COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett © 2003
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This study estimates the cargo of noah's Ark. Calculations rely substantially on the results of Woodmorappe's book published in 1996. Some adjustments were made, and a more detailed payload tabulated. The required volume of each class of payload was then derived from their typical density, thereby obtaining an estimate of the remaining volume for animal housing.
1. Payload according to Hong et al 1994
2. Cargo Inventory according to Woodmorappe 1996
The principal study regarding the performance of Noah's Ark "Safety Investigation of Noah’s Ark in a Seaway" was first published in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):26–35, 1994; by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je. Ref(1).This paper revealed the dimensions of the ark were astonishingly well chosen. The conclusions of the paper are summarized Safety Investigation for Dummies.
An 18 inch cubit was used, and a 15 cubit draft (as proposed by Collins, Morris), giving a displacement of 21 016 tonnes. Structural studies required 4000 tonnes of wood for the hull, leaving 17 016 tonnes for cargo.
Note that the average density of the ark is taken at 500 kg/m^{3}, which is only slightly lighter than a solid timber block. Since most of the cargo is lighter than this (except for water), it is very unlikely this draft could be achieved without ballast.
In 1996, investigation of Noah's Ark was enhanced with the comprehensive "NOAH'S ARK: A Feasibility Study"; John Woodmorappe, ICR 1996. This provided an opportunity to assess the loading more closely, with approximations given for major components of the cargo inventory.
Based on generous food and water requirements for the animals, Woodmorappe (2) derived 11,000 tonnes of cargo. (Table 8 p48).
Cargo 
Tonnage 
Comments 
Hull 
4 000 
Hong et al (1) 1994 (this should not be included since net tonnage is being calculated) 
Water 
4 070 
4.07 Megaliters (p20, p48) 
Dry food 
2 500 
From p19 at 20% moisture content (conservative). Also (Table 8 p48) 
Animals 
411 
At end of voyage after animals had grown. (Table 8 p48) 
TOTAL 
10 981 
11 000 tonnes (Table 8, p48.) 
Spare 
6 000 
Should be 21 000 11 000 = 10 000 tonnes. ( hull mass was included twice.) 
Table 2a: Inventory of Contents by Mass (Woodmorappe 1996. Table 8, p48) 
It appears the hull mass has been included twice  which means Woodmorappe (2) actually had a spare 10 000 tonnes. However, the mass of animal enclosures, access ways and services have not been included.
The calculation of animal mass (411 tonnes) is not detailed. The data can be derived from Table 1 (p10) of Woodmorappe's book (2), using the various hints about arithmetric and geometric means for different ranges (p13), and the substitution of juveniles in the upper two weight groups (p16). In Table 2b below, the average mass for each group is multiplied by the number of members of that weight range (Qty).
Qty 
Average log gm 
Average mass gm 
Assumed mass kg 
tot kg 
Comments 
1738 
0.74 
5.5 
5.5e3 
9.56 
Arith mean (p13) 
4686 
1.74 
5.5e1 
5.5e2 
258 
Arith mean (p13) 
3238 
2.74 
5.5e2 
5.51 
1 781 
Arith mean (p13) 
2352 
3.74 
5.5e3 
5.5 
12 936 
Arith mean (p13) 
1928 
4.5 
3.16e4 
31.6 
60 969 
Geom mean (p13) 
1188 
5.5 
3.16e5 
316 
375 679 
Geom mean (p13) 
516 
6.5 
3.16e6 
50 
25 800 
Geom mean replaced by 50kg juvenile (p16) 
106 
7.5 
3.16e7 
200 
21 200 
Geom mean replaced by 200kg juvenile (p16) 



TOTAL 
492 263  kg 




492 
tonnes. Compare Ref (2) Table 8 (111 start, 411 voyage end) 
Table 2b: Total animal mass (ReDerived from Woodmorappe. p10, Table 1) 
In Table 2b there has been no substitution of juveniles in the third heaviest group (which is generating 76% of the mass). Woodmorappe (2) calculates 111 tonnes of biomass at the start of the voyage, which could have been achieved using juveniles in the third group.
