This article is from
Creation 5(1):12–13, June 1982

Browse our latest digital issue Subscribe
Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones available by searching creation.com.

Fascinating Flinders fossil find
The fossil described here gives evidence that petrified wood may form in a short time and not the millions of years popularly believed.


Late in 1982, while fossicking in the Flinders Ranges of South Australiala, I came across an unusual group of rock specimens on a hillside at Echo Camp near Arkaroola in the northern end of the ranges. One of the specimens was a slab of petrified wood. The unusual thing about this specimen was that as the eye followed the petrified grain of the wood along the fossil, it merged into natural and fibrous soft wood of the same sort. I even broke off a woody piece and used it for a toothpick.

The petrified end of the sample was continuous with a shiny white chalcedony (a type of quartz) and where the rock merged into the wood, the fibres in the wood were very stiff compared with the pliable splinters at the woody end. Wood turns into stone as the original wood fibres are dissolved and bit by bit replaced by minerals, until eventually the wood is preserved as a rock.

However, when most of us think of petrified wood, we automatically conceive of a long period of time. It is very common to read comments such as ‘…over millions of years the minerals gradually replaced the wood until…’. Such statements sound so valid that they pass without question. After all, to replace wood atom by atom until the wood structure is preserved in all its detail as rock would seem to require a very long time.

This is where the find of a fossil (shown in the photos in the original magazine article) which is part stone and part original wood is so significant.

It is illogical to suggest that wood will remain as wood neither petrifying nor decomposing—for millions of years. Therefore, the only alternative is that the real wood must be relatively young and consequently so must the petrified wood. But when did it form, and how? I would suggest that it has formed since the time of Noah’s Flood, since the strata in this area contain many catastrophically deposited fossil beds which I believe to be Flood deposits. The nearby Mt. Gee, which is a mountain of pure quartz with splendid cavities of rock crystals (closed to fossickers) along with the tremendous quantities of silica minerals at the surface of this part of the Flinders Ranges, provides a clue to how the wood was formed. The area is literally oozing with silica. The wood has been petrified through the action of hot (silica rich) springs. In this case not all the wood has been thoroughly saturated with silica and hence some of it is still natural wood.

The find described here certainly does give evidence that under certain conditions, wood may turn to stone in a rather short time and not the millions of years as popularly supposed.