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Creation  Volume 20Issue 3 Cover

Creation 20(3):6
June 1998

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Footprints in the Ash


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Fascinating fossil fence-wire

Photo by Col Lewis

Photo 1 & 2

Photo 1: The roll of fencing wire in solid rock, shortly after it was found.
Photo 2 (inset): The very hard surface close up, showing encased seashells.
Click here for larger view.

The circular object in photo 1, about 70 cm (2.3 feet) in diameter, was found at Eighty Mile Beach in the north of Western Australia by Amy Lewis, the 11-year-old daughter of the local caravan park owners, Col and Jo Lewis. Exposed at low tide, the object was extremely hard1 and heavy—about 75 kg (165 pounds). On examination, it was obvious even before cutting it open that a roll of modern-day fencing wire had become ‘petrified’, completely encased in solid rock.

Photo 2 shows the outside surface close up, complete with ‘fossil’ seashells.

Photos 3 and 4 show this wire-containing rock in cross and longitudinal sections.

Photos by Steve Cardno

Photo 3 & 4

Photo 3: A longitudinal cut surface, clearly showing the lengths of wire.
Photo 4 (inset): The surface of where the specimen fractured, showing the circular cross-sections of the wire.
Click here for larger view.

The rock is a hard, dense, calcareous sandstone. The wire is ordinary ‘Number 8’ fencing wire of the type used at nearby Wallal Downs station between 1920 and 1970.2 Mr Lewis recalls seeing one old wing of fence running into the sea in this spot in the 1970s. The standard practice in the area was that at the perceived end of its life (about 10 years on the coast) fencing wire was rolled into coils like this and discarded, sometimes onto the beach or into the sea.

It is clear that sand, shells and shellgrit accumulated around the wire. Then iron oxide compounds from the rusting wire acted to chemically bind this sandy shellgrit into solid rock around the wire. All of this happened in a few decades, not millions of years.

Unfortunately, the average person is still conditioned into thinking ‘millions of years’ when considering how rocks and fossils form. But as we’ve said many times with many examples—given the right conditions, rocks and fossils will form in a very short time.

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References and notes

  1. The specimen was so hard it ‘rang’ like a bell when struck. Even before the inside was exposed, the visual suspicion that it contained fencing wire was strengthened by the fact that it would attract a magnet. After only a few weeks in the dry air of our air-conditioned Brisbane office, it cracked and sheared cross-sectionally. Return to text.
  2. This was during the station’s ‘sheep era,’ when both barbed and plain wire was used. The subsequent fencing for cattle used only barbed wire. Information: Mr Col Lewis, who has lived in the area for many years. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Andrew L., Australia, 15 December 2010

Greetings and thank you for this article. As a farmer myself (from Victoria) and one who has used Number 8 fencing wire, I can’t help but think this one looks like it was a new/unused roll that was found petrified. It appears to be about the size of a new 500m roll (that’s how it comes) and the cross-section shows the wires packed/wound tightly together as a new roll would be. I suppose there is no reason a new roll couldn’t be petrified just as easily as an old one if the conditions are right. Thanks and keep up the great work!

Clay H., United States, 16 December 2010

Friendly point of nitpicking, but the wire itself wasn’t fossilized, it was still the original material. The same is likely true of the shells (the original calcium structure wasn’t replaced with sandstone). Fossilization itself is the mineralization of the original structural material itself, not the simple encasing of it. Furthermore, secular science is perfectly accommodating of rapid cementing or other forms of petrification (it doesn’t state all forms of rock formation occur over geological timescales). Very simply, the grander implications suggested by the article aren’t supported by the specific, paradigm-neutral circumstances presented, which are consistent with either.

Charlie R., United States, 18 December 2010

This is not fossilization, It is accreation. Totally different process that does not take millions of years, it can happen in a handfull of years in a reactive environment like the salty ocean. Get your science correct before you publish nonsense.

Glen S., United States, 18 December 2010

This is not a fossil, and living organisms do not rust. It is, however, a great leap to buy some cheap creationist credit. Accretion, which is the process you’ve demonstrated here, is completely different from fossilization. Please get your science straight before you publicly embarrass yourself.

