Approximately 225 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, a floodplain existed here - littered with fallen trees. Periodic flooding buried the logs beneath layers of silt. Over time, silica-laden waters filtered through these deposit and petrified the wood by encasing the trees' organic material with minerals.
Iron oxides give petrified wood its distinctive red, yellow, and orange hues; manganese oxides produce blues, purples and deep blacks, while the original carbon produces the shades of gray. Centuries of erosion washed away concealing sediment deposits to expose these remnants of Triassic woodlands.
Could today's woodlands become petrified forest of tomorrow? Geologic forces similar to those of the Triassic period still shape the Earth's surface, and may create the preliminary conditions for future petrification.
The processes that created petrified wood here ceased millions of years ago. Petrified wood and other fossils are irreplaceable resources to be cherished undisturbed.