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Famous Petrified Forests

Our petrified forests are generally of three types. The first type has been showered and completely covered by volcanic ash leaving the trees standing in an upright position. The Petrified Forest of Yellowstone National Park is an example of this type. The trees are standing in their original state where they grew many millions of years ago. The forest of Yellowstone covers more than 40 square miles which is the largest area known. Another unusual feature of the Yellowstone Petrified forests is that many thousands of fossilized leaves, needles, cones, and seeds of over one hundred different kinds of trees and shrubs have been found there. It is the only place in the world where 27 successive layers of petrified forms can be seen.

Petrified WoodThe story behind the Yellowstone Petrified Forest is that an old volcano began to erupt and continued for some twenty years. Mineral bearing waters had begun to petrify the once living forest. In the span of a couple of hundred years, a new forest began to appear and grew for the next five hundred years. Then, the old volcano erupted again. This process reoccurred twenty-seven times as twenty-seven distinct layers of buried forest have been exposed in the Fossil Forest on the south side of Larmar River Valley. An example of a well-preserved stump can be seen a few feet from the highway along "The petrified Road". Along the northern slopes of Specimen Ridge there are many layers of petrified tree trunks. About two-thirds of the way up on the eastern edge is a group of upright standing trunks of unusual beauty and size just as they grew many millions of years ago. The largest of these petrified stumps is a redwood over five feet in diameter and believed to be approximately one thousand years old when burned by volcanic debris.

Petrified WoodA second type of petrified forest is believed to be the result of logs jamming at the mouth of a river, sinking into the mud and becoming petrified. The petrified Forest of Arizona is an example of this type. Driftwood may be deposited on the shore by the winds. Generally fossil wood, which at one time was driftwood, does not have bark. This fact may account for the lack of bark on the wood in Arizona. The Arizona forests are between one hundred and two hundred million years old. One stone log, twenty feet wide and forty feet thick flung across a ravine forms a natural bridge - the famed Agate Bridge. The Arizona Petrified forests are composĀ­ed of different forests varying in coloring. The Rainbow forest is a multiplicity of colors; the Blue forest is mostly carbonized sections; and the Black forest is brilliantly black. Many logs of white, some almost transparent, make up the Second Forests, while the Third Forest displays large specimens as long as one hundred sixty feet.

The fossil wood is of three general types: 1.Jasperized wood predominately bright red, some translucent and variegated with a riot of colors 2. Small amounts of bright red wood are found often with areas of nearly colorless quartz 3. Sections of dark or nearly black wood.

The opalized wood forests of central Washington run a close second to the famed forests of Arizona. An outstanding feature in Washington is the only fossilized ginkgo trees known in the world are found there. The well known Ginkgo Petrified Forest is of the driftwood type. Of the ten thousand fossilized trees in this forest, only six have been identified as Ginkgo trees The Ginkgo is one of our oldest and most primitive types of trees, a direct ancestor of our modern tree, and is remarkable in that it has survived through millions of years while other species have died out.

Nevada boasts of the largest petrified tree known in the world. It is fourteen feet in diameter and nearly three hundred feet long. Another distinction in Nevada is the woods of Virgin Valley are fully opalized with the "fire" of the fire opal.

A third type is that of scattered woods that may be covered in some manner, to become solidified later. For instance, rising waters in a lake may completely cover a forest and protect it from decay. Later on petrifaction may preserve the trees permanently. Some of the woods in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Central Washington have this origin.

From Southwest gem 9/03 via The Glacial Drifter 3/03 via The Clackamette Gem, Golden Spike News 7/01 and Strata Gem 9/01