Friday, August 26, 2011

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

See all of the petrified logs dotting the area?
Please enjoy a little of the history of petrified wood while looking at our photos.  All of these photos were taken in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona on June 13.  We were hiking on the Giant Logs Trail behind the Rainbow Forest Museum.  Be sure and enlarge the photos for much larger pictures.

The Petrified Forest National Park offers one of the world's largest and most colorful concentration of petrified wood.  Located in Eastern Arizona,  the park is about 3.5 hours from both Phoenix and Albuquerque.

There are two parts to this national park.  The northern part shows the Painted Desert and the southern part consists of the Petrified Forest.  Today I will talk about the Petrified Forest.




This is one of the largest sections of petrified wood there.  Its name is OLD FAITHFUL, and it has a diameter of 9.5 feet.  Isn't this just amazing?
The petrified wood found in the park began its existence as large trees from an ancient forest many many years ago.  After falling,  the trees were washed downstream from as far as 50 miles away onto a flood plain which lay on the current area of the park.  The logs were covered by volcanic sand and silt sometimes to a depth of 1100 feet.

This is the base of "Old Faithful".
If you don't remember studying about petrified wood in school,  you may ask what IS petrified wood...  Well---it literally means wood turned into stone.   It looks like wood but is much stronger and heavier.  The details in the stones are amazing.  You can even see the tree rings in some.

Here's the process of petrification:  The first step is that trees end up being buried by sand or volcanic ash or some other substance and therefore take a very long time to rot.  They are also submerged in water.  Most logs subjected to these conditions would simply decompose before the petrification process began,  but for some reason in SOME areas,  they don't.

Isn't this just awesome?  Look at all of the colors (minerals) in this one.


While they are buried,  water with a lot of dissolved minerals enters into the wood, and deposits minerals inside the tree's cells,  taking on the exact shape of a cell.  Over time,  all of the cells become filled with minerals while the organic matter decomposes.  The resulting stone looks  exactly like the tree.

Generally,  only the trunks of petrified trees are found because the leaves and branches are softer,  so they tend to decompose faster than the minerals can accumulate in the cells.




I couldn't quit taking pictures of these beauties.  I had never seen anything like this before.


Eventually, the land where the great logs were buried was lifted up by geological upheaval, and wind and rain began to wear away the overlying sediments,  finally exposing the long buried,  now petrified wood.

In the mid 1800's,  people began to flock to this area to take as much of the petrified wood as they could get.  By about 1870,  great quantities of glistening rock were being carried off by souvenir hunters and commercial developers,  who cut slabs from the logs for tabletops and mantles.   Petrified wood was also blasted apart in search of valuable amethysts or quartz crystals that some of the wood contains.

Concerned citizens (who wanted to protect the forest) went to the Arizona Territorial Legislature to seek federal protection for the area,  so the Petrified Forest was declared a national monument in 1906, and became a national park in 1962.  

I loved seeing all of the different colors,  plus just pondering the age of these 'trees'.  WOW!


The coloring:  Petrified wood can be found in many different colors.  What color the stones will be is dependent upon the chemicals in the soil.  Petrified wood is nearly all quartz crystals,  but quartz has almost no color.  It can be combined with other elements to add to the petrified wood.  If you add carbon,  the stone is black.  If you have copper,  it becomes green/blue;  if you have manganese, it becomes pink/orange.  Iron can make it orange, red, or yellow.

Believe it or not,  petrified wood is found on every continent except Antartica.  The colors can vary widely due to various minerals in the soil. And---there are several areas even in the USA where you can find petrified wood.   We were just lucky to be at the Petrified Wood National Park in Arizona.

Again,  all of the gorgeous colors caught my attention.  This was an awesome experience.


When you enter the park,  they talk about the importance of NOT taking the petrified wood with you.  AND---you are subject to being searched when you leave.  They STILL have alot of trouble with people trying to steal it.  Luckily,  the large pieces are too heavy!

When we pulled up to the check-out point when we were leaving,  the person asked us if we took anything valuable with us from the park.  George said, "Yes we did... We took a bunch of photos and have a bunch of memories".    She laughed and let us leave!!!

Hope you see this beauty someday (if you haven't).  It will always be a favorite place of ours... My prayers are with everyone who has been or will be affected by Hurricane Irene. May God be with you ALL.   See you on Monday.

Hugs,
Betsy

57 comments:

Ms. A said...

I'm fascinated by petrified wood and these photos are amazing!

diane b said...

Thanks for reminding me how petrified wood is formed. There are some magnificent samples in this forest. What a magic experience for you.

Big Dude said...

Great shots Betsy and thanks for the info about petrification.

Jo said...

Omw, Betsy, what beauty. We also have petrified wood in SA but I've only seen it in the Free State, where we live. I have a few pieces (found in my garden when I bought the house) and the Dutch Reformed Church in a nearby town has a "fence" of large trunks like the Old Faithful you show here. Ironically, my my paternal grandparents were married in this church, my late dad was christened there as a baby, and both said grandparents were buried from this church. Such memories your post evoked. Thanks! (your posts seem to do this to me) and THANK YOU on explaining the process to me. Bless you dearest Betsy, have a wonderful weekend. (((Hugs))) Jo PS I LOVE your header!

