Petrified Candles

9 May 2021

Sent in by Robert. At ,,, petrification is a process by which organic material is gradually turned into stone. It is mostly associated with wood. Tree branches and trunks for example found in ancient sedimentary layers - be it sand based, silt, gravel mixes etc. It is mostly associated with ancient geological layers - such as the Jurassic. However, it seems petrification can also occur fairly quickly - and how do we know how long it took ancient wood, for example, to be petrified. Just because it is found in an old layer doesn't necessarily imply it was petrified over a long period of time. In this article, eager to stress the short time involved in the process, we are told that in the Minnesota Museum of Mining there are candles on display that are petrified. They were found in an old mine. When it was in the process of being revamped - actually turned into an open cast mine.  The old shafts came to light during the revamp  and the candles were extricated as a curiosity. The museum presents it as a curiosity - and most geologists, I suppose, would be quite happy to see it in that light. A novelty. The old mine closed after WWII but the candles must go back to the 19th century. How did they become petrified in such a short space of time. The right conditions. They required entombment - and mineralised water. Later, we had mention of a hat that became fossilised, left behind in a cave, and again from the 19th century. In this instance, it was the steady drip of moisture from the cave roof that overtook the hat. A process similar to that of stalagmite formation.

This is an interesting observation as some petrified wood, for example, can be as hard as stone, but also have bits that definitely feel just like wood. They can't give you a splinter because the texture of the wood has been lost and these pieces tend to disintegrate once you start poking at them. The Creationist author is eager to make the case that petrification, and therefore fossilisation, can take place very quickly in comparison with the eons of geological time. One might also add that uniformitarians 'stretch' time in order to comply with their preferred model of the past, but note that Creationists 'shrink' time in order to comply with Biblical numbers. Two extremes one might say. A literal interpretation of Biblical numbers is out of fashion but some people still adher to it rather strictly, ignoring the possibility that numbers have symbolical meanings lost to us in the modern world. Prior to, shall we say, Eli and Samuel, Biblical chronology is unreliable, based on numbers with a focus on 4 and its multiples. The numbers 3 and 7 also play a role, and the number 6 [as in 666]. Why this should be so is a bit of a mystery but it seems to indicate simply accepting numbers at face value is skin deep. Not only that but some of the characters in early Bible stories may originally have been gods, or mythological figures, as outlined by Ev Cochrane in SIS C & C Review [2003]. Henry Zemel also wrote a piece on the historical nature of the Biblical narrative, in particular the Judges era, and also on Assyrian chronology [in SIS C & C Review 2017:2]. His view is they did not collate historical events in the same way as we do, one after the other, but what were events unspaced, as far as time was concerned, were later collated in some kind of order. For example, Judges begins with a catastrophe, the events surrounding Exodus, and ends with a catastrophe, involving Samson, a Biblical variant of a Herakles type mythological hero. Each period within Judges is defined by numbers, and constricted by 12 = 3 times 4 [a triple emphasis on the number 4, somewhat akin to the number 666 in the Book of Revelation]. It arrives at the magical number 480 = 12 x 40 [12 x 4 in one of its variants]. And so on. Judges may in fact span a period of time much greater than 480 years. Going back earlier, Jacob and Esau have analogies with the mythological pair of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a primary myth of the ancient Near East. Then we have Jacob's ladder, an astronomical phenomenon that has been associated with plasma - and so on. The point I am making is that neither side is necessary right, uniformitarian or creationist. The answer may be far more interesting.