© Dee Breger

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BLACK SEA PYRITE: As the last ice age melted away, the Mediterranean Sea rose until it forced seawater over the Bosporus in a waterfall calculated to have been 200 times the size of Niagara Falls. The Black Sea quickly formed as the rushing waters flooded ancient farmlands around a large freshwater lake, abruptly causing the population to flee. Mediterranean microplankton such as this coccosphere - a single-celled plantlike organism - eventually populated the new Black Sea and accumulated in the sediments below, where chemicals in the seawater reacted with some of the organisms inside their carbonate shells to create crystals of mineral pyrite. The sample of Black Sea sediment from which this image is derived is from a project by Lamont geophysicist Walter Pitman and marine geologist Bill Ryan who investigated this phenomenon. Pitman and Ryan suggest that this geologic event was the source of the legends of Gilgamesh and Noah's Flood. Their theory is presented in their book "Noah's Flood", published in 2000 by Simon & Schuster. Magnification ~ 16,000 X