Great find

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 09:01:53 01/24/17

In Reply to: Upright petrified trees posted by MO Pat E


I can't believe I have not seen these trees, as many times as I have been in that area. (I have been out to the greater Puna area a number of times, and walked across the lava field to where the lava is pouring into the sea.) Based on the photo and the description, this must be closer to Hilo, where it starts getting wetter. Even just a mile or two can make a big difference in that area, as you gradually make the transition from windward to leeward.

I think Lava Tree State Park's trees may illustrate a noteworthy difference in the impact of pahoehoe on standing trees versus those in Yellowstone or ones I have seen near Gingko State Park in Washington. (We used to go rockhounding in an area just south and a little east of the state park. There was a diatomaceous earth mining operation that unearthed huge logs of opalized wood.) Those opalized trees are believed to have been hit by a catastrophic wall of lava that infused minerals into the cell structure of the wood via superheated steam transport. What you see out there where bulldozers have plowed these logs into 20 and 30 foot high piles are logs ranging from a foot or two in diameter to as large as 4-5 feet, and they are opalized throughout. It appears that these trees were engulfed so quickly, there was no time for the rapid oxidation via burning.

I know of a few examples of petrified tree segments on Yellowstone's Northern Range where people have found what appears to be woody material surrounded by an outer "rind" of petrification. I only know of these finds second hand, and have not seen any with my own eyes.

Thanks for providing the information and link on this example of yet another variation on how volcanism impacts standing forests. This is fascinating stuff.


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