We will assume a biomass of 400 tonnes  since this amount must be accommodated towards the end of the voyage.
Table 2b gives an average animal mass of 492 000 / 16 000 = 31kg.
Woodmorappe (2) claims Whitcomb and Morris overstated the average animal size as "the size of a sheep". On p13 he states the median size was 100g. Both are correct. The AVERAGE = 31kg, while the MEDIAN = 0.1kg. For this particular distribution, the few very large animals lift the average well above the median.
Also worth noting is the significance of using juveniles for the two heaviest groups. Using the geometric (adult) mass, the 622 heavyweights would add almost 5000 tonnes, bringing the average up to 340kg (a factor of ten times). For the largest animals, the stocking of juveniles appears essential.
A recalculated cargo inventory would look like this;
Cargo 
Tonnage 
Comments 
water 
4 070 
from Woodmorappe Table 8, p48 
dry food 
2 500 
from Woodmorappe Table 8, p48 
animals 
492 
p10 table 1, converted to total (see Table 2c above). 
TOTAL 
7 062 
Compare with 11000 tonnes Table 8, p48, but without the hull mass. 
Spare 
10 000 
17 000 7 000 = 10 000 tonnes. 
Table 2c: Cargo Tonnages recalculated after Woodmorappe 1996 
Assuming a 4000 tonne hull, the calculation of total cargo could be either 17100 tonnes (Hong et al (1)) or around 7000 tonnes (after Woodmorappe (2)), short of the Hong et al (1) target by 10000 tonnes.
Ark researchers are unanimous in assuming the Biblical dimensions define the external size of the ark. Whether the dimensions could have been for the interior would be an interesting study. Assuming Genesis defines the exterior (Gross Volume), the available interior space is reduced by hull walls, structure etc.
The length of Noah's cubit is consistently defined in previous ark studies as 18 inches (45.72cm). Maintaining this tradition;
Gross Volume in cubits = 300 x 50 x 30 = 450 000 cubic cubits. (I couldn't resist that one)
Gross Volume in metres = 137.16 x 22.86 x 13.716 = 43 006m^{3} (Compare Woodmorappe 43 169 m^{3} p20)
Assuming a hull wall and deck timbers of 0.3m ("Safety Investigation of Noah’s Ark in a Seaway  Structural Safety") the interior space is reduced by 0.3m on every side and with 2 interior decks plus the roof.
With hull wall and decks subtracted, the interior space = ( 137  0.6 ) x ( 22.9  0.6 ) x ( 13.7  1.2 ) = 38 046m^{3 } (12% lost)
Structurally, Hong et al (1) suggests 0.5 x 0.5m timbers. These beams would consume more space, but still allow some storage. This is not calculable without access to the final structural design, but it available space is well below 38 000m^{3}.
Alternatively, using the information from Hong et al (1), a total wood mass of 4000 tonnes was required at 0.6 tonnes/m^{3}, yielding 6667m^{3} of timber volume.
So the available space (assuming you can use every nook and cranny) becomes;
Maximum interior volume = 43 006  6667 = 36 340m^{3 }(16% lost)
3.1 Loading Hong's Cargo (15 cubit draft)
Hong et al (1) calculated a displacement of 21016 tonnes assuming a draft of 15 cubits. Excluding the 4000 tonne hull, there are 17016 tonnes available for cargo. If the the cargo consumes 50% of the interior space, the average density must be around 1000 kg/m^{3}, the same density as fresh water.
This is very dense for dry food, equivalent to near perfect stacking of modern compressed hay briquets  specific gravity as high as 1.25 (Woodmorappe (2) p98 quoting Earle 1950). Even refined grains like modern white flour have a specific gravity of only 0.9, which is 10% lighter than water. (I just calculated this from a packet of flour).
It seems unlikely and unnecessary (according to Woodmorappe (2)) to load the ark with the full 17016 tonnes. Hence a draft of 15 cubits may be difficult to attain.
3.2 Densities of Potential Ark Materials
Average bulk densities of various materials that might have been carried in the ark (below).
