Large Triassic Petrified Wood Slab (Arizonan):
North America, Southwestern United States, Arizona, Late Triassic, ca. 225 million years ago. A massive and gorgeous slab of fossilized or petrified tree trunk sliced crossways and highly polished on one of the planar faces to showcase the broad interior rings of the tree – beautiful and astoundingly colorful! The exterior bark is fossilized, replaced by rough stone, while the smooth interior features incredible quartz, and agate formations that replaced the once organic material – creating a vibrant surface. The mesmerizing colors are dominated by warm hues of red, rusty orange, and maroon with creamy white, gray-blue, lilac, and mauve swirls and striations. The flat face is sealed to protect the surface and this slab could be mounted as a tabletop, but the beauty is simply enough to just use as a display piece! Size: 23.5″ Diameter x 1.25″ W (59.7 cm x 3.2 cm)
Fossilized trees from this time period come from the Chinle Formation of the southwestern USA, and the beautiful colors found in this formation – exemplified by the colors of this fossilized tree – give the Painted Desert of Arizona its name. Due to plate tectonics, this area was near the equator on the supercontinent Pangaea during the Late Triassic, which gave it a humid, sub-tropical climate. It was a floodplain below mountains to its south and a sea to its west; as a result, massive trees washed down from the mountains and came to rest in sediments that preserved them and fossilized them. The petrification process involves the rapid burial of the tree or pieces under sediment which prevents the usual decay. Flooding and volcanic activity are usually responsible for creating the layers of sand, silt, and ash needed to create the right types and amount of sediment. Mineralized water can then permeate through the wood, coating cell walls and filling the intercellular cavities which then fossilizes into stone. The detailed preservation of the wood, including knots, rings, and bark, are possible because the organic wood molecules become coated and surrounded with smaller silica molecules. Nine different species of tree have been identified in the fossilized deposits in the region; this example may be Araucarioxylon arizonicum, an extinct conifer tree (and the state fossil of Arizona). Fascinatingly, the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived in the region approximately 1000 years ago used petrified wood for making tools and even building houses!
Provenance: private Berthoud, Colorado, USA collection
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Professionally cut and polished with clear sealant over polished face. Other face is covered in protective sealant and the interior rings are not visible. Minor surface chips and abrasions to exterior bark diameter. Amazing coloration throughout.