Monday, November 19, 2007

Long Logs and Agate House Trail-Petrified Forest

At the south end of the Petrified Forest National Park in northeast Arizona is the Long Logs Trail with the Agate House spur trail. These trails are about two miles round trip.

The story is that 230 million years ago, in a lush tropical conifer forest, some of the trees fell into a river and sunk to the bottom where they were eventually covered with layers of silt and volcanic ash. Gradually, the silica in the covering layers replaced the wood.

The whole region drifted from the tropics to its present location and was uplifted, and erosion is exposing the logs. Now they are highly sought by collectors. The park estimates that they lose a ton per month, carried out in small fragments.

There are commercial places that sell petrified wood outside the park. The parking lots of these places are all nicely lined with stumps of the wood, in contrast to the chaos of nature.

Some of these logs are more than 200 feet long. None of them stand upright as in a forest. They all lay over as in a log jam.

The logs often seem to have been sawed into convenient sized pieces, as if you would want to turn them over and use them for seats. At the end of the side trail to Agate House, there is a ruins site built out of petrified wood more than 700 years ago. Petrified Forest is rich in archaeology. There is also the Puerco Ruins Trail and the Newspaper Rock petroglyph site.

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