The life and times of Wave Rock, Hyden, Western Australia
How Noah’s Flood formed this fascinating feature
A Wave Rock snapshot
Wave Rock is a tourist attraction some 300 km east of Perth, Western Australia. The ‘wave’ is about 15 metres high, 100 metres long, and sits on a northern face of a granite outcrop called Hyden Rock.
This is just one of dozens of exposed granite outcrops associated with an enormous volume of granite in the region. The granite extends more than 6 km below ground and for hundreds of kilometres across the countryside.
The granite formed very early in Noah’s Flood when ginormous movements in the earth’s crust melted rocks tens of kilometres deep inside the earth. The crustal movements forced the molten magma up through cracks in the crust and it pooled in a huge volume, still kilometres below the surface.
As the Flood continued, the raging waters deposited kilometres of sediment over the whole area. However, once the Flood reached its peak and began to recede into the oceans, the flowing water eroded that sediment away, along with some of the granite surface. Hyden Rock would have been exposed at this time, an erosional remnant, as the whole landscape was being eroded.
For months, the water continued to recede from the area, and in its final phase it flowed in wide watercourses across the landscape, eroding wide channels. One watercourse ran to the north of Hyden Rock. As the landscape continued to erode and the surface elevation lowered, the water eroded the lower part of the rock, creating the wave shape.
These watercourses have been filled with sand and gravel and are still visible today. Water rarely flows in them. One such watercourse, almost 1 km wide, sits in front of Wave Rock. These relict watercourses are mostly an unconnected series of salty playa lakes.
Compared with the catastrophic geological activity during Noah’s Flood, erosion in the 4,500-year post-Flood period has been miniscule. We would expect that the shape of Wave Rock has not changed much since the end of the Flood.
Wave Rock in detail
Hyden Rock and its granite wave
Wave Rock is a tourist attraction some 300 km east of Perth, Western Australia, near the small wheat-farming town of Hyden with a population of less than 400. Although it is in an isolated area, there is a continual drove of travellers through the town to view the rock.
As its name suggests, Wave Rock (figure 1) resembles an enormous ocean wave that has reared up and is about to break. The wave is about 15 m high, more than 100 m long, and occupies a portion of the northern face of a granite outcrop called Hyden Rock. As well as curling forward at the top, the rock slopes out from the bottom, giving a realistic impression of a wave. Rainwater runoff has allowed coloured lichens to grow and produce vertical streaks, adding to the feeling of a breaking wave.1
The geological map for Hyden2 (figure 2) shows that there are dozens of such granite outcrops in the area. These persist for more than 100 km across that sheet (SI-50-04), and the granite has been interpreted as extending more than 6 km below ground. In other words, these granite outcrops are like tiny tips on an enormous ‘iceberg’.
This granite is part of a huge area of Western Australia called the Yilgarn Craton (figure 3), an old part of the earth’s continental crust that has been relatively stable since the Precambrian. It formed early in Noah’s Flood. The Yilgarn Craton extends some 800 km east to west and 1,000 km north to south. It is composed mostly of crystalline rocks such as granite and gneiss, but with large belts of other metamorphosed rocks including rich gold-bearing greenstone belts.
Formed early in Noah’s Flood
Long-age geologists have assigned an ‘age’ of 2.7 billion years (late Archaean) to this granite, which is much younger than the ‘ages’ assigned to other parts of the Yilgarn Craton. A tool for transforming secular geological dates into biblical history is shown in figure 4 and indicates that the granite formed early in the global Flood (Genesis 6–8), which took place about 4,500 years ago and lasted just over one year. The Flood began with the breaking of the earth’s crust and continued with volcanic eruptions, crustal movements, erosion, and sedimentation.
Some biblical geologists would interpret these granite rocks as forming during Creation Week, and I have allowed for that position on figure 4 by making the arrow dotted in that area. Globally however, rocks assigned to this period include granites that form underground, and volcanic deposits sometimes kilometres thick that form above ground. This volcanic activity would have filled the atmosphere with ash, fumes, and dust, which to my mind is inconsistent with the “very good” creation described in Genesis 1:31. That is why I interpret the Wave Rock granite as forming in the early Flood.
Where did the granite come from?
One geological scenario for the formation of the Yilgarn Craton posits that it is made from many huge, broken ‘blocks’ of continental crust (tens to hundreds of kilometres long) that were sheared, pushed around and metamorphosed. These blocks, or terranes as they are called, were then intruded by huge volumes of granitic magma that welded the blocks into a stable craton.3 All these would have formed kilometres below ground, but they are now at the surface.