Pam said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures and interesting history, Betsy. the Petrified Forest is an amazing sight to see and learn about.
Hugs,
Pam

Ann Nichols said...

So interesting Betsy! I've been there but it was long ago... and I really enjoyed this "lesson" from you and the photos! Thanks so much for taking me to Arizona today!
Blessings!
Ann

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That looks like such a neat place! I'd love to visit there. You got some wonderful photos.

Lucy aka Roeann said...

I really need to take a ride up there. I was there once but it was about three months before I filed for divorce and a fight was going on with legal husband then and myself so I don't remember much of it. Hard to enjoy a scenic place like that. It's not too far from here. When it cools, I just may to that.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Your pictures show the beauty of this petrified wood so well. I have had opportunity to see some myself.Actually my Dad found a piece of petrified wood just a few miles from where he grew up in southern Manitoba.It is my privilege to now be the owner of that piece.

Sandra said...

way cool and totally awesome. a new for me, and they do look like wood and logs made from stone.
here in FL it is a 5000 fine to remove anything from the parks, even feathers found on the ground, they have signs every where, so from your comments, they must have the same thing there.

Twilight Man said...

I am so amazed and happy to learn about petrified wood today. I really had never heard of them and my jaw just dropped open like Gaga! They are beautiful and nature's really wonderful. My big thanks to you Betsy!

Catherine said...

Such pretty colors Betsy!
Hope you have a super terrific weekend!
xo Catherine

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

These are amazing that they are wood! I enlarged them and amazed....

Mama-Bug said...

Things like this always amaze me. Beautiful shots!

Amish Stories said...

Good morning folks and I'm sure some of you are watching hurricane Irene's movements especially if you live on the east coast. ............. I have a post called "Lancaster on 2 wheels" today on Amish Stories where i tour the Amish country side taking pictures and observations which I've just posted................Enjoy your weekend everyone and i hope your out of Irene's path and safe. Richard from Amish Stories.

Dorothy said...

WOW! We were just there yesterday, Betsy! You did an amazing job with this post...so informative! Fantastic photography!

TexWisGirl said...

just gorgeous!!! i'm always thrilled to find little pieces of petrified wood around here - nothing as colorful as these tho!

Velvet Over Steel said...

Been many, many years since I've been to Arizona. I had forgotten how fascinating the petrified wood and the history is.

You tell the stories behind your beautiful pictures so very well, Betsy!! Always love my visits when I find the time. :-)

Have a Beautiful weekend!!
HUGS,
Coreen XO

Thoughtfully Blended Hearts said...

Another thing to add to my bucket list...it is getting a bit long!!!
Love these photos and the info... you just can't beat Mother Nature!!!

Linda said...

This has been another beautiful and informative post, Betsy. Thanks for sharing it.

Karin said...

Totally fascinating! Wonderful, educational post! It really is an amazing experience to see all this in person. Your photos are all excellent! Thanks for sharing! Have a blessed week-end!

John and Ellen said...

Betsy, this is a wonderful post! Your amazing photos make me want to revisit and enjoy the Petrified Forest all over again. Thanks for sharing your visit with all of us.

John
connectedtothevinephotography.blogspot.com

Ginny said...

WOW!!!! Betsy, I have LOVED every second of this lesson, I knew NONE of it!! When George posted a picture a while back, I asked him about it and he explained that it was from trees, but this is all I knew. Reading this has been fascinating! I am so glad you explained what it is, how it happens. I hadn't even known that they were turned into rocks! Sort of like centuries of alchemy! Some look like marble, some look like opal!! I wonder if there is anywhere that you can take the petrified wood for manufacturing? Do people still make things from it or is it all protected everywhere? Wood they let you sit on it for pictures? (couldn't resist the little pun)

From the Kitchen said...

Amazing indeed! I'm excited to see the area through your camera lens as I've not been yet. Old Faithful is certainly an incredible eyeful. I like George's nice sense of humor.

Have a nice weekend.

Best,
Bonnie

Daisy said...

Fascinating post, Betsy! I've heard of petrified wood but have never seen any. Looks amazing! That must have really been something to see! I hope you have a good weekend! :)

Chatty Crone said...

Betsy that was an amazing journey - I love things like this and have always wondered about it. I have never been there.

Have a nice weekend...

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

I loved your post! It was great relearning about petrified wood and your photos are certainly valuable! So much beauty all around us!

Blessings & Aloha!
Thank you my friend for taking the time to visit and for your sweet sweet comments...and thank you for taking a peek at my facebook art page :o) Hugs!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

I've learned something new today !
I never knew about petrified wood until now, and what an awesome sight it is.....
What beautiful colors and detailed pieces, and a great history lesson too !
~Jo

Susie Swanson said...

