Petrified Forest National Park, Navajo (with Map & Photos)

Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

Petrified Forest National Park is one of the US national parks. Located in Arizona, Navajo and Apache County. It is one of the largest fossilized trees, most of which belong to the species Araucarioxylon arizonicum (from the coniferous division).

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

In addition to conifers, fossils of other plants were found in the Petrified Forest National Park: ferns, lycopods, cycads, ginkgo, etc.

The park is divided into two areas - north and south. In the northern part of the park, there is a part of the multi-colored badlands (a type of dry relief, where the softest sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils were subject to extensive wind and water erosion), formed in the Triassic period, called the colored desert. In the southern area, there are numerous deposits of petrified wood, as well as several petroglyphs.

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

Petrified Forest National Park is located on the border of Navajo and Apache County in northeastern Arizona. The length of the park (from north to south) reaches approximately 48 km. The maximum width of the northern territory is about 19 km, the southern territory in some areas reaches 6-8 km in width.

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

Petrified Forest National Park is famous for its fossils, especially of trees that grew on Earth about 225 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period of the Mesozoic era. At the time, the region where the park is now located was located near the equator, in the southwestern part of the Pangea supercontinent, and was characterized by a humid subtropical climate. The site, now northeastern Arizona, was covered by a plain bounded by mountains to the south and southeast and an ocean to the west.

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

At the end of the Triassic period, fallen trees periodically found themselves under a crumbling layer of sedimentary rock containing volcanic ash. Organic matter (wood) in the process of fossilization was gradually replaced by silicon dioxide. An admixture of iron oxides gives the petrified trees a red and orange color.

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

Most of the petrified trees retained their general shape, but lost their cellular structure. However, a small part of trees and most of the bones of animals have preserved it: their cells are filled with minerals, but they are quite distinguishable. This makes it possible to study the microstructure of tissues of long-extinct animals and plants. In addition, the Petrified Forest National Park has preserved (in the form of prints) leaves, seeds, pollen, spores and stems of plants, as well as fish, insects and other small animals.

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

The first European to notice the fossils was General William Tekumseh Sherman. In 1878 he sent several "interesting specimens" to the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. The entrepreneurs quickly learned about the gems literally scattered on the ground. Soon the precious "wood" was put on the countertops, paperweights and clocks.

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Petrified Forest National Park Navajo and Apache County

In 1962, a stretch of the Arizona desert was declared a national park. Today, all semi-precious trees on the territory of 600 km² are under strict protection. Some of them are divided into equal segments - "round". However, the "cuts" were not made by human hands. The crystal shafts broke themselves: due to the movements of the earth's crust, cracks formed in them, and the water, filling them, turned into ice in winter and split the fragile mineral into pieces.

Petrified Forest National Park Map