Until more is known about the physics of ice flow it is impossible to suggest a reason for the periodic variation of the erosive capacity of ice. A study of glacial flutings in bedrock in Greenland cited this proposed mechanism, and referred to the possibility of ice flow in "tubular vortices:"
To operate the lateral transport of material in the ice, or the rhythmic variation in the intensity of erosion, Shaw invoked ice flow in tubular vortices, which could possibly be generated by the lateral pressure gradient arising from longitudinal crevassing in the glacier.Smalley and Unwin developed a theory of drumlin formation which depended upon the properties of till, rather than the ice itself. They pointed out that most theories assume "some unspecified process" has operated in the ice sheets of the past. They wrote:
Few, if any, of the so-called theories are actually theories, if a theory is required to account for the formation of a streamlined hill of till or rock. Most "theories" are really suggestions for boundary conditions within which some unspecified process operates, and the stipulated conditions may be remarkably imprecise... Although much has been written on drumlins, very little hard fact has emerged. In an attempt to explain the formation of drumlins, S. Aronow suggested "recourse must be had to 'something' in the now vanished ice sheet." A transcendental quality seems to be imputed to the ice of the glacial theory, by such statements, an approach denounced long ago by Sir Henry H. Howorth:
It has been my continual complaint for years (Cassandra's voice I know it has been) that the glacialists who appeal to a transcendental ice period have never attempted to show what is the first element in the problem, namely, that ice is capable of the effects which they deduce from it. The bankruptcy of the glacial theory seems evident from the acknowledged failure to explain drumlins after more than a hundred years of investigation. J. Menzies stated, in a review of the problem of drumlin origin:
Drumlins remain a major problem in glacial geomorphology such that no satisfactory explanation to their mode of origin exists. A new approach to the problem of the origin of drumlins is provided by my theory of a mechanism of drift formation, due to a process of in situ rock disintegration. The currents of the deluge explain many of the erosional effects which have been attributed to the ice sheets, such as the excavation of the basins of the Great Lakes, and the streamlining effects of currents explains the drumlins.
These streamlined hills of the crag-and-tail type were investigated by Sir James Hall, a friend and admirer of James Hutton. Hall suggested catastrophic waves from the sea, caused by rapid uplifts of the earth's crust, accompanied by earthquakes, had swept across Scotland and formed the streamlined ridges. 
Hall claimed these diluvial waves not only formed streamlined hills, but swept along great volumes of drift, with erratic boulders derived from sources in the north, and deposited this load of debris on the lee sides of rock outcrops in Scotland. All this, Hall believed, could be reconciled with the Huttonian Theory.
J.K. Charlesworth described these crag-and-tail structures in Edinburgh as follows:
The impact side, which is scraped bare, is commonly steep or precipitous and, as at Castle Rock, has a horse-shoe shaped valley half encircling its base and extending leewards as lateral grooves which gradually diminish in cross-section... The frontal groove, sometimes undercut or occupied by a rock-basin, may be missing if the obstacle had a lifting effect... The tail frequently descends from the very summit of the hill in a smooth, gentle slope whose length depends upon the height of the boss: it may range from several kilometres to only a few metres.... The tail may be solid or may consist of drift... Tails of drift are very common; crags resemble boulders in a river bed with tails of sedi- ment pointing downstream - the resemblance led Sir J. Hall to invoke strong currents for the Scottish crags and tails. The diluvial explanation proposed by Hall was well suited for the streamlined hills of Edinburgh, but could not also account for the presence of parallel grooves and striations on the rock surfaces under the drift, and it was these that some thirty years later were to lead to the adoption of the theory of ice sheets transporting and depositing the drift of the British Isles.
Drumlins, as experimental evidence confirms, are streamlined; they present their steeper face to the moving medium, in order to offer the minimum resistance to the flow by hindering the formation of vortices in the rear (which act as a drag on the moving body). Similar adjustment is seen in snow storms, in certain dunes and sandbanks in rivers, in the shape of torpedoes or fishes...The shape of drumlins indicates that fluid flow and sediment transport has been involved in their formation. The process of streamlining in the formation of sandbars and snowdrifts involves both deposition and derosion. The erosion occurs at the stoss end while deposition occurs at the lee end of the bed form.
V.R. Baker showed that hundreds of streamlined loess hills in eastern Washington were formed subfluvially by catastrophic floods. These resemble drumlins in shape, average 40 meters in height and were formed by currents with a velocity of 12-15 meters per second in a depth of 60 meters of water. 
