Petrified Forest National Park

2021-05-11 20:46:42
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The geologic story of Petrified Forest National Park reveals various prominent geologic processes or features (Ash & Creber 2000). This paper discusses one of the most interesting or salient features of Petrified Forest National Park. The paper also outlines four specifically stated well explained and unambiguous connections between geological processes at Petrified Forest National Park. It also shows two photo illustrations that contribute to the meaningfulness of the report objective.

Petrified wood

The most prominent geologic feature of Petrified Forest National Park is petrified wood. Petrified Wood is a fossil that forms when parts of plant materials get buried in sediments and then never undergoes decay by organisms and oxygen. The abundant ground water full of dissolved solids then flows through the sediments as it replaces the original plant containing calcite, silica, pyrite or other inorganic materials like opal (Therrien & Fastovsky 2000).

The formation of Petrified Wood took place during the Triassic period 225 million years ago in regards to Goho (2005). The wood is very colorful and four times as hard as granite. Its colorful due to the impact of impurities such as manganese, iron, lithium and copper present in it during the woods fossilizing process. The Petrified Forest National Park that contains the areas of Arizona once formed part of a vast forest that extended from Utah to Texas. The forest trees during such times existed at the same time as dinosaurs, were similar to conifers of modern day and fossils that are often found in the park. The onset of preservation process was during the occasional flooding when some of the forest trees got buried by sediments and high water depths quick enough that there was no aerobic decay. The water that contains dissolved minerals, over an extended period, gets seeped into the wood and replaces the organic cells with stones. Over the years after the process, the whole areas get eroded and uplifted to form the landscape present to date (Therrien & Fastovsky 2000).

Color of petrified wood

The color of petrified wood is usually red, with black and white bands, although other shades such as yellow and blue are also often found. The stone contains very high contents of silica and is similar generally to agate in appearance and composition. The tree trunks are the only parts that seem to get preserved however they may be complete, up to and 2 m thick at the base and 10 m in length although they tend to be broken up into portions. Despite the fact that the wood may be collected from the areas of east-central Arizona outside of the National Park, most of the significant sites are still owned privately (Therrien & Fastovsky 2000).

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nationalparkguides.com/images/petrified-forest/petrified-forest-np-jpg&imgre

Image showing petrified logs.

According to Goho (2005), the Petrified wood within the park and the surrounding areas comprises of mainly solid quartz. Each piece of the solid quartz is similar to a giant crystal and usually sparkles in the sunlight as if its been covered by a glitter. The rainbow of colors is followed due to the impurities in the quartz, such carbon, iron, and manganese.

Formation of Petrified wood

During Late Triassic period, the drowned trees accumulated in river channels and were periodically buried by the sediments that contained volcanic ash. This is what later the present park became. Silica (silicon dioxide) was dissolved by the groundwater from the volcanic ash and then got carried it into the logs. The dissolved water and the silica in the logs then formed quartz crystals that replaced the organic matter gradually. The silica then combined with traces of iron oxide and other substances to form the varied colors in the petrified wood (Therrien & Fastovsky 2000).

Much of the Petrified Forest National Park's logs lost their internal structure but retained their original external forms during the process of petrification. Most of the parks petrified animal bones and a small fraction of the logs, however, contain other spaces and cells that are filled with minerals but still retain much of the original organic structure. It is easy to carry out studies of the cellular composition of the original organisms by use of a microscope with these permineralized fossils (Ash & Creber 2000).

The park got set aside to preserve one of the planets most colorful and largest petrified wood concentrations as argued by Ash & Creber (2000). The recent research studies at the park have also indicated the significance of the fossilized wood in its pale environmental concepts. The other organic matter such as seeds, leaves, cones, spores, pollen grains, fish, small stems, animal remains and insects have been flattened by the sediments weight above until only thin films remain in the rock. These have then been preserved within the park as compression fossils. They have revealed Triassic animals and plants evolutionary history. This has validating one of the key purposes of the park management and the protection of the petrified wood (Therrien & Fastovsky 2000).

