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Petrified wood

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Petrified Wood Log Tumble - Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified wood is undoubtedly one of the most abundant fossils in the world. In many parts of the world entire forests can be found fossilized with little sign of decomposition. Their existence is somewhat of an enigma as wood decomposes extremely fast in environments where trees typically grow. This happens because wood is composed of sugar (cellulose), which is the preferred food for microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. Even modern pressure-treated woods can not escape decomposition.

The speed at which decomposition takes place is determined by the temperature, moisture, availability of oxygen, and the type of wood. Under normal forest growth conditions, most trees decompose completely in only a few decades. Even the species of trees that are slowest to decompose, such as the western red cedar, will disappear completely in under 150 years [1].

Petrified trees never had a chance to decompose, but instead became fossilized. Fossilization is essentially the process whereby organic compounds are replaced by minerals (also called mineralization). Petrified wood is predominantly Silicon Dioxide (SiO). This mineralization process must happen before insects and microbes can consume the usable organic material. This typically means that the specimen was buried rapidly or removed from the original environment.

There are three main steps towards permineralization of living plant matter:

  1. Encapsulation, or removal from an environment that causes decomposition.
  2. Introduction of sufficient quantity of a mineral-laden solution to bring about chemical-biochemical replacement of cell structure.
  3. Time.

Uniformitarian geologists frequently tout that fossilization requires millions of years, but there are many modern examples where organisms or artifacts have become fossilized rapidly. Wood can become quickly mineralized if buried or submerged in a highly concentrated salt solution where carbonates are precipitating. There is even a U.S. patent whereby wood can be treated with a silicate solution rendering the characteristics of petrified wood. US Patent for Petrified Wood Patent No. 4,612,050: “A mineralized sodium silicate solution for the application to wood has a composition causing it to penetrate the wood and jell within the wood so as to give the wood the non-burning characteristics of petrified wood.” [2]. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found a method to create petrified wood in just a few days. [3]

Contents

Specimen Ridge

Main Article: Yellowstone National Park

One of the best vantage points for investigating these petrified wood is Specimen Ridge at Yellowstone National Park. At numerous places around Specimen Ridge petrified tree trunks can be found jutting out of the ground, and many sticking straight up as though they were buried while still standing. Yellowstone claims that its petrified trees represent 27 successive forests that lived upwards of 50 million years ago.

Joggins, Nova Scotia

Main Article: Joggins, Nova Scotia

At Joggins, Nova Scotia are found many thousands of upright fossilized Trees -- most of which either possess no roots at all, roots that are missing their rootlets, or roots that have been truncated. Only about 1 out of 50 trees is preserved with both its roots and rootlets intact. Also, many sections of this strata reveals individual rootlets that were at one time attached to a tree. For a More Detailed discussion of this subject, see "The 'Fossil Forests' of Nova Scotia"

Petrified Forest National Park

Main Article: Petrified Forest National Park

The Petrified Forest National Park park hosts one of the largest and most colorful collections of petrified wood in the world. The fossils are found strewn throughout the badlands of the Chinle Formation known as the Painted Desert.

Polystrate Fossils

Main Article: Polystrate fossils

A polystrate fossil is one that crosses more than one layer of stratified rock. Fossilized trees, for example, are frequently found in upright positions passing through two or more layers. These kinds of fossils offer clear evidence against a uniformitarian view of the earth's fossiliferous strata.

Unfossilized Wood

Unfossilized Wood has also been found on Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere Islands in northern Canada. The wood from these trees thaws out every year, and can be sawed, or burned in a fire, and yet they are said to be 45-60 million years old: even though the wood carbon-dates quite young. Frozen trees from northern Siberia have been dated to only 7000 years old. See above link for more information.[4]

The Axel Heiberg fossils are largely preserved as mummifications. Although usually compressed, the wood and other remains are relatively unaltered chemically and biologically (Obst et al. 1991). Preservation of the fossils is exquisite, including leaf litter, cones, twigs, branches, boles, roots etc. Where these are not compressed, they are virtually indistinguishable from equivalent tissues found in the forest floor of modern conifer forests... The reasons why preservation is exceptional and there is so little mineralization remain obscure...(Goodarzi et al. 1991).

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