Petrified wood

"Petrified forest" redirects here. For the 1936 film, see The Petrified Forest.
The image shows the center of a polished slice of a petrified tree from the late Triassic period (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 stump exposed at low tide on Ynyslas beach, Wales
Petrified Acacia wood
Puyango petrified forest

Petrified wood (from the Greek 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] 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:

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Petrified wood is a fossil in which the organic remains have been replaced by minerals in the slow process of being replaced with stone.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. Exotic minerals allow the red and green hues that can be seen in rarer specimens.


Areas with a large number of petrified trees include:

Artificial petrified wood

Artificial petrified wood has been produced in a Washington laboratory. In the process, small cubes of pine are soaked in an acid bath for two days, then in a silica solution for another two. The product is then cooked at 1400 °C in an argon atmosphere for two hours. The result was silicon carbide ceramic which preserved the intricate cell structure of the wood.[13][14]

See also


  1. "Frequently Asked Questions - Petrified Forest National Park (U.S. National Park Service)".
  2. "Unieke collectie van versteend houten producten". Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  3. Jacob Leloux (May 25, 2001). "A petrified forest near Hoegaarden". Archived from the original on July 13, 2004.
  4. 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): 103–129. doi:10.1016/S0034-6667(03)00062-9.
  5. "Petrified Wood from Goudberg, Hoegaarden, Flemish Brabant Province, Belgium". Hudson Institute of Mineralogy. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  6. "RS VIRTUAL - O Rio Grande do Sul na Internet".
  7. FAPESP Research Magazine - Edition 210 - August 2013
  8. Anon. "The Petrified Forest of Puyango". Viva travel guides. Viva. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  9. "IAWA: The International Association of Wood Anatomists" (PDF).
  10. "Jurassic age plant fossil found near Dholavira". The Times of India. Retrieved 7 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  12. Campbell, J.A.; Baxter M.S. (29 March 1979). "Radiocarbon measurements on submerged forest floating chronologies". Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 278 (5703): 409–413. doi:10.1038/278409a0. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  13. Petrified Wood in Days,, January 25, 2005
  14. Presto! Instant Petrified Wood Created in Lab, Live Science, 27 January 2005
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