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Petrified Wood

Wood can petrify in two different ways. Both processes involve the wood decaying after it has been buried in hot volcanic ash. The ash decomposes in the presence of water leaving groundwater enriched with silica. From here the two processes differ.

Process 1: The wood decays in the hot, silica-enriched environment. Bit by bit molecules of wood are removed and replaced by a molecule of silica, quartz, for example. Eventually all of the wood is gone and all you have is silica. No organic matter is left. You may see a trace of the tree rings because the light and dark wood in the ring decay at different rates.

Process 2: Instead of replacing the wood, the wood soaks up the silica which plugs up the pores and prevents the wood from decaying completely. In petrified wood created by this process, it is sometimes possible to see the details in the cells. The tree rings are generally more visible if the petrified wood formed using this process.

The colors in petrified wood comes from other minerals being added to the mix:

  • carbon – black
  • chromium – green/blue
  • cobalt – green/blue
  • copper – green/blue
  • iron oxides – red, brown, and yellow
  • manganese – pink/orange
  • manganese oxides – blackish/yellow

Contrary to popular opinion, petrified wood does not necessarily take a long time to form. Researchers at Yellowstone National Park performed an experiment in which they dangled a chunk of wood into an alkaline spring. In the course of one year, the wood had been substantially petrified. (The petrified wood at Yellowstone is formed by the second process.)

This is not the only case of rapid formation of petrified wood. The Snelling article (see URL below) lists several other instances.


Butt, Kyle. 2004. Apologetics Press: Questions and Answers: Millions of Years to Petrify Wood?

Morris, John D., PhD. 1995. How Long Does It Take for Wood to Petrify? 01 Oct 1995.

Morris, John D., PhD. 1995. The Yellowstone Petrified Forests. 01 Oct 1995.

Snelling, Dr. Andrew A. 1995. “‘Instant’ Petrified Wood,” Creation 17. Sep 1995, pp. 38-40.

Wikipedia: Petrified wood

About the Photo

The petrified wood was in the garden in front of a house at 1347 West Granville Avenue, Chicago, illinois. It was being used as a garden decoration.

I took the photo using a Nikon Coolpix P7700 camera and used Luminar 2018 to edit it to make it look more like it did in person. I applied the Accent-AI filter and then used the Tone filter to raise the contrast and lower the SmartTone and the highlights. Lastly I added the Structure and Denoise filters.

Photo © 2017 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved

Text © 2018. Gary J. Sibio.

  • Question of

    Are you aware that evidence exists which casts doubt on the idea that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Does it make any difference to you if the Earth were not anywhere near as old as most scientists (but not all) believe?

    • Yes
    • No


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Written by Gary J Sibio

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  1. Nice post, I didn’t know that there were two tipes of petrified wood. Thank you, I always love to learn new things. As for the Earth’s age, I don’t know what to say, I believe it’s 4,5 billions years, but I’m open for other ideas, I’ll decide by myself anyway :).

  2. Very interesting I was just looking at a big piece I have the other day and wondering about everything you just mentioned. Mine has this beautiful amber color on the inside. it was found many years ago here in the Petrified Forest.


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