What Is Petrified Wood?

You don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate petrified wood. A geological wonder, petrified wood looks like real wood but is actually stone! Learn more about this fascinating material.

What is Petrified Wood?

Petrified wood is plant matter that has fossilized over time. Petrified wood can look startlingly like the original material, replicating such details as tree rings and bark.

How Does Petrified Wood Form?

Normally, when trees fall and die, they start to immediately decompose. However, some trees get buried in layers of volcanic ash or silt. Protected from the oxygen and insects that would normally cause rapid decay, they break down much more slowly.

In the meantime, groundwater filled with silica and other minerals gets absorbed into the tree. As the tree slowly decomposes, its organic material is replaced by the minerals, which then crystalize over the course of millions of years. The result is a fossil that looks exactly like the original tree!

Where Can I Find Petrified Wood?

Like any other stone, petrified wood is now mined and used for things like décor and home accents. You’ll also find rare petrified wood specimens in museums and science centers. For a real treat, you can visit petrified wood forests. These are areas that have large deposits of petrified wood throughout the landscape. Found all over the world, you can visit petrified forests in Greece, New Zealand, and the USA.