These streamlined hills occur in a region where giant current ripples, with heights of 50 feet and spacing of 500 feet, and other evidence of fluvial action show rapid currents that are attributed to floods resulting from the failure of an ice dam which ponded about 500 cubic miles of water in glacial Lake Missoula. Baker wrote:
Because the Missoula floods involved the largest discharges of fresh water that have been documented in the geologic record, the study of these events will establish some upper limits to our knowledge of the short term erosive and transport capabil ities of running water. Large scale landforms in eastern and central Washington and other regions have been identified with the effects of diluvial currents by J.L. Cunningham , who noted these so-called glacial deposits were similar to the effects of currents, and questioned their supposed glacial origin.
Streamlining of hills into the drumlin form is demonstrated from observation of the effects of the catastrophic floods on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington. The drumlins in other areas may have an origin similar to that of the drumlin-like loess hills reported by Baker. They would thus have been formed from unconsolidated material.
My theory is that bedrock drumlins were formed when the rock was unconsolidated. This would be reasonable if these sediments were deposited during the flood, and eroded when the continents were elevated at the end of the flood.
Evidence for the unconsolidated condition of the sedimentary formations in the Great Lakes area, at the time of erosion of the basins of the Great Lakes, was presented elsewhere in another article. 
R.L. Folk showed that stream flow can cause either transverse or longitudinal vortices, that minimize friction at the bed surface. Where longitudinal vortices occur, considerable sediment transport is possible. In this type of flow, the shape of the stream bed is congruent with the water surface. 
The troughs between drumlins may have been the sites of longitudinal vortices in the currents. Folk described the vortices as not remaining fixed in position, but "they wander back and forth like a swarm of slithering snakes."  The mobility of vortices would have the effect of rounding the crests of the drumlins. As the depth of water decreased, the vortices would tend to be concentrated in the troughs, where erosion would be intensified. Material from the troughs would be deposited on drumlins located downstream. The role of longitudinal vortices was crucial in the formation of drumlins, in this fluvial interpretation.
It seems obvious that where flood waters flowed rapidlv over flat plains of unconsolidated sediments, a streamlined bed would develop. Rapid currents have momentum, and patterns of drumlins are due to the momentum of the currents. The form of drumlins is one which minimizes turbulence.
It also seems evident that momentum and minimizing turbulence would not be significant factors in anything as slow moving as an ice sheet, as noted by physicist A. T. Waterman in a comment on von Engeln's hypothesis of a wave motion in the glaciers: "I cannot conceive of anything as slow as a glacier producing effects... which depend primarily upon momentum." 
In their efforts to explain drumlins in terms of the glacial theory, investigators have confused effects which are actually indicative of rapid fluid flow with effects that moving ice may produce due to its rigidity. The drumlins are the product of rapid flow - of water, not of ice.
The lithification of the streamlined sediments formed the bedrock drumlins. Most of these were subjected to disintegration, resulting in drift drumlins. Intermediate types, containing part drift and part bedrock, occur where the disintegration surface penetrated only part of the drumlin. Erosion followed disintegration in some areas, resulting in the redeposition of drift along the flanks of the drumlins.
The concept of in situ disintegration thus provides an explanation for the varying structure of drumlins in a single drumlin field. All the drumlins in the field were initially molded in the same way. Flint has written:
There seems to be a complete gradation, independent of outward form and within a single field, from rock to drift. This suggests that any one group was molded contemporaneously under a single set of controls. Studies of the bedrock profile in drumlin fields show a marked contrast exists between the streamlined surface topography and the irregular shape of the bedrock. Geologic sections showing the erratic shape of the bedrock below a drumlinized area were illustrated by S. Aronow, in a study of drumlins in North Dakota.  The depth to bedrock in the region varied from 0 to 200 feet.
The structure of drumlins in southeastern Wisconsin has been studied by W. C. Alden.  Records of wells drilled on or around drumlins showed a great variation in the structure of the drumlins. Some consisted mostly of drift, others were mostly bedrock, covered with a thin veneer of drift. The depth of the drift in the area was variable, in places reaching as much as 300 feet.
From the point of view of the glacial theory, the surface of the bedrock below the drift ought to have been streamlined and worn smooth by the movements of the ice sheet, rather than the surface of the drift. But in drumlin regions the opposite conditions exist.
The erratic shape of the bedrock below drumlins is explained by the varying degree of penetration of the surface of disintegration as the drift was formed. The contrast between the bedrock surface and the drift surface exists because each surface was formed by different processes; one by a rock disintegration process, the other by the streamlining action of currents.
