Petrified Wood

Petrified wood is a type of fossil that consists of fossil wood where all the organic materials have been replaced with minerals while retaining the original structure of the wood. The petrifaction process occurs underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen. Mineral-rich water flowing through the sediment deposits minerals in the plant's cells and as the plant's lignin and cellulose decay away, a stone mold forms in its place.  Petrified wood can preserve the original structure of the wood in all its detail, down to the microscopic level. Structures such as tree rings and the various tissues are often observed features.  In general, wood takes less than 100 years to petrify. The organic matter needs to become petrified before it decomposes completely.  Petrified wood can be found all over the world.  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 other tint.


Araucaria came from West-Central New Mexico near the Arizona border.  It was collected from a private ranch.  It’s estimated to be about 180 million years old, which is the age of the Morrison volcanic formation where it was found.  The Morrison formation is a 180 million year old volcanic ash flow which extends from Utah down through parts of New Mexico and Arizona.  Araucaria was one of the few species of conifer trees that grew at that time.  It is actually a very early ancestor of the pine tree.  The color of this petrified Araucaria is somewhat unique to the western New Mexico and Eastern Arizona regions. 

Petrified Beech - Lawson County, CA,  USA
Petrified Beech was found many years ago on a ranch in Northern California.  It was part of a private collection for about 45 years.  The color of this petrified beech is rare and very popular with petrified wood collectors.


Black Rock Sequoia – Northern Washoe County, NV, USA
This petrified wood came from an area of Northern Washoe County, Nevada which is about 130 miles North of Reno, Nevada.  It was collected from a ranch near the famous Black Rock Desert where recently the world land speed record was broken.  Also, the playa of the desert has been the home to the Burning Man event every summer for the last 21 years.  The ranch where the petrified wood came from is located just a short distance north of the dry lake bed just mentioned. The ranch property consists of large irrigated alfalfa fields in a valley, and vast acreage in the surrounding mountains. The Black Rock petrified wood was collected by employees who lived on the ranch.  It has just recently been made available for others to enjoy.  Previously it was on display at the ranch headquarters for many years after which it became part of a private collection.  The arid Nevada Desert Mountains where the petrified Sequoia comes from was a lush forest of trees and ferns 26 to 30 million years ago.   The petrified wood is a product of giant trees being covered by hundreds of feet of volcanic ash from a large volcanic eruption about 36 million years ago.  Over time the trees petrified to stone.  These Sequoia trees grew in what is now the Nevada Desert Mountains, long before the Sierra Nevada mountains rose up to change the area from lush vegetation, to a desert environment.


Petrified Cypress – USA
Found near the Columbia River in Washington State.  These were large Cypress trees that petrified about 17 million years ago.  Petrified Cypress wood is actually the "Bald Cypress" species, but generally referred to as just Cypress. These were large trees that grew from 50 to 100 feet in height. Because of climate changes over the last 15 million years, Cypress trees are now only found in the South Eastern states, in swampy environments.  This petrified wood was gathered by a rancher in Washington State many years ago, and remained part of a private collection until recently offered for sale.

Devils Gate Juniper – Elko, NV, USA
The age of this petrified wood is about 36 million years old.  The age of petrified wood is established be determining the age of the geological strata that the petrified wood was contained in.  In the case of the Devils Gate petrified wood, it is found within the layers of volcanic ash from a 36 million year old eruption.    
Petrified Oak Petrified Sequoia

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