Friday, April 17, 2009

The Petrified Forest

I finally looked at the photos on my camera from the Petrified Forest / Painted Desert trip. Not too good. I really need to use better camera settings and a polarizing filter. Paul got some great ones! Mine look all washed out and pale. I guess that's why he's the official photographer in the family and I'm the assistant. I get lucky when I experiment with my settings a bit. He actually knows what to do. The ones on this blog page came out pretty good though.

I thought this tree was amazing. Looked like a giant redwood tree that had fallen down and broken into pieces. But it actually had broken long after it fell...after being preserved in a silty bath full of minerals. The organic matter all gets replaced by quartz, manganese, copper, iron oxides and other minerals but the structure of the tree, including the tree rings and bark, remains the same.

When the tree sections break apart or are cut the different minerals show up as great variations in color. It's really quite interesting and colorful. The variety shown here is sometimes known as Rainbow Agate or Rainbow Quartz.

People in Snowflake and Taylor and further out in the desert where we are all have at least small pieces of Petrified Wood in their yards. Nothing like the big trees we saw here though. People have collected these fossil tree pieces for years. They use them to line their gardens and make raised beds and retaining walls. We've seen entire houses built this way with mortar in between. At the Petrified Forest you can see that this practice is as old as time. There's an ancient Indian pueblo there made of Petrified Wood. It's called Agate House and you can see it below.

1 comment:

kim* said...

what fun to go visit there.