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Polished slice of a petrified tree from the Late Triassic Epoch (approximately 230 million years ago) found in Arizona. The remains of insects can be detected in an enlarged image.
Petrified log in Paleorrota geopark, Brazil
Petrified log at the Petrified Forest National Park
Polished petrified wood
The outline of cells visible in a segment of petrified wood
Polished slice of petrified wood
Petrified logs
Petrified Acacia wood
Puyango petrified forest
Petrified log and Welwitschia at Namibia Petrified forest (2014)
Chunk of petrified wood near El Kurru (Northern Sudan)

Petrified wood (from the Latin root petro meaning "rock" or "stone"; literally "wood turned into stone") is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified wood is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material.

The petrifaction process occurs underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment or volcanic ash and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen which inhibits aerobic decomposition. Mineral-laden water flowing through the covering material deposits minerals in the plant's cells; as the plant's lignin and cellulose decay, a stone mold forms in its place. The organic matter needs to become petrified before it decomposes completely.[1] Under ideal conditions it can also occur rapidly.[2] A forest where such material has petrified becomes known as a petrified forest.



Elements such as manganese, iron, and copper in the water/mud during the petrification process give petrified wood a variety of color ranges. Pure quartz crystals are colorless, but when contaminants are added to the process the crystals take on a yellow, red, or another tint.

Following is a list of contaminating elements and related color hues:[3][4]

Petrified wood can preserve the original structure of the stem in all its detail, down to the microscopic level. Structures such as tree rings and the various tissues are often observed features.

Petrified wood is a fossil in which the organic remains have been replaced by minerals in the slow process of being replaced with stone. This petrification process generally results in a quartz chalcedony mineralization. Special rare conditions must be met in order for the fallen stem to be transformed into fossil wood or petrified wood. In general, the fallen plants get buried in an environment free of oxygen (anaerobic environment), which preserves the original plant structure and general appearance. The other conditions include a regular access to mineral rich water in contact with the tissues, replacing the organic plant structure with inorganic minerals. The end result is petrified wood, a plant, with its original basic structure in place, replaced by stone.


Areas with a large number of petrified trees include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Petrified Forest National Park (U.S. National Park Service)".
  2. ^ Akahane, Hisatada; Furuno, Takeshi; Miyajima, Hiroshi; Yoshikawa, Toshiyuki; Yamamoto, Shigeru (2004-07-15). "Rapid wood silicification in hot spring water: An explanation of silicification of wood during the Earth's history". Sedimentary Geology. 169 (3–4): 219–228. Bibcode:2004SedG..169..219A. doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2004.06.003.
  3. ^ Mustoe, George (2016-05-01). "Origin of Petrified Wood Color". Geosciences. 6 (2): 25. Bibcode:2016Geosc...6...25M. doi:10.3390/geosciences6020025.
  4. ^ "What do the different colours mean in fossilized wood?". Fossil Design. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  5. ^ "Unieke collectie van versteend houten producten". Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  6. ^ Jacob Leloux (May 25, 2001). "A petrified forest near Hoegaarden". Archived from the original on July 13, 2004. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ The in situ Glyptostroboxylon forest of Hoegaarden (Belgium) at the Initial Eocene Thermal Maximum (55 Ma)M. Fairon-Demaret, E. Steurbaut, F. Damblon, C. Dupuis, T. Smith, P. Gerrienne (2003). "The in situ Glyptostroboxylon forest of Hoegaarden (Belgium) at the Initial Eocene Thermal Maximum (55 Ma)" (PDF). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 126 (1–2): 103–129. doi:10.1016/S0034-6667(03)00062-9.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Petrified Wood from Goudberg, Hoegaarden, Flemish Brabant Province, Belgium". Hudson Institute of Mineralogy. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  9. ^ "RS VIRTUAL – O Rio Grande do Sul na Internet". Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ FAPESP Research Magazine – Edition 210 – August 2013
  11. ^ Stephencille Heritage site
  12. ^ Anon. "The Petrified Forest of Puyango". Viva travel guides. Viva. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  13. ^ "IAWA: The International Association of Wood Anatomists" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Goderdzi Petrified Forest Natural Monument". Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Jurassic age plant fossil found near Dholavira". The Times of India. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Petrified Wood Fossils from Madagascar".
  17. ^ Chunk of petrified wood near El Kurru (Northern Sudan) Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  19. ^ Campbell, J.A.; Baxter M.S. (29 March 1979). "Radiocarbon measurements on submerged forest floating chronologies". Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 278 (5703): 409–413. Bibcode:1979Natur.278..409C. doi:10.1038/278409a0.

External linksEdit