Thursday, April 9, 2020

Painted Desert National Park and the Petrified Forest

Painted Desert National Park and the Petrified Forest

We have had so many WOW moments on this trip this winter!  Today was no exception.  Having just visited the Grand Canyon National Park, I was prepared to be underwhelmed.  I was wrong!  We stayed in an RV park in Holbrook, about 25 miles from the park.  There are many pieces of petrified wood, each with beautiful colors and patterns, right there on the ground by the RV park office.   Turns out, all over this area, these ancient trees are just under the surface.  There are a number of shops around town that sell big and small pieces.  I bought a piece for (21 pounds) for my garden! 

Funny story, in the museum one case displays two letters from park visitors.  You absolutely may not take any of the petrified wood from within the park.  These two folks had done that and felt bad about it later.  One young boy wrote that he was returning this piece and, hopefully, the bad luck that came with it.  His bike had been stolen, he had pain in his stomach (may be a ‘hurnea’), and his girlfriend was breaking up with him!  The other writer, a woman, said she was a law-abiding citizen, and had felt bad ever since taking the piece with her.  She returned hers too.

These trees, now petrified and buried here during the Triassic Period, had become solid crystalline quartz by the time Trex walked the land some 135 million years later!!  This area was once covered by a large river.  We learned that what is now South, Central, and North American continents were all in one piece, one big continent.  This Arizona area was then very close to the equator!  The terrain and weather back then would be comparable to Costa Rica today.

From a document in the museum, here’s how these petrified logs were created:
1.      A living tree on the edge of a stream
2.     Tree dies, loses its leaves, branches, and bark
3.     The river undercuts the dead tree.
4.     Tree topples into the water and is transported a short distance downstream.
5.     Log snags on a bank and is buried under sand and mud in the stream channel.
6.     Deep burial seals the tree away from bacteria and oxygen, preventing decay.  Eventually silica in the ground water infiltrates the tree replacing the organic material with quartz crystals.  The log is ‘petrified’.
7.     Further erosion undercuts the log, causing it to crack, break into segments, and eventually roll down the hill.

I have taken some pictures of these beautiful works of art – as usual, though, the pictures really cannot do it justice!

The hills, all shapes and sizes, around here are multi-colored as well.  As the water and wind eroded the ground, the layers are exposed – each layer was the surface at some point.  The red is caused by extra oxygen that caused the particles to rust.  Other colors are beige, brown, and purple.  The patterns are so beautiful!
I will allow the pictures I took to tell the rest of the tale today!

closer picture of the old car on Route 66

foundation of ancient settlement

Dan with petrified log

old car, w grill, on what used to be Route 66

the petrified logs are literally lying everywhere!

scooter left in the parking area, miles from any other vehicle or people??

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