Jump to content

Recommended Posts

madeland

My interest is in current earth conditions that would be amenable to the creation of fossils, specifically petrified wood. I want to place wood in a position where it will be likely to form petrified wood at some point in the distant future for an artistic project. I am not a scientist, although I am reasonably scientifically literate. Nevertheless, there may be blind spots in my assumptions here. I would love to hear any thoughts that forum members might have. I would imagine a group of experienced fossil hunters might have a good idea of what past conditions have been good for fossilization.

 

It may be strange to ask but oddly topical as well - humans have been doing a lot of musing on the future fossils they are creating now.

 

I have done a lot of research to this end, but have not found anything definitive. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right place. What I have managed to glean indicates that wood placed in sediments rich in silica may fossilize. This is very broad, but it is a start. My first thought was recent volcanic ash deposits like near Mt St Helens, but due to the cataclysm that laid the ash, there is likely to be a lot of wood in those deposits well situated to fossilize. I would prefer a situation where the petrified wood would be unusual and likely to stand out to the future intelligent being encountering the piece.

 

There are many valleys in Nevada with non-draining basins that have seasonal lakes, and many of these are reasonably rich in silica, being derived from surrounding mountain ranges that are composed of silica-rich rock. This might be a good location, although I am still wondering about depth of placement, best soil moisture levels, and whether the alkaline conditions would be a problem.

 

Another idea for a place would be a Volcanic Ash Flow Vernal Pool such as Boggs Lake in California. I am not sure what the pH of this soil is- fresh volcanic ash can be very acidic, but this would leach out over time, possibly creating an alkaline situation as the closed lake basin accumulates salts.

 

Any help would be very much appreciated! I am looking for places in the western US, but really any place given as an example would be helpful.

 

Daniel

Link to post
Share on other sites
Fossildude19

Welcome to the Forum. :)

 

I'm not sure I understand where you are coming from, here.  It takes thousands of years to have something fossilize.   :headscratch:

 

You can create a form of "petrified wood" by exposing regular wood to a cave - like environment, and have the wood coated in travertine. Being porous, it might become infused with travertine as well.

Google "Petrifying Wells."

Link to post
Share on other sites
madeland

Yes! Thousands of years is fine. I don't want to see the end product, only set the process in motion for the future.

 

The petrifying wells thing is very cool too!

Link to post
Share on other sites
DPS Ammonite

Outside of a test tube, wood can silicify rapidly in acidic silica rich hot springs.

 

EDIT:

Here is an abstract about the reference mentioned in the previously posted article.

 

Summary: wood placed in a Japanese hot spring was found to be nearly 40% silica by weight after 7 years. It is suggested that wood might be mostly silicified after tens or hundreds of years.

 

Akahane, H., T. Furuno, H. Miyajima, T. Yoshikawa, and S. Yamamoto, 2004, Rapid wood silicification in hot spring water: An explanation of silicification of wood during the Earth's history, Sedimentary Geology, vol. 169, pp. 219-228.

 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248233187_Rapid_wood_silicification_in_hot_spring_water_An_explanation_of_silicification_of_wood_during_the_Earth's_history

 

Another good reference

 

Mustoe, George E. 2017. "Wood Petrifaction: A New View of Permineralization and Replacement" Geosciences 7, no. 4: 119. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences7040119


Channing, Alan & Edwards, Dianne. (2003). Experimental taphonomy: Silicification of plants in Yellowstone hot-spring environments. Trans R Soc Edinb Earth Sci. 94. 10.1017/S0263593300000845. 

 

 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/27648510_Experimental_taphonomy_Silicification_of_plants_in_Yellowstone_hot-spring_environments

Edited by DPS Ammonite
Link to post
Share on other sites
madeland

Thank you! Yes that was me the last time as well. I got a lot more specific about it in this request. To be clear, I am interested in petrifying wood in its “normal” timescale and do not care about seeing the results. The creation of future fossils is what I’m looking to do.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Harry Pristis

Natural processes will take care of this.  No intervention is necessary.

Link to post
Share on other sites
madeland
8 hours ago, Harry Pristis said:

Natural processes will take care of this.  No intervention is necessary.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I am interested in making specific pieces of wood fossilize. I am not just concerned about the future possibility of petrified wood in general.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you really want to make your own wood for some future (insert whatever lives then) paleontologist to dig up then you need a lot of nice pieces of wood.

First find a geologically stable area that won’t be disturbed for several million years. that has mineral rich ground water high in silica, calcite, pyrite etc dig a pit below the ground water level.put in wood, then cover with fine grain river sediment to keep out oxygen and insects, layers of volcanic ash would also help. Then it’s just a hoping game. Even things in perfect conditions may not fossilize. Bonus points for doing multiple locations to increase your chances.

  • I Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
DPS Ammonite

Are the specific pieces of wood  to fossilize have unusual features that would distinguish them from ordinary pieces of wood? I suppose somewhere there are human worked pieces of wood that have petrified and are just waiting to be dug up.

 

A good spot to make petrified wood would be to place wood in really deep holes in damp lakebed sediments next to an active volcano that spews silica rich ash over the area regularly.

 

The Sam Noble Museum has an interesting article:

How to Become a Fossil.

 

https://samnoblemuseum.ou.edu/common-fossils-of-oklahoma/how-to-become-a-fossil/

Edited by DPS Ammonite
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, madeland said:

Yes! Thousands of years is fine. I don't want to see the end product, only set the process in motion for the future.

 

The petrifying wells thing is very cool too!

 

A message to the future using wood you hope could become stone? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon
5 hours ago, JohnJ said:

A message to the future using wood you hope could become stone? 

 

Sounds like it. I'm not sure whether it's actually possible, though. Our current understanding of the fossilisation process is still very much in its incipient stages: we know enough to explain the phenomenon, not to reproduce it (although laboratory experiments are undertaken in light of the first point).

 

However, getting something to fossilise naturally doesn't just require ideal conditions now - right amount of moisture, types of minerals in the soil, soil acidity-levels, and temperature; rapid sedimental covering; and prevention from natural decay and floral and faunal turbation (disturbance), to name a few - but would also require these conditions to last over hundred thousands of years, if not millions, without geological pressures causing the fossil to disintegrate or plastically deform. And even if you manage all that, the fossil still needs to be found. Moreover, as wood is a living tissue that expands and contracts due to shifts in moisture levels and may otherwise break down if kept too moist in an oxygenated environment, it'll be difficult to ensure that it keeps it shape.

 

As suggested above, your best chances would be to try this a ton of times, in different locations and possibly under slightly different conditions, in the hope one of your pieces wins the lottery, or, otherwise, enough of your partiality decayed pieces can be found to reconstruct your original intention from...

 

Very interesting premise, though!

Link to post
Share on other sites
madeland

Yes! These are the answers I was hoping for, although it’s not as promising as I had hoped as far as certainty goes. My intentions are to carve a message to the future through this medium, as unpredictable as it may be. Having seen petrified wood where surface features have been preserved, I think this is a possibility, however remote. Thank you for your responses!

 

There may be a spot east of the Cascade range in the more geologically stable areas out there, some dry lake bed in eastern Oregon or northwestern Nevada that may fit the bill. Or, perhaps, east of the Long Valley Caldera. Using old growth redwood pieces like I am planning, exceptionally resistant to decay, might help as well.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...