A Pre-historic Garden of Rocky Logs in Arizona

Published: May 20th 2008
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Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

An intriging park boasting an amazing display of colourful hills made out of clay which was deposited in this area about 220 millions of years ago! After continuous erosion, the soft sandstone revealed many fossilized organisms from the Triassic period of the Mesoizoic (when the dinosaur era was just beginning). The petrified logs, still abundant in the park, are remains of trees from a huge flooded forest. At that time, the logs' wood tissue were filled by a silica-rich water which combined with oxigen replaced their organic matter by crystals of quartz. They've got all the looks of wooden logs but are trully made of hard rock!

I arrived at the park less than one hour before its closing time. Determined to make the most of the sunshine, I cycled to the Painted Desert and as I could see cars parked within the park, I decided to ignore the closing time. I walked up and down the sandy hills, my eyes devouring the fantastic scenery which was changing all the time with the passing clouds. I took my shoes off and was absorved in my quest of walking without leaving footprints when I heard the park ranger shouting I should get back to the parking lot. I was escorted out of the park just before sunset. Told I wasn't allowed to camp in the proximity of the park, I found a quiet exit off I-40 where I showered besides the van, cooked my dinner and had a good night sleep before re-entering the park at 8am the following day.

What a fantastic place this is! My van was dwarfed by the size of the colourful clay hills which are so soft and have been exposed to so much erosion I can't imagine how tall they must have been. The petrified logs are beautiful and so intriging - even after reading the scientific explanation, I still keep asking myself: are these pieces of wood that feel like rock to the touch or are they real rocks that for some reason resemble tree logs so much? Providing a curious show, some logs still lie on the edge of cliffs, some start to come out of the ground as the rain washes down the clay, lots of them tumbled down to the desert floor where they lie in all imaginable arrangements and positions, delicate desert flowers growing here and there among them.

Fragments of petrified logs scatter the area. The ones that come from the bark or the outer part of the logs look so precious. They are remains of a distant, fascinating past. In owe I take as many pictures as I can but what I really want is them to make an imprint in my memory so that when I am 79 and close my eyes in bed I can remember myself walking amongst the awesome 220 million years old petrified logs!

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Muddy Colourful HillsMuddy Colourful Hills
Muddy Colourful Hills

The colourful layers in the Chinle Formation represent ancient soil horizons. The coloration is due to the presence of various minerals.

26th May 2008

How bizarre?
I've never heard of anything like that! How intriguing.

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