Drumlins may show some signs of faulting and movement of the drift within, which can be explained by the effects of expansion of the drift during the disintegration. Eskers may occur in drumlin fields, and these can be explained as the effects of expansion. 
In some drumlins that have been exposed in cross section by erosion or in road cuts, a concentric layering is present. Fairchild found this concentric structure in drumlins along the south shore of Lake Ontario, that had heen severed by wave action. He interpreted this as evidence for a "plastering on" of material from the ice sheet. 
This concentric structure within some drumlins can be explained in terms of the disintegration process. The surface of disintegration may have penetrated down into the drumlin in planes conforming with the streamlined shape of the drumlin surface.
The idea of rock disintegration in situ forming the drift solves the enigma of the varying composition of the drumlins. Erosion by ice sheets would not form hills of bedrock with the same form and dimensions as hills of drift being deposited at the same time.
Stratified drumlins are explained by erosion in the glacial theory, and require a resurgence of the ice sheet over the drift deposited by the melting ice. The mixed-up sequence of events, which requires the existence of moving ice after it had melted, is an obvious flaw in the glacial explanation. The complicated events required to explain drumlins in terms of glacial action suggest their formation by these causes would be highly improbable, and that drumlins would be rarely found. But multiple thousands of drumlins have been mapped in Europe and North America. H.L. Fairchild wrote:
It is apparent that the drumlin-building process involved many factors, and most of them indeterminate. The problem is exceedingly complicated, including not only the difficult subject of the behavior of plastic solids but the action of the plastic ice under a complexity of geologic conditions. The vast numbers of drumlins in drumlin fields, and their similar features in different continents, argue against a complex mechanism of formation. The explanation of drumlin formation is relatively uncomplicated when they are considered in the context of the conditions existing at the last stage of the flood.
Drumlins show a trend of the current flow from the north, that can be explained by rapid elevation of tlne polar regions at the end of the flood. Flow of the waters across the continents, and locally down valleys towards the oceans, caused streamlining of the landscape.
One of the largest and most remarkable drumlin fields in the world occurs in northwestern New York, where the drumlins number about 10,000. About 7,000 drumlins occur in southern Ontario.
East-central Wisconsin has about 5,000 drumlins; in south-central New England there are about 3,000, many of which consist of rock. In Nova Scotia, there are 2,300 drumlins.
Flutings across the plains of western Canada and northern United States may outnumber these regular drumlins. Flint stated:
Large groups of remarkable long narrow forms occur in various parts of the Great Plains in Canada and northern United States. Some are chiefly bedrock; others are chiefly drift. Possibly such forms outnumber "conventional" drumlins. One of the most curious facts about patterns of drumlins is the uphill orientation in many areas, that shows flow of currents over hills, escarpments, and from out of the sea.
In north central New York the direction of flow was from out of the region of Lake Ontario, uphill towards the Allegheny highlands to the south.
A group of drumlins east of Owen Sound, Ontario, indicate a flow direction from out of Georgian Bay, uphill towards the Niagara Escarpment. A fan shaped pattern of drumlins south of Green Bay, Wisconsin, shows a similar uphill flow.
In Ireland, patterns of flow attest to diluvial action, rather than glacial movement. Flow direction was from out of the sea at Belfast Lough, over rising ground to the south.
Complex, arcing patterns of flow characterize the vast drumlin fields in Ireland. The patterns show a concentration of currents in low regions. Charlesworth wrote:
The drumlins of North-East Ireland belong to what appears to be the most remarkable drumlin assemblage in the world, far exceeding in extent of ground and numbers those of any other British area or even those of Western Central New York... It comprises tens of thousands of drumlins, and covers an area which can scarcely be less than 4,000 square miles. The direction of flow of the currents which shaped the drumlin field in Northern Germany was from out of the Baltic, fanning out across the lowlands.
These patterns of flow all show spilling of the waters to the south as the crust of the earth was rapidly elevated towards the north. The warping of ancient shorelines in all these regions corresponds with the inferred crustal depression towards the north, and subsequent uplift.
The variations in the form of drumlins in north central New York were studied by J.W. Miller Jr. He found that the drumlins on the low plains near Lake Ontario were large, flat topped, and poorly streamlined. 
Further south they became better streamlined, and tendled to be grouped in clusters. Still further south, on the rising slopes of the Allegheny Upland, the drumlins were smaller, more intricately streamlined, with steep sides and narrow crests. In the region of the Cayuga trough the drumlins became elongated flutings.
