Golden Gate Photo - Petrified Forest Gallery
Fine Art Photography from the Petrified Forest National Park and Vicinity, Arizona.


In the Late Triassic Period (225 million years ago), this area was a forested floodplain with pine-like trees, ferns, cycads, and primitive reptiles, amphibians, and small dinosaurs. Some of the fallen wood and animals were buried by mud and volcanic ash and preserved as fossils in the Chinle Formation. Silica-rich groundwater, largely from the volcanic ash, gradually seeped into the wood, replacing the fluids and pores in the wood and preserving the wood's structure. The result is petrified wood composed of agate, colored by oxides of iron, manganese, and other elements. Uplift of the region re-exposed these deposits at the surface where the more weather-resistant petrified wood is scattered over the surface as the surrounding sediment washes away.

Rainbow Agate, Petrified Wood

Rainbow Agate, Petrified Wood

This is petrified wood along the Crystal Forest Trail. Here is a close-up of the vivid display resulting from silica replacement of the original wood. This piece is about 12 inches in diameter.

Print No. A97SW-10-8

Here is a closer look of this photo.

Crystal Forest Trail

Crystal Forest Trail

Once solidified through petrification, the logs are subject to the stresses of uplift and erosion. In this log, the stresses have formed regularly-spaced fractures oriented perpendicular to the length of the log. As the land gradually erodes beneath the log, each slice peels away like a loaf of bread.

Print No. A97SW-10-4

The Tepees

The Tepees

The profile of The Tepees is controlled by the difference in weather-resistance of each bed. Iron-oxide (hematite) cement in siltstone results in the steep slope of the dark red upper bed. The uncemented sandstone layers below vary from white (no iron-oxide) to red (iron-oxide staining).

Print No. A97SW-11-2

Painted Desert Overlook

Painted Desert Overlook

The Painted Desert lies on the north end of the Petrified Forest National Park and is named for the colorful banding of the rolling hills. These bands are caused by the weathering of various oxides present in the volcanic ash and sediments of the Chinle Formation. This view is from Chinle Point.

Print No. A97SW-11-7

Painted Desert Overlook

Painted Desert Overlook

Along the wilderness trail below Kachina Point in the Painted Desert, some slopes below the petrified wood-bearing beds become accumulation points for the erosion-resistant blocks of petrified wood.

Print No. 03-13-4

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