This article is from
Creation 27(4):56, September 2005

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A Monstrous mound of … minerals!

By Tas Walker

Tourists visiting the town of Thermopolis (‘city of heat’), Wyoming (USA), are amazed by a monstrous rock mound in Hot Springs State Park. The mound dwarfs sightseers and many people would claim it looks immensely old. Astonishingly though, it is only young.

Photo by Charley Foster mineral mound

The mound began in 1903 when someone drove an iron pipe into the ground, allowing mineral-rich underground water to escape. Flowing out of the top of the pipe, the water released calcium carbonate mineral from solution and deposited it as travertine on every solid surface.

Within a few years, the travertine deposit had a huge base and tapered to a peak at the top of the pipe. The rock hung like pastel-coloured curtains and the locals called it Tepee Fountain.

Today the mound is a little fatter and rounder than a tepee, and the water flow has long ceased—it’s an extinct fountain.

Hot Spring
‘Tepee Fountain’ now looks more like an elephant than a tepee. And the fountain that formed it has long stopped flowing. Remarkably, this rock formation mostly formed in a few decades, 100 years ago. The above tourist brochure promoting Hot Springs and Thermopolis, was published in the early 1900s. The deposit had grown to a huge size in only a few years.

Why does this rock deposit astound tourists so? People are surprised because the huge mound challenges their cultural conditioning. It contradicts what we have been led to expect about the age of rocks.

People instinctively think of geological events such as petrifaction, fossilization and flowstone formation in terms of millions of years. When guides show us the stalactites and stalagmites in tourist caves, they tell us they took hundreds of thousands of years or more to form—drop by drop.

But the rock mound at Thermopolis proves it does not take vast amounts of time to form such objects. It just takes the right chemical environment.

This gives us in miniature an example of the sorts of things that probably happened during the global Flood of Noah’s day. With lots of mineral-rich water flowing out of the ground, it is not surprising that sedimentary rocks all over the earth—often thousands of metres thick—have turned into rock since the Flood, 4,500 years ago. Tepee Fountain illustrates that millions of years are not needed to produce solid rock.

mineral mount

Teepee Fountain still flowing

Feedback from one of our readers
Creation 28(3):4

I enjoyed reading your article in Creation magazine on the Teepee Fountain at Thermopolis Wyoming. ...
However, you said in the article that the fountain’s water had long since stopped flowing. As can be seen in the photo, a substantial amount of water is still flowing out of the top as of June 2001 (there are drains about the bottom of the structure to collect the water).
California, USA

Thank you too for the picture and correction, Keith.

Posted on homepage: 27 November 2006