Petrified wood contains no organic matter; each cell has been replaced with minerals making it a rock! But you’ve not seen a rock like this before. Every detail of the living tree is intact down to the bark, easily fooling you into thinking that the fallen tree you’re looking at is recent and not millions of years old!
But how to trees become petrified? It is the result of a pyroclastic flow from a volcanic eruptions. The hot ash buries the fallen trees from the explosion. The ash is extremely hot burning up most trees, but redwood trees are especially fire resistant and can withstand the ash. The trees are buried under layers of ash and over time, as water trickles down, each cell in the tree is replaced with minerals, perfectly preserving the structure of the tree in all its glorious detail. These trees are a marvel to behold.
In some trees, you get wonderful crystallization, resulting in geode type crystals. These trees contain no organic matter so they are essentially rocks! In fact, many of the stumps exposed from erosion are now covered with moss, so one would never know just looking at them! After some intense washing, these brilliant rocks are stunningly restored. Find out more about the history of their discovery and the park that has been family run for over 100 years!
This is one field trip worth the drive! But don’t worry, if you can’t make it to northern California to experience the petrified forest in Calistoga, you can check out the one in Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park.
Duration: 2 hours
Level: all ages