Monday, June 29, 2015

Petrified Forest National Forest

The above photo looks like an amazing kind of rock, doesn't it. Actually, it was something that started a couple hundred million years ago - part of a petrified tree. The area used to be a floodplain with many streams with lots of evergreens. As the trees fell, the streams washed them into the floodplains nearby. Then they were buried under mud and volcanic ash, cutting off the oxygen. Silica from the water seeped into the logs, which petrified them. 

After a few hundred million years, the region changed, parts of the land were uplifted and over time, the wind and water wore at the rock layers and exposed the now-petrified trees. In the 1800s people would take the wood for souvenirs for themselves and also to sell to others. Finally, in the early 1900s, the area was set aside as a national monument. In more recent years, more acreage has been added to the monument, which now spans over 218,000 acres and was upgraded to a National Park. As with other National Parks, there are areas with no access allowed.

The colors in the petrified wood vary depending on the type of minerals that seep into the wood. As with all National Parks, collection of specimens are not allowed. Petrified rocks are available in all sizes and colors in this area from private enterprises, collected on land in the area that is outside the National Park.

In addition to all the amazing petrified wood pieces, this National Park includes some very striking senery. This photo shows some of the Blue Mesa area.


As with most areas in the southwest, the early settlers built pueblos and lived on the land, farming it. These were the ancestors of the Hopi and Navajo tribes. There are some ruins left in the area.

Petroglyphs are in some of these areas, the main area is called Newspaper Rock. These symbols and drawings were carved into the rock by using another, sharper rock.


Below is a photo of a section of petrified wood that has been polished - made smooth and shiny by grinding and sanding.  It really shows the colors, and these pieces are very expensive. 

Below are more examples of the petrified logs that are laying all over the park.......



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