Thursday, May 31, 2012

Arizona Road Trip - Part 3 - Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest National Park was not at all like I had imagined - there wasn't a tree in sight! Just miles and miles of desert.  Studded throughout the park though were the remains of an ancient forest - fallen and broken trees that had been transformed to quartz ridden petrified wood.

A large petrified log with a smaller broken off piece

Here is what the guidebook says about it.

"...The trees fell, and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains.  a mix of silt, mud and volcanic ash buried the logs. This sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs' decay.  Silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits.  Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.  Over the 225 million years since the trees lived, the continents moved to their present positions, and this region was uplifted.  As a result the climate changed and the tropical environment became today's grassland.  Over time, wind and water wore away the rock layers and exposed fossilized ancient plants and animals.  The hills will yield more fossils as weathering sculpts the Painted Desert's soft sedimentary rock."  National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior

It is against the law to collect even the smallest piece of petrified wood from the park to maintain the integrity of the park.  However, there is some to be found outside the park boundries and enterprising residents collect and sell pieces outside of the park itself.

A large log on a cliff at center left, with fallen logs below

A piece of petrified wood with the colored quartz visible

The logfall in the center looks like people hiding in the rocks

A cluster of petrified logs

Another type of old fossils with petrified wood on the ground in the background

A field of mineral-rich petrified logs

The petrified wood is just one aspect of the Petrified Forest National Park.  Next time I'll post pictures of the Painted Desert portion - a beautiful park for exploring and learning about the prehistoric past.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I always like to think I learn something new every day and your info on the petrified forest was my something new for today. I didn't know that there wasn't a forest there at all but petrified logs instead. I am enjoying your trip!

Delena said...

Arizona is beautiful!!


I have some PETRIFIED WOOD from my grandpa. It's from someplace in California. Always has fascinated me. ARIZONA is full of interesting places to visit and see. Such a shame my daughter who is out there is not able to explore all these hidden treasures. ENJOY your adventures. PS) I LOVE your hat. I wear them too.

Mickey said...

Very interesting Pat! Didn't know anything about this area and now I know a little! I like your hat too Not used to you wearing one. Such interesting photos!

Pat MacKenzie said...

Tery and Mickey - I had to wear the hat - it was so hot and bright out. I ended up with a bad case of hat head, but who cares! Lloyd's hat is shading his burned forehead and nose that he got when he fell asleep by the pool a few days ago. Going through tons of Noxzema and peeling like crazy.

Magpie said...

I love this area, but it looks just the same as it did four years ago when I visited. I guess when it takes millions of years to change things, I shouldn't expect much to be different. :)

Rohrerbot said...

Do you know that I live here and have never been? Looks like a great place. Thanks for sharing.

Granny Annie said...

Thanks for the information. I remember going to the Petrified Forrest when I was a child but had no idea what I was seeing or how it came about. Now I have a completed childhood memory.

Yes, if we went there now we would be mistaken for some of the fossils:)

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