Robyn C., Canada, 18 December 2010

The problem with this article is that this is not a fossil, as evidenced by the fact it made a bell-like sound when struck. Also that the wire is metal, and not organic matter as a creature would be, and therefore did not undergo the same process. What happened here was mineral buildup and deposits from being submerged in water over time. You can see the same effect on old taps or in your tub where calcium and lime build up.

CMI responds

Hi Robyn, Google a geological definition for fossil and you will see that a fossil is a sign of past life in a rock. The fencing wire qualifies as that. Fossils can take many forms: a mold, a cast, the original material, a trace, etc. The point of the illustration is that the processes involved in fossilization do not take millions of years. We want to break the incorrect perception that most people have that fossils prove long ages. It is that perception that prevents people taking the Bible seriously and as a consequence they dismiss its message without thinking about it. We don’t want them to do that but to come to know their Creator, whose incarnation to earth we celebrate at Christmas time.

Michael C., United States, 20 December 2010

Interesting but for one fact; the process you described in the “article”, unsupported by any reference to lab testing or scientific input making it clearly an opinion piece, does not produce a the product which is commonly found in petrification.

Your reference to this artifact as a “fossil” is grossly incorrect. Your description of the electro chemical process does not produce “rock” nor “sandstone”.

Ken H., United States, 20 December 2010

Very interesting article on the fossilized roll of fencing wire!

I wonder if any conventional methods of dating fossils were used to see how many ‘millions of years old’ the wire is. If indeed any lab would run the tests, obtaining an outrageous age may shed a little light on how or why such methods are so patently erroneous.

We need to have a simple explanation that will convince the masses as to why those methods are so far off the mark, and if it can be done, create reliable and accurate alternative dating methods–not my area of expertise.

But of course, it’s God’s design for us to exercise faith, and that may never satisfy the materialists’ intellectual arrogance.

Sam W., Kenya, 20 December 2010

I agree with the article’s basic premise for argument, that fossilization as previously used (and misused) implies a very long passage of time. Not so from available evidence adduced in the article.

Can preservation of organisms take place suddenly? Sudden freezing is a prime example, a variation of which occurred during the Ice Age. One however doesn’t need millions or billions of years to achieve this.

I agree with this article and the inherent argumentative logic.

Vanessa M., South Africa, 20 December 2010

Oh People are so sadly blind and STUBBORN: This lot don’t even know what accreation means.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Accretion may refer to:

  • Accretion (finance), predictable changes in the price of certain securities

In science

  • Accretion (astrophysics)
  • Accretion (atmosphere), the process by which water vapor in clouds forms water droplets around nucleation sites
  • Accretion (geology), the increase in size of a tectonic plate by addition of material along a convergent boundary
  • Accretion (coastal management), the process where coastal sediments return to the visible portion of the beach following storm erosion

This is clearly fossilisation people.

There is no such thing as millions of years to a scientifically logical mind it makes nonsense thinking that.

Job 8:9: for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.

Clay H., United States, 22 December 2010

If you want to resort to giving all laymen vernacular equal footing when addressing an allegedly scientific issue, then by all means, use a dictionary definition of fossil. If that’s the case, then the popular usage of it to refer to an elderly person is also valid in the context of the article and my living grandmother also qualifies.

In geological and paleontological parlance, which are the fields directly relevant to the article, accreted artifacts or remains do not generally constitute fossils as they are understood by professionals of those fields. While the definition you choose to apply may be valid under certain circumstances, it is at best fallacious, and at worst deliberately misleading to portray these findings using the terminology differently than those you are refuting might. It’s dishonest to comment on one definition while using another, portraying the two as equivalent while refusing to acknowledge the actual differences between the two.

Ron J., Canada, 31 December 2010

Clay H … in the end it doesn’t matter what is ‘understood by professionals of those fields.’ No different than what Galileo thought of the prevailing ‘understanding of professionals in his field’ in his day. I am someone who really wants to know the truth and I am troubled with the narrow view of evolutionists who are so wrapped up in proving their underlying theory that they are not open to exploring all options (even those that can potentially bust their theory apart).

Bottom line, I want to know what the science is … not someone’s understanding or interpretation. Until there is empirical evidence, both evolutionists and creationists are taking a leap of faith.

Doug R., Canada, 6 February 2012

Oh boy, I must chime in on this, people.. people. People, please read A fossil is a fossil is a fossil. Right?, and understand before ranting.

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