This article is from
Creation 34(3):47, July 2012

Browse our latest digital issue Subscribe

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.

Photo: Rod WalshRod-Walsh-beside-the-water-wheel
Photo: Rod WalshBlow-hole

Related Articles

References and notes

  1. Cape Leeuwin Waterwheel, margaretrivervista.com/leeuwin-naturaliste-national-park/cape-leeuwin-waterwheel, accessed 23 April 2020. Return to text.
  2. Petrified waterwheel, Creation 16(2):25, 1994; creation.com/petrified-waterwheel. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Geology by Design
by Carl R Froede Jr
US $15.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Gary B.
This wheel has not turned to stone. It has just been covered in mineral deposits from the water, in the same way as water pipes and kettles in hard water areas get "furred" up. Completely different to fossilization.
Carl Wieland
In my initial response to your comment, I regret that I did somehow miss the 'turned to stone' in the last sentence. That may have been (my excuse) from travelling in a different time zone and also because the rest of the article had made it so clear that it was arguing for the rapid formation of limestone, and says that the wheel was 'frozen in' or 'encased in' stone. Not claiming that the wheel had been fossilized or petrified. The 'phrase 'turned to stone' (even though unfortunate in hindsight) was in obvious scare quotes, and given what had gone before it was overwhelmingly clear what the author meant. But I realize now that at least you did not pull the claim out of thin air , and retract any inference to that effect which could have been drawn. I would repeat and reinforce the rest of the response, though, which is that the article overall did not claim what you suggest. I would also repeat the point that the term 'fossilization' is often used inappropriately as if it inevitably means 'petrification' (becoming stone via a process of replacement). Things can be fossilized without being petrified, or while being only partly petrified. Fossilization merely refers to the fact of preservation; and it can take many forms other than 'minerals replacing the organic material'. Even an impression, like a footprint, is a fossil, as is a film of carbon. An intact bone or tooth encased in stone, even if it were wholly unmineralized (non-petrified), would still qualify as a fossil.
Suzette M.
The covered walkway to some of our classrooms at the college where I teach have concrete overhead, and leak constantly when it rains. The constant dripping of rainwater through the concrete makes stalactites overhead. Over the course of a year, they may reach 4 inches long or more, and invariably, someone knocks them down. No doubt if left alone, they would grow to quite some size, and very quickly!
Carl Wieland
Indeed. Iincidentally, if you type 'stalactites' into this site's search bar, you should see a bunch of articles on examples of rapid dripstone formation that may interest you. Kind regards,

Carl W.
Gail S.
I really started questioning evolution when I saw horseshoe crabs in Mexico that were fossilized, but they were not millions of years old. They have just found a full skull of Homo erectus in the Russian state of Georgia - and looking at other skulls the astounding fact is that they are all one species.
den B.
Would'nt it be fun to get a bit of it carbon-dated
Carl Wieland
Bear in mind of course that C14 dating theory depends on the specimen having once been living and exchanging carbon with the atmosphere/biosphere. Of course, there may have been some primordial C14 created, which would explain getting positive 'dates' from diamonds allegedly 2 billion or so years old.

Other forms of radio dating would likely be useless, as the rock would not be expected to contain significant quantities of radioactive minerals.
graham K.
One fossil out of order - just one ever. That's all it takes. Period. But it never happens. Excuse all you want around it, but come on.
Tas Walker
Hi Graham, You're wrong. Fossils are found in the 'wrong' place all the time but they are never reported as out of place. That is because the evolutionary 'story' morphs to accomodate them. The story is not falsifiable. See Are fossils ever found in the wrong place and the 'Related articles' at the bottom of that page.
Elisha M.
Thank you heaps for doing this article. Since I was a kid (for I have grown up in the area of Busselton/Margaret River/Augusta in Western Australia), I always remember looking at that waterwheel and thinking "wow, limestone and rocks form very fast!" It has always been a reassurance against evolutionary lies for me. Also, interesting to note (I think you mentioned it in another article), stalactites from concrete form VERY fast... how interesting....
God bless you guys :) keep up the good work, I still love reading it from over here in Japan.
Cameron G.
It shows that the conditions have to be just right for lime to become limestone and it doesn't take millions of years. Thanks for the article.
Thys K.
I think society has become so 'numb' or brainwashed to think that even 6000 years are a short time when it's actually quite a long time.

It's amazing how we are able to OBSERVE how rapidly things can change in nature. Things like tsunamis, hurricanes or volcanoes don't even need days but only a few hours to bring about rapid change.
Yet, some choose to remain stubborn and oblivious to the things they can actually see and correlate.
Bernard H.
I remember visiting Exmouth W.Aust. back in 1987 and going up to a lookout where I discovered the sand bags that were placed around the lookout had "metamorphosed" into sandstone. The hessian bags had long since rotted into oblivion but their shape was very evident, complete with the "fossilised" imprint of the bag's weave.

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.