Arizona – The Crystal Forest

The Crystal Forest is so named because many of the logs found here contained clear quartz and purple amethyst crystals making for beautiful logs. Unfortunately, souvenir hunters helped themselves long ago, taking the best samples away. A few crystallized logs remain but the more typical petrified logs are more abundant. The disappearance of the crystal logs led to the area’s ultimate protection as a National Monument in 1906 and finally a National Park in 1962.

Arizona  - The Crystal Forest

Arizona – The Crystal Forest

Arizona  - The Crystal Forest - From Petrified Wood to Crystal

Arizona – The Crystal Forest – From Petrified Wood to Crystal

It took a while, but we now move on to another state …..

 

Arizona – Petrified Forest – From Wood to Stone

Arizona - Petrified Forest - From Wood to Stone

Arizona – Petrified Forest – From Wood to Stone

Arizona - Petrified Forest - Wood to Stone Images

Arizona – Petrified Forest – Wood to Stone Images

Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning “rock” or “stone”; literally “wood turned into stone”) is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue. The petrifaction process occurs underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen which inhibits aerobic decomposition. Mineral-laden water flowing through the sediment deposits minerals in the plant’s cells; as the plant’s lignin and cellulose decay, a stone mold forms in its place. The organic matter needs to become petrified before it decomposes completely. A forest where such material has petrified becomes known as a petrified forest.

Arizona – Jesper Forest Petrified Wood

Arizona - Jesper Forest Petrified Wood

Arizona – Jesper Forest Petrified Wood

The petrified wood strewn in the Jasper Forest valley was once encased in the surrounding bluffs. When erosional forces removed the softer rocks, the petrified wood tumbled and accumulated on the valley floor.

Arizona – Petrified Forest Formations

Arizona - Jesper Forest

Arizona – Jesper Forest

Arizona - Petrified Forest Formations

Arizona – Petrified Forest Formations

Jasper Forest is a valley filled with the fossil remains of trees.

 The logs are scattered over the desolate valley. Many more existed until pioneers began removing the logs from Jasper Forest by the cart load.

Arizona – Petrified Forest Patterns

Arizona- Petrified Forest Patterns

Arizona- Petrified Forest Patterns

More than 200 million years ago, flourishing trees and vegetation covered much of this area of Northeastern Arizona. But volcanic lava destroyed the forest, and the remains were embedded into sediment comprised of volcanic ash and water.

Arizona – Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs

These petroglyphs, pecked into these rocks allow a glimpse of the life and world of the people who farmed the Puerco  River Valley 650 to 2,000 years ago. More than 650 rock art designs–the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park — adorn the boulders that tumbled to rest below the cliffs above.

What do the petroglyphs mean? No one knows for sure. Petroglyph styles change over time, but their meaning remains a mystery. Even so, petroglyphs provide a valuable resource for studying past cultures.

The great variety of petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock includes human and animal like figures, spiritual figures, hands and tracks, and geometrics.

Arizona - Newspaper Rock Images

Arizona – Newspaper Rock Images

Arizona - Newspaper Rock Historical Images

Arizona – Newspaper Rock Historical Images

Arizona - Newspaper Rock Detailed Images

Arizona – Newspaper Rock Detailed Images

 

Arizona – Petrified Forest – Newspaper Rock

When rocks are exposed to the elements a patina called “desert varnish” forms on the surface. Native people used sharp tools to chip into this veneer of iron and manganese oxides, clay minerals and organic materials revealing the lighter color rock beneath. A great variety of petroglyphs (second image below) are present in this area called Newspaper Rock in the Petrified National Forest, Arizona. (Detailed images tomorrow.)

Arizona -  Newspaper Rock Vista

Arizona – Newspaper Rock Vista

Arizona - Newspaper Rocks

Arizona – Newspaper Rocks

Newspaper Rock Marker

Newspaper Rock Marker

 

Arizona – Petrified Forest Landscape

Arizona - Petrified Forest Landscape

Arizona – Petrified Forest Landscape

Petrified Forest was set aside as a national monument in 1906 to preserve and protect the petrified wood for its scientific value. It is recognized today for having so much more, including a broad representation of the Late Triassic paleo-ecosystem, significant human history, clear night skies, fragile grasslands ecosystem, and unspoiled scenic vistas.

Arizona – Badlands Panorama

Arizona - Badlands Panorama

Arizona – Badlands Panorama

Badlands (Petrified National Forest) are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density] They can resemble a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos and other such geological forms are common in badlands. They are often difficult to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.

Arizona – Painted Desert

Arizona - Painted Desert

Arizona – Painted Desert

The Painted Desert is composed of stratified layers of easily erodible siltstone, mudstone, and shale of the Triassic Chinle Formation. These fine-grained rock layers contain abundant iron and manganese compounds which provide the pigments for the various colors of the region. Thin resistant lacustrine limestone layers and volcanic flows cap the mesas. Numerous layers of silicic volcanic ash occur in the Chinle and provide the silica for the petrified logs of the area.

Arizona – Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona - Red Landscape

Arizona – Red Landscape

Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the park covers about 146 square miles (380 km2), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.