Such broken blocks are the sort of outcome expected from when “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11 NKJV), at the beginning of the Flood. Ongoing movements of the crust would have pushed these broken pieces of crust around and, in the process, released incredible energy. This in turn would have (partly) melted rock deep inside the earth and then squeezed the magma (molten rock) out of the unmelted rock that remained, welding the terranes together. Also, these movements would have transported the magma up through fissures, where it accumulated near the surface, in vast underground oceans. Some magma would likely have erupted lava, ash, and fumes above ground.
The latest thinking on the formation of granites is that they form quickly, which is quite different from some of the older thinking on the subject. In this view the magma was produced quickly, transported quickly, emplaced quickly, crystallized quickly, and cooled quickly. (See Granite formation catastrophic in its suddenness.)
Erosion, ongoing sedimentation, and more erosion
As the Flood proceeded, huge volumes of water would have flowed across the Yilgarn Craton. Initially this would have eroded the land surface of that time, and then it deposited sediments. These would have covered the Hyden area, indeed the whole of the craton, to a depth of many kilometres. However, these sediments (classified as Paleozoic and Mesozoic age—see figure 4), have subsequently been eroded away, a second erosive period. Thus, we have identified two periods of erosion that impacted Wave Rock, one early in the Flood, and one late.
The first was when the floodwaters brought the Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments into the area. That process would have initially eroded the surface before the sediments were deposited. The second was late in the Flood when the floodwaters were receding, after the Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments had been eroded away. The relative impact on Wave Rock of these two periods of erosion is an interesting question to investigate.
In the second ‘half’ of the Flood, erosion of the landscape would have begun after the floodwaters covered the whole Australian continent. Erosion would have continued as the waters receded into the oceans until all the water had drained. Enormous erosion like this is a feature on all the continents of the world.
Interestingly, there are places in Western Australia where these great thicknesses of sediments were protected from erosion and are still present. These include the Perth Basin, which is to the west of the Yilgarn Craton. The sediments can be seen in the geological west-east cross section across the basin near Perth (figure 5).4 They consist of horizontal sedimentary layers some 12 km thick, sitting on a down-dropped section of the Yilgarn basement. Note that the basement has been faulted and the faults pass through almost all the sedimentary layers above. The basin dropped some 15 km along a north-south fault at the right-hand side of the section called the Darling Fault. Consequently, the receding floodwaters flowed well above the top of the sediments such that they were not eroded.
Sedimentary cover of similar thickness would have extended across the Yilgarn Craton, but the sediment has been almost completely eroded away and no longer present. This erosion is described in the article Recessive Stage of Flood began in the mid-Cretaceous and eroded kilometres of sediment from continent. Also described in the article are other examples of sediment preservation on the Yilgarn Craton, including the Collie, Wilga and Boyup basins, which are west of Hyden, toward the edge of the craton, and 100 km south of Perth. Sediments kilometres thick in these basins are within down-dropped blocks of crust, called grabens, and were thus preserved from erosion by the receding floodwaters.
Two-phase erosion process
We can envisage that the waters of Noah’s Flood receded from the continents in two identifiable phases. The first was the period lasting several months when the waters covered the whole continent and no land had emerged above the surface. Although the water would have been perhaps a kilometre deep, it had a vast lateral extent, resembling an enormous sheet. Erosion by the tempestuous flow of this ‘sheet’ of water would have cut a relatively flat landscape, a feature that can be seen everywhere, and that has been given the name “peneplane”, which means “almost a plane”. The sediments preserved in the Perth Basin (figure 5) indicate that the erosion began after the Cretaceous (check figure 4).
Second, as the water level reduced and land appeared above the surface, it flowed in wide channels. These became progressively narrower as the flow volumes reduced. Erosion during this channelized flow period would have cut wide valleys which became progressively narrower. Now, the watercourses that presently drain the landscape are much smaller than the valleys in which they sit. The landforms produced by this two-phase drainage are a tell-tale characteristic of Noah’s Flood and found all over the world.
This two-stage erosional process has left many tell-tale features on the earth’s surface5 including tall erosional remnants called inselbergs rising from a flat plain that has been eroded away. Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, in central Australia is one example, but there are thousands globally. These point to this giant runoff event not long ago, namely the receding waters of Noah’s Flood. The granite outcrops in the Hyden area are typical of inselbergs but they are much smaller.
Evidence left by late-Flood erosion
Google Earth has an elevation tool that helps us see these features. Figure 6 shows the elevation on a 170 km west-east section that passes through Hyden Rock. The land elevation varies between some 260 to 360 metres. Note that the vertical exaggeration on the section is 200 times, which greatly exaggerates the shape of the peaks and valleys. On this section the upper heights of the landscape would represent a former “peneplane” at around 360 metres. It is rising slightly toward the east This surface would have been established in the first phase of the recessive stage of the Flood while the waters covered the whole area.