These variations in drumlin form show the agent of streamlining was faster at the higher altitudes to the south. Such an increase in the rate of flow would not be possible if the drumlins were shaped by an ice sheet being pushed uphill by a thicker ice mass to the north, which could not move faster than the ice mass causing the push. But the increase in speed is what would be expected if the drumlins were shaped by diluvial currents.
The continuity of stream flow requires the velocity of the currents increases where the bed is rising. The form of the New York drumlins shows this increased rate of flow where the depth of water was less.
The principle of continuity is illustrated in the flow of a stream. Where the bed is deep, the flow is slow. Near the shores of Lake Ontario the drumlins are large due to slow and deep current flow. Where the bed of the stream is shallow, there is rapid flow, so the flow of the currents would be faster at the higher elevations of the Allegheny Uplands, creating the intricately streamlined drumlins.
In some regions the drumlins have been modified by currents subsequent to their original formation. Examples of multiple drumlins, consisting of several small drumlins clustered on the same base, were reported by Alden  in Wisconsin, and by Fairchild in New York.  The form of the initial drumlin can be detected in these clusters.
These have been referred to by F.T. Thwaites as "over-ridden drumlins" and were described by him as follows:
In some regions the direction of ice movement changed markedly after the formation of drumlins... Many such drumlins have been over-ridden without any marked change in shape; some have had their new tails aligned to the new direction ... in some instances a long drumlin has been changed into several whose long axes cross the old axis at a high angle. Modification of drumlins in this manner has also heen reported from central Scotland. Large drumlins have been reshaped into clusters of smaller ones at an oblique angle to the original drumlin. As many as nine drumlins have been detected on a single base. 
In the diluvial environment, changes in the depth of the water as the continents emerged would cause the vortices to become smaller, resulting in the reshaping of large drumlins into smaller ones. The changes in the direction of flow of the currents could have resulted from shifting of centers of uplift, spilling the waters in a different direction.
Changes in the direction of flow of the currents could also have been caused by the elevation of highlands above water level, forcing the currents into new channels. This may have occurred in central New York as the Allegheny highlands were elevated above the water level.
The emergence of the highlands would prevent further flow towards the south, causing the waters to flow around the highlands. Drumlins at the western end of Lake Ontario show a different direction of flow from those north and south of the lake, indicating a current flow towards the west. Those at the eastern end of the lake have heen modified by a flow towards the Hudson valley in the southeast. 
If the drumlins had been over-ridden by ice sheets after their original formation, it seems likely that they would have been removed entirely rather than modified by deflection of their tails.
In the central Great Lakes region, the sediments thicken in the Michigan Basin, and rock formations are tilted up at the perimeter of the basin. At the rim, where the sediments were not compacted, since the horizontal compression was less, there has been great erosion of the sediments by the currents. Erosion of these sediments has formed cuestas with steep escarpments, and deep lake basins (such as Georgian Bay) at the perimeter of the Michigan Basin.
The orientation of the drumlins in New York and southern Ontario shows the direction of current flow which caused the drumlins was mainly in the direction of dip of the sedimentary strata, indicating the uplift which tilted the strata also initiated the currents that shaped the drumlins.
Many of the drumlins in the vicinity of the Niagara Escarpment are oriented normal to the trend of the escarpment, as would be expected if the currents which formed the drumlins also eroded the escarpment.
Relationships between drumlin orientation and the dip of sedimentary strata would not be expected from the point of view of the glacial theory. Since it is believed that the escarpments were eroded long before the glacial period, there would be no correspondence between the supposed direction of ice motion and the structure of the sedimentary rocks beneath. Actually the escarpments would form a barrier to the ice movement. 
In the diluvial theory, the escarpments and drumlins were formed by the same events, so there is a natural relationship. Major patterns of drumlins were determined by differential uplifts of the earth's crust which are evident in the tilt of sediments originally deposited horizontally.
Warping of abandoned shorelines is another clear indication of crustal uplift. The regions of maximum uplift can be determined by following the ascending shorelines. In the Great Lakes region it seems to be a general rule that these areas were sources of the flow indicated by the patterns of drumlins.
The shorelines record the last and lowest stages of the flood, and were probably formed after the shaping of the drumlins in deeper waters. Many of the abandoned shorelines are found on the sides of drumlins.
Patterns of drumlins record directions of flow of the currents which caused the streamlining. These patterns conform with the locations of upwarped shorelines and with the direction of dip of the sedimentary formations in many areas, indicating that differential uplift of the earth's crust initiated the rapid currents which shaped the drumlins.