Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Out West Part 5: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

We went for a short hike at this one. We followed the Petrified Forest Trail and a little of the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows, but we determined that was a little too hot and tough for Calli.  

Entering the Park the ranger pretty much just said that it is extremely hot, be careful, take lots of water.

 There were quite a lot of uphill walking, rocks, ledges, tree roots, and various pokey things.  

Some of the Petrified Forest State Park's FAQ:

What mineral[s] replaced the wood? The mineral silica, from volcanic ash, in various stages of crystallization replaced most of the organic wood. Minor minerals, such as iron, manganese, and carbon add the rainbow of colors.
Where were the volcanoes that provided the ash and silica to petrify these logs? Most researchers explain that there were volcanoes to the west, some add that there may have been some to the south.
What do all the colors in the petrified wood represent?The various colors represent the trace minerals in the quartz. Iron and manganese account for much of the coloration, carbon also can add black, and—rarely, there is chromium that provides a true green.
Why do some of the petrified logs look like “real wood”? In some cases the wood has not been completely agatized. The “woody” structure has been preserved and the fossilization process is called, “permineralization.” When a small chip is dissolved in hydrofluoric acid, a small percent of lignin is still observed with biologic staining.

As a rock collector, this trail was pretty difficult for me.  I desperately wanted to snag some of these fine treasures. But I am proud to say, I left the State Park fully in tact for the enjoyment of generations to come. I also hope others are as responsible.

I've always had a fascination with petrified wood, so here are a couple sites with pictures and explanations of how it happens.  Science: this one uses microscopes to show the crystal formations in the cells and also shows which minerals create the different colors in the wood.  Other sites Wikipedia on Petrified Wood &  Gemology for Kids.

I just like the firewood sign beside all dry grasses. There were campfire bans across every park while we were visiting.

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