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Yellowstone Petrified Tree

Hidden : 08/06/2007
Difficulty:
1 out of 5
Terrain:
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

A short side road takes you up to a petrified redwood. Trailers and RV are not allowed up to the parking area.

There is a paved pathway up to the fenced petrified tree and some educational panels at the parking lot.

This is the last of at least 3 upright petrified trees that were in the area. The other trees and any surrounding pieces of petrified trees have been carted away by collectors. Collecting any specimens or defacing natural resources is prohibited in the park and strictly enforced.

This redwood and its missing neighbors grew on the slopes of mountains near a volcano. When these volcanoes erupted they caused large landsides, mudslides, and mudflows that covered the forests of the area. The aftermath of the eruption has been compared to the forests near Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Large areas of forest were blown down. The boulders, mud, sediment, and foliage were concentrated in river valleys, filling them up. In other areas a variety of tree species, leaves, pollen, and other fossils can be found. Later eruptions and floods buried this jumble of material and the petrifaction began.

Water percolating down through the soils of the area dissolved silica and calcite from the volcanic ash that buried the trees. This water transported the silica and calcite into the cells of the wood depositing the minerals in the wood. Usually the petrification process continues to replace the cell walls and all organic material with silica as shown in the diagram, but here the petrifaction process preserved the actual organic wood material. Scientists have dissolved the minerals from specimens using hydrochloric acid allowing them to study the organic material.

Through their study, scientists have identified over 200 species of plants that have been fossilized in the area. These include cool climate trees such as spruce, fir, alder, and willow next to war climate trees such as magnolia, avocado, and laurel along with intermediate climate species such as sycamore, walnut, oak, and hickory.

This wide range of species is explained by a wide range of elevations in the prehistoric mountain range provided. Following the eruption, the cool climate species were transported down the mountains and came to rest near the warm climate species.

Logging requirements:
Send me a note with :

  1. The text "GC14YVK Yellowstone Petrified Tree" on the first line
  2. The number of people in your group.
  3. When was this tree alive and when did it get buried?
  4. Compare that age to the most recent Yellowstone eruption (not on the panel)
  5. What modern-day species is this specimen compared to

The above information was compiled from the following sources:

  • NPS informational Pannel
  • Fritz, William J., Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country, Mountain Press Publishing Company, May 1989.
  • The Process of Petrification, http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Campground/5660/palette.html

Placement approved by the
Yellowstone National Park


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