In the second phase, when the flow of receding water reduced, this peneplane was dissected by the strong currents of water, leaving only isolated parts of the land at the former level. The channelized water flows eroded the parts between these highs down to around 260 metres in this region.
An example of this channelized erosion can be seen in figure 7. This shows a Google Earth elevation profile on a 25 km north-south section across a drainage course to the west of Hyden. The visible width of the sandy water course in Google Earth is about 3 km but the river valley is some 17 km wide and 60 m deep. Again, note that the vertical exaggeration on this figure is about 60 times. This and other river courses can be identified on Google Earth. Now, because the region is arid and there is so little rainfall, these old river courses consist mostly of an unconnected series of salty playa lakes, indicating that the water flow was much greater in the past when these watercourses were carved. Greater water flows in the past are expected from the drainage sequence during Noah’s Flood.
Secular geologists have recognized this old drainage system and published maps of the ancient rivers (figure 8).6 The ancient river valley passing by Hyden is called the Camm River Paleovalley (old valley). The size and extent of these river courses demonstrates that there was much more water draining from the continent in the past. Mainstream geologists have tied the timing of this erosion to the Paleogene and Neogene, which corresponds to the waters of Noah’s Flood draining from the continents (see figure 4).
Wave Rock would have been exposed late in the Flood when water was covering wide areas. Hyden Rock is an erosional remnant, and the receding water would have flowed in a wide channel in front of the wave. As the landscape continued to erode and the surface elevation lowered, the water kept flowing energetically eroding more of the rock lower down, creating the long wave shape. Figure 2 shows the course of this late drainage immediately north of the ‘wave’.
The sediment that was eroded at this time has been removed almost entirely from the area by the receding floodwaters. A small amount of sediment has been left in the paleovalleys themselves. In the 4,500 years since the end of the Flood there may have been some localized erosion within the existing water courses, but the overall land surface would not have reduced significantly. We envisage that the shape of Wave Rock today is not much different from the shape it was at the end of the Flood.
Wave Rock occupies one side of a granite rock outcrop near Hyden, 300 km east of Perth. The granite was emplaced very early in the year-long Noah’s Flood, when the catastrophe melted rocks deep beneath the crust and forced the molten magma up towards the surface. As the Flood continued, the whole continent was covered with sediment kilometres thick, but this was eroded away after the floodwaters peaked and as they receded into the oceans. Towards the end of the Flood, the draining floodwater left wide channels in the surface. These ancient watercourses are much larger than the channels needed today to drain the arid region. One of these channels flows past Wave rock and likely eroded the wave shape. When it emerged at the end of the Flood, Wave Rock was probably much the same shape as it is today. It is unlikely to have experience significant erosion in the 4,500 years since.
Geological information readily available can be easily used to interpret geological features in terms of biblical history. In the process questions arise for different aspects of the interpretation, questions that point to areas where more investigation is needed. In this example, the relative impact of the two periods of erosion over the Wave Rock region (early Flood/late Flood) is an interesting question to quantify. A biblical geological interpretive model provides a powerful framework for understanding the processes that formed geological features, features such as Wave Rock, Western Australia.
References and notes
- Twidale, C.R. and Bourne, J.A., A Field Guide to Hyden Rock, Western Australia, Including Wave Rock, Wave Rock Management P/L, Hyden, Western Australia, 2001. Return to text.
- Hyden, Sheet SI 50-04, Australia 1:250000 Geological Series, Geological Survey of Western Australia, 1984. Return to text.
- Myers, J.S., The generation and assembly of an Archaean supercontinent: evidence from the Yilgarn craton, Western Australia, Geological Society, London, Special Publications 95, 143–154, 1995; https://doi.org/10.1144/GSL.SP.1995.095.01.09 Return to text.
- Perth, Sheet SH-50-14 and part Sheet SH-50-13, Australia 1:250,000 scale geological map series, Geological Survey of Western Australia, 1978. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J. and Reed, J.K., How Noah’s Flood Shaped our Earth, Creation Book Publisher, 2018. Return to text.
- Bell, J.G., Kilgour, P.L., English, P.M., Woodgate, M.F., Lewis, S.J. and Wischusen, J.D.H. (compilers), 2012. WASANT Palaeovalley Map – Distribution of Palaeovalleys in Arid and Semi-arid WA-SA-NT (First Edition), scale: 1:4 500 000, Geoscience Australia Thematic Map (Geocat № 73980) – hard-copy and digital data publication: http://www.ga.gov.au/cedda/maps/96 Return to text.