Frozen in stone … in just decades
Cape Leeuwin is a wild, beautiful and windy place, the most south-westerly point of mainland Australia. A famous lighthouse stands there, made of a limestone that glows a brilliant white on sunny days.
Attracted by the awesome coastal beauty and the impressive lighthouse, visitors are often just as amazed to also find there an old wooden waterwheel which has been completely encased in solid limestone.
In 1895, when the lighthouse was being built, the stonemasons lived in nearby cottages, and a large wooden waterwheel and aqueduct were constructed to supply them with fresh water from a natural spring. The flow from the spring turned the wheel, which in turn operated a pump which piped water to the cottages.1 There are caves in limestone rock in the area, and the water which flows over the wheel has a high mineral content. It didn’t take long for the minerals to precipitate out of the water and begin to form limestone. Eventually the wheel stopped turning, and became trapped in rock, in just a few short decades.
Today, the spring still flows, and the waterwheel stands as a testimony to the rapid formation of limestone. Natural formations whose ages are not known may lead some to believe that they have taken thousands or even millions of years to form. Given the right chemical environment, the thousands of years since Noah’s Flood are actually a vast amount of time adequate to explain the sorts of geological features we have grown up to believe speak of millions of years.2
The next time you hear or read about limestone taking eons of time to form you can remember the famous waterwheel at Cape Leeuwin, still standing there for all to see, which ‘turned to stone’ within living memory.
References and notes
- Cape Leeuwin Waterwheel, margaretrivervista.com/cape-leeuwin-waterwheel.html, accessed 18 November 2011. Return to text.
- Petrified waterwheel, Creation 16(2):25, 1994; creation.com/petrified-waterwheel. Return to text.