Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood found on Saddle Mountain (near Mattawa, WA)


  • 'Petro" is the Greek word for "stone". Petrified Wood is literally wood turned to stone.

  • Petrification occurs in a high mineral environment that lacks oxygen preventing decay—typically in sediment or volcanic ash

  • Organic materials get replaced by minerals in a process known as "permineralization"

  • Very fine details, to the microscopic scale, can be preserved

  • Can be made artificially (2 day acid bath followed by cooking in argon atmosphere at 1400 degrees C for 2 hours)


  • Perminalization occurs when mineral rich water enters pores in organic tissue and begins to crystallize

  • Crystallization begins at porous cell walls, then progresses to cell central cavities (lumen), until the organic material is crystallized


  • Silicification —A process where minerals are made available by the weathering of silicate rich minerals (such as volcanic ash)

  • Carbonate Mineralization — Permineralization of peat by calcium and magnesium carbonate rich water forming coal balls

  • Pyritization — Occurs in iron sulfide rich marine environments, where pyrities replace carbonates. Not usually applicable to wood.


The coloration of petrified wood is affected by the mineralization elements present:

  • carbon — black

  • cobalt — green/blue

  • chromium — green/blue

  • copper — green/blue

  • iron with manganese — violet

  • iron oxides — red, brown, yellow

  • manganese — pink, orange

  • manganese oxides — blackish yellow

  • nickel — green/blue

  • silicon dioxide — white, gray

  • uranium - yellow


  • Argentina — Petrified Forest National Monument, Santa Cruz Province (conifers, palms) & Patagonia (trees up to 10 ft in diameter)

  • Australia — Chinchilla, Queensland ("Chinchilla Red" opalized wood)

  • Belgium — Goudberg, near Hoegaarden

  • Brazil — Many locations: Paelrrota; Fossil Trees National Monument, Sao Paulo & Tocantins states (fern, arthropitys)

  • Canada — Alberta badlands; Axel Heiburg Island, Nunavut (mummified trees); Edmonton area

  • China — Junggar Basin (Xinjiang)

  • Czech Republic — Nova Paka (Permian-Carboniferous)

  • Ecuador — Puyango Petrified Forest

  • Egypt — Cairo-Suez road petrified forest

  • France — Champclauson petrified forest

  • Germany — Chemnitz Petrified Forest (giant horsetails)

  • Greece — Lesvos Petrified Forest

  • India —Thiruvakkarai Village petrified forest, others found in Gujarat

  • Indonesia —Banten & Mt. Halimun Salak National park (larch, palm)

  • Israel —HaMakhtesh HaGadol, Negev desert

  • Libya — Great Sand Sea (several hundred square miles; petrified wood mixed with ston age artifacts)

  • Namibia — Damaraland petrified forest

  • New Zealand — Curio day (cycads, conifers, ferns), Takapuna Fossil Forest

  • Saudi Arabia — Petrified forest north of Riyadh

  • Thailand — Bantak Petrified Forest Park

  • Ukraine— Petrified forest near Druzhkivka (conifers)

  • K. - Submerged Forests: Fossil Grove, Glasgow, Scotland (giant extinct scale trees); Fossil Forest, Dorset, England (cypress-like trees)

  • S.A. - Petrified Wood Park, Lemmon, SD; Ginkgo State Park, WA , Petrified Forest National Park, AZ; Petrified Forest, Sonoma Co., CA (private; has largest petrified trees in the world); Mississippi Petrified Forest, Flora, MS; Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Florissant, CO; Yellowstone & Gallatin Petrified Forests, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, ND; Gilboa Fossil Forest, NY; Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, UT; Agate Desert, Medford, OR (also has agate & jasper)

  • In Washington State, Saddle Mountain near Mattawa IS a favorite location.


    • Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, USA (AZ, ND)


  • Collecting (such as Rock of the Month displays)

  • Tourism (e.g. Petrified Forest, AZ)

  • Building material

  • Used for ornamentals & decoration — ash trays, book ends paper weights, jewelry, tabletops (esp. China, Indonesia)

  • Chinese Baoding balls (used for exercise, meditation, & health)

  • Believed by some to have health properties

  • Tools (Native Americans used petrified wood to make arrowheads and spearpoints)

  • Scientific research