Material 
Bulk kg/m3 
m3/tonne 
Water 
1 000 
1.00 
Alph alpha ground 
250 
4.00 
Barley grain 
600 
1.67 
Beans 
500700 
1.67 
Buckwheat 
660 
1.52 
Corn grain 
760 
1.52 
Fish, meal 
590 
1.69 
Hay  stacked 
90 
11.11 
Hay  Woodmorappe 
180 
5.56 
Hay  high density 
1350 
0.74 
Wheat flour 
593 
1.69 
Wheat grain 
780800 
1.28 
Locust dried 
700 
1.43 
Oats 
432 
2.31 
Nuts 
640 (272 unshelled) 
1.56 ( 3.68) 
Rice 
580 
1.72 
Sand 
1600 dry, 2000 wet 
0.63 (0.5) 
Sewerage 
492 
2.03 
Sawdust 
210 
4.76 
Table 3a: Typical bulk densities of possible ark cargo
Comparison of the stowage factors or Specific Gravity (m3/tonne) with Principles of Naval Architecture (Ref 3), Vol 1, Ch1, Section 8, Table16 shows that packaging reduces bulk density by approx figures below;
Packaging 
Proportion of Bulk density 
bags / sacks  9095% 
bottles / jars  5070% 
drums  7080% 
crates  5575% 
Table 3b: Typical bulk densities of possible ark cargo
The following table lists various timber densities that might have been employed in hull and interior construction.
Timber 
kg/m3 
Balsa 
170 
Bamboo 
300  400 
Cedar, red 
380 
Cypress 
510 
Douglas Fir 
530 
Ebony 
960  1120 
Elm 
600 
Eucalypt 
800  1010 
Maple 
755 
Oak 
590  930 
Pine 
530 
Redwood 
450 
Spruce 
450 
Teak 
630  720 
Willow 
420 
Table 3c: Typical Densities of potential hull and interior timbers
3.3 Expanding on Woodmorappe's Cargo
Woodmorappe's calculations are conservative, yet at 7000 tonnes the ark is underloaded. However, there are more components to consider.
Dry food. Woodmorappe (2) derived 2500 tonnes of grain and compressed hay. He assumes 80% grain based feeds, with the remaining 20% slightly compressed hay  at double the density of stacked hay. (SG=0.18). The density of grain is taken at 680 kg/m^{3} (Table 5, p19) which is quite dense. Grains vary from oats (430) to wheat (780), so a value of 680 allows for very air space in the storage. (i.e. More like silo bulk density then bagged storage). A more realistic assumption would be closer to SG=0.5 (500 kg/m^{3}).
Hull. We will increase the wood density from SG = 0.6 (600 kg/m^{3} ) to SG = 0.8 (800 kg/m^{3} ). The lighter timber approximates Douglas Fir, the heavier timber is more like a dense hardwood  Eucalypt, Oak. The identity of the Biblical "Gopher wood" remains a mystery, but it could possibly refer to a treatment process for strength or waterproofing  likely to increase the density. The 4000 tonne bare hull would now approach 5300 tonnes. Another approach is to construct the hull with a layered base in heavy timber (e.g. Spotted gum 1010), with the rest of the construction in a lighter and more easily worked timber. At this point we will assume an average value of 800 kg/m^{3}.
Animals. Providing a wide margin for animal mass, we will increase the initial 111 tonnes to 400 tonnes of flesh (closer to the final weight). However, as the animal mass increases over the course of the flood, the mass of food decreases. Animal growth is obviously far slower than food consumption. The final weight must be applied since this must be accommodated in the worst case. However, there is no reason storage space could not have been converted to animal housing during the course of the ark confinement.
Water. The 4000 tonnes of fresh water (a full year's supply) appears excessively generous. Noah would certainly have no trouble collecting rainwater. Perhaps the ark endured periods of volcanic dust, or dry weather. A generous supply would be six months  or 2000 tonnes of water.
Enclosures. Next we need to estimate the mass of animal enclosures. For the small animals, most enclosures would be far heavier than the animal itself  over ten times. This would be the case even with multiple animal housing. Large animals we would require a cage at least double the creature's weight, assuming animals were combined where possible, and that minimal barriers were provided within stalls, So we would expect a total enclosure mass of between 2 and 10 times the total biomass  some 800 to 4000 tonnes. We will choose the more conservative value of 4000 tonnes, which makes provision for associated structures and partitions.
