What is Petrified Wood?

What is Petrified Wood?

Have you ever heard the expression “petrifaction” since geology class in high school? Probably not for many reasons including barely escaping the course with an undistinguished grade and being penalized for sleeping in class.

The term refers to petrified wood of which there is an entire national park in Arizona where you can find the stuff. But what is it and from where does it originate? We are glad you asked.

Petrified wood is formed over long periods of time when fallen trees wash down a river and become buried under layers of mud, ash and other materials. The buried trees become sealed and lack oxygen which is necessary for decaying. So instead of decaying as it would on top of the ground the organic material breaks down and allows voids in the tree that begin filling up with minerals like silica.

Then over the next few million years the minerals crystallize thereby converting the wood into stone. The wood’s pores are filled with minerals such as copper, cobalt and chromium just to name a few. Once this happens petrified wood is considered to be a fossil where the exotic minerals allow for red and green hues to be cast from what was once a plant – several million years ago. And not only was this plant originally buried in silt or volcanic ash but it also had to work its way to the surface for humanity to enjoy.

Although petrified wood can be found in other parts of the world, the greatest collection of petrified wood is in the Petrified Forest National Park located in Arizona. The landscape and rugged terrain is visited by millions of visitors from all over the world. Most of whom passed their geology class with flying colors.

More info here: https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm

Share this post