Through the millions of years, the minerals crystallize inside the cellular structure of the wood leading to the formation of the stone like material referred to as a petrified wood. The petrified wood, containing no wood structures at this point, then takes on the hues or the color shades of the minerals filling its pores such as cobalt, copper, chromium, and cobalt which usually give off a Blue -green color, as manganese gives a pink hue as argued by Goho (2005).

Sources of petrified wood

In regards to Therrien & Fastovsky (2000), most of Petrified Forest National parks petrified wood is from Araucarioxylon parazonium trees while some others are found in the parks northern parts from Woodworth Arizona and Schilderia adamanica trees. Of the nine species of fossil trees that have at least been identified from the park have been identified, all are recorded as extinct. The park also has various other types of fossils apart from the trees. Chinle, for example, is considered one of the richest fossil plant deposits from the Late Triassic period in the world. It comprises of more than 200 plant taxa fossils. The plant groups that are represented in the Petrified Forest National park include ferns, lycopods, conifers, ginkgoes cycads, conifers and as some unclassified forms. The park has also got many fossil vertebrates such as large salamander-like amphibians called Buettneria, giant crocodile-like reptiles known as phytosaurs and early invertebrates and dinosaurs including clams and freshwater snails (Ash & Creber 2000).

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://cache1.asset-cache.net/gc/128557741-petrified-wood-at-the-petrified-forest-gettyimages.jpgImage of Araucarioxylon arizonicum that has undergone petrification

According Therrien & Fastovsky (2000), the strewn petrified trees today lay within cliff faces across clay hills with each log broken into large portions. When subjected to stress, the quartz within the petrified fractures easily since its brittle and hard as once observed during the Colorado plateau gradual uplifting, with its start about 60 million years ago. The petrified trees that were still buried got under so much stress that they broke as glass rods. The quartzs crystal nature formed evenly spaced clean fractures along the tree trunks which is the appearance of todays of logs when cut with a chainsaw

Conclusion

The most prominent geologic feature of Petrified Forest National Park is petrified wood. The petrified wood forms the distinctive characteristics of the parks geologic story. The formation of Petrified Wood took place during the Triassic period 225 million years ago. The color of the petrified wood is usually red, with black and white bands, although other shades such as yellow and blue are also often found. During Late Triassic period, the drowned trees accumulated in river channels and were periodically buried by the sediments that contained volcanic ash. Much of the logs in the Petrified Forest National Park lost their internal structure but retained their original external forms during the process of petrification. Most of Petrified Forest National parks petrified wood is from Araucarioxylon parazonium trees while some others are found in the parks northern parts from Woodworth Arizona and Schilderia adamanica trees. It is easy to carry out studies of the cellular composition of the original organisms by use of a microscope with these permineralized fossils. The park got set aside to preserve one of the planets most colorful and largest petrified wood concentrations according to Goho (2005).

The Recent research studies at the park have also indicated the significance of the fossilized wood in its pale environmental concepts. They have revealed Triassic animals and plants evolutionary histories. This has validating one of the key purposes of the park management and the protection of the petrified wood. The strewn petrified trees today lay within cliff faces across clay hills with each log broken into large portions. Through the millions of years, the minerals crystallize inside the cellular structure of the wood leading to the formation of the stone like material referred to as petrified wood. The Petrified wood within the park and the surrounding areas comprises of mainly solid quartz. Each piece of the solid quartz is similar to a giant crystal and usually sparkles in the sunlight as if its been covered by a glitter (Ash & Creber, 2000).Reference

Ash, S. R., & Creber, G. T. (2000). The Late Triassic Araucarioxylon Arizonicum trees of the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA. Palaeontology, 43(1), 15-28.

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://cache1.asset-cache.net/gc/128557741-petrified-wood-at-the-petrified-forest-gettyimages.jpg.

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nationalparkguides.com/images/petrified-forest/petrified-forest-np-jpg&imgre.

Goho, A. (2005). Petrified wood: Quick and easy. Sci News Science News, 167(6), 85-85.Therrien, F., & Fastovsky, D. E. (2000). Paleoenvironments of Early Theropods, Chinle Formation (Late Triassic), Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Palaios, 15(3), 194-211

 

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