Floortofloor access. We will restrict the floortofloor ramps to either end of the ark to maximize the structural integrity in the mid section (no large cutouts in deck). Ventilation would also be promoted  potentially running the length of the ark between the effective air shafts created by the open ramp areas. These ramps would be used for transport of major loads only. Elsewhere, human access would require no more than stepladders or narrow stairs, through rather small (and structurally insignificant) penetrations in the decks. A reasonable ramp incline would be around 7.5 degrees. To ascend the 4.6m floortofloor elevation would require a horizontal run length of 12.5m. Applying a ramp width of 1.5m, and assuming the ramp zone has no storage capacity, the total air volume is: 4 x 1.5 x 12.5 x (13.71.2) = 933m^{3}.
Passageways. Taking an alley width of 1.5m (Woodmorappe (2) p16), a height of 2.5m and assuming 3 passageways running longitudinally requires 1.5 x 2.5 x 3 x (1370.6(2*12.5)) = 1255m^{3}. In addition, these corridors would require adjoining walkways. With a ceiling height of around 4m, the upper 1.5m is used for storage. (eg water skins draining directly to animals). These additional access routes might increase the passageway volume by 50%, to 1880m^{3}.
Dimensions. Hong's derivation of gross ark volume uses rounded figures. An exact calculation gives 43 006, or a displacement of 21 500 tonnes. This is an approximate figure depending on the defined cubit.
Cargo 
Mass Tonnes 
S.G 
Volume m3 
Volume % 
Comments 
GROSS ARK 
21 500 
0.5 
43 006 
100 % 
Based on 0.4572m cubit and 15 cubit draft. 500 tonnes above Hong et al (1) 
Hull 
( 5 333 ) 
0.8 
( 6 667 ) 
16 % 
Wood density increased from 600 to 800 kg/m^{3}. Volume from Hong et al (1) 
Water 
( 2 000 ) 
1 
( 2 000 ) 
5 % 
Reduced from Woodmorappe's 4070 tonne full year supply 
Dry food (grain) 
( 2 400 ) 
0.5 
( 4 800 ) 
11 % 
80% grain based (Woodm p98), density 500kg/m^{3} (compare 680 p19) 
Dry food (hay) 
( 600 ) 
0.18 
( 3 333 ) 
8 % 
20% hay based  at x2 compression (Woodm p98) 
Enclosures 
( 4 000 ) 
0.8 
( 5 000 ) 
12 % 
Timber volume ONLY  not including animal space. 
Ramps 
( 200 ) 
0 
( 933 ) 
2 %  Four 12.5m long ramps between deck levels 
Passages 
( 200 ) 
0 
( 1 880 ) 
4 %  3 passageways running longwise on each level 
Animals 
( 400 ) 
0.022 
( 18 393 ) 
43 % 
Biomass Density = 400 / 18393 = 22 kg/m^{3} 
SPARE 
6 366 
NA 
0 
0 
Spare weight, but no spare room. 
Table 3c: Mass and Volume Tally of Ark Contents 
In the above table each cargo group is subtracted from the gross tonnage and volume of the ark. Animals are listed last to fit them into the remaining volume. The 18 400 cubic metres houses 400 tonnes of animals at an average density of 22kg/m^{3}. Woodmorappe (2) cites poultry at over 16kg/m^{3} and piggeries in excess of 37kg/m^{3} (p 83). However, to arrive at a bioheating figure of a mere 5.58kg/m^{3} Woodmorappe (2) was restricting heat producing biomass (241 tonnes p 39) and spread them over the entire gross volume (43,200m^{3}, p 83).
"Safety Investigation of Noah’s Ark in a Seaway" first published in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):26–35, 1994; by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je.
"NOAH'S ARK: A Feasibility Study"; John Woodmorappe, ICR 1996.
"Principles of naval Architecture" Vol 1, Chapter 1 Section 8; SNAME 1988