Oh my goodness, that is some beautiful wood. I love petrified wood. I have a pretty large creek at the back of my house and we have found a lot of pretty wood over the years,, Blessings, Susie

SquirrelQueen said...

Isn't that the most amazing process? I enjoyed reading your description and found that I had forgotten quite a bit about the formation. I have seen a couple of small pieces of petrified wood but I would love to visit this park one day.

Your photos are gorgeous Betsy, I love the layers of color.

Have a great weekend!

Lola said...

Betsy, that is a fantastic post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the process. I am so glad that I can see all this beauty through your lenses.
Have a super weekend.

Wendy said...

What an interesting post!! Those trees sure look awesome. I can just imagine how old they are.

Reminds me of when I went to Hawaii and visited a black sandy beach. We were not allowed to pick up any black volcanic rocks to take home. I don't remember if anyone asked as we left. And I don't remember the penalty (except a blast of fire from the Volcano Goddess Pele, LOL).

Anyway, I think George's answer was the best!

Sylar said...

woow this is amazing :P
i like it
great post

Loren said...

While I haven't been to this Beautiful place I remember vividly my Daddy taking us to see petrified wood in California. It is sooo amazing and just incredible! The intricate lines... Wow!

Love Georges comment!! Probably made her day!!

Happy Friday my friend!

P.s. I just checked to see how close we were going to be to you guys. Doggone it, we are 2 1/2 hrs away from you :(

Loren said...

While I haven't been to this Beautiful place I remember vividly my Daddy taking us to see petrified wood in California. It is sooo amazing and just incredible! The intricate lines... Wow!

Love Georges comment!! Probably made her day!!

Happy Friday my friend!

P.s. I just checked to see how close we were going to be to you guys. Doggone it, we are 2 1/2 hrs away from you :(

LV said...

It has been such a long time since I was there. Nice going back through your lens. You are the best at photos.

Ann said...

completely fascinating and totally gorgeous

carolina nana said...

WHAT AN INTERESTING POST !! I HADN'T HEARD OF THAT PARK SO THANKS FOR THE INFO. I LEARNED SOMETHING NEW TODAY !!
BLESSINGS
MARILYN

camp and cottage living said...

Betsy
You always have the most interesting post.
It's been many years since I've seen any petrifyed wood and certainly nothing like the photos you have. I was just thinking what a beautiful countertop one of these would make!

Retired English Teacher said...

We have a small petrified forest near Colorado Springs. I have always been fascinated by petrified wood. I would love to visit this place sometime. Lovely photos.

Happyone:-) said...

Wow that is really cool. Those pictures are terrific and thanks for the informative post!!

Amish Stories said...

Thanks very much for the comments left on my blog Amish Stories. Richard

imac said...

Cant believe how wonderful these colours are Betsy

Mary said...

Very fascinating. I would like to touch it and see what it feels like.

Lady Di Tn said...

My favorite teacher, Mrs. Lois Bennett introduced her students to this area and she had a small piece that she passed around the room. This fifth grade teacher made me want to go see this area and someday maybe I will. Glad to not have the humidity this weekend. Have a good one up there in the hills. Peace

Out on the prairie said...

One of my first destinations when I 1st went to AZ and I have returned many times. I have found many pieces, but not as colorful as in this area.

Lynda said...

I had totally forgotten about petrified wood because the last time I heard about it was probably in high school. Thanks for bringing me back up to 'speed' on this subject. The pictures are beautiful.

Sylar said...

thanks for sharing this beautiful pictures and incredible story
excellent work

Neal said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures Betsy. It's been so long since I've been there that I had forgotten how beautiful that place was. When I was there I didn't have a camera (too poor) but I still remember enjoying it.

Donna said...

I haven't seen this place in person, but you gave me an excellent virtual tour! Those stones are amazing!

Shug said...

Hi Betsy...

Amazing....totally amazing...God's amazing Beauty!!

Hugs,
shug

Jason said...

Great pictures within the post! Excellent to look at! Keep up the great work because you're excellent at it!

Beth said...

They look like huge abstract paintiings and I guess in a sense they are with mother nature being the artist, Absolutely awesome, Betsy. Thanks for sharing the history and the photos---much enjoyed.
Teacher days are Mon. and Tues. then school begins for the kids Tues. the 6th.

Birdman said...

Some truly stunning colors in these.

Snowbrush said...

I was there years ago, Betsy. It's surely a beautiful place. Oregon has the John Day Fossil Beds which consist of a Painted Desert like environment. I have no doubt that you would love it too.

mudderbear said...

Betsy, all those petrified wood pieces look like bacon to me..haha. Perhaps it's because my Christopher is cooking steaks at the moment.
The photos are just awesome...love all the colors in the wood. You really know how to capture the essence of things.

Actually I am wondering/worrying about how you are doing in the Great Storm Irene. Hopefully you are nowhere near it, but I am praying for you anyway. Love, Rosalie

Cicero Sings said...

Enjoyed the pictures and the lesson on how the petrified wood formed!