Petrified Forest National Park

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Petrified Forest National Park is located along Historic Route 66 (Interstate 40) in northeastern Arizona. The park covers about 146 square miles and receives over 600 thousand visitors each year. As the name suggests this park is a showcase for petrified logs that were deposited about 225 million years ago during the Triassic Era.
Petrified Forest
The dry, windy climate has exposed wide areas of the park leaving behind the largest concentration of petrified logs found anywhere. The logs were deposited in a geologic formation known as the Chinle. The Chinle Formation is found throughout the west in places such as Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas where petrified logs are also found. In the Petrified Forest National Park the Chinle Formation is divided into five members. Each member such as the Mesa Redondo (the oldest) covers a different timeframe and has a different look. For example, the Mesa Redondo Member has a reddish look whereas the Blue Mesa Member has a gray, bluish or green appearance. 

The Chinle Formation is a remnant of the late Triassic Era. The succeeding strata represent the Late Miocene and Early Pliocene Epochs that occurred about 4-8 million years ago. While in most Petrified Forestinstances geologic strata continue to be deposited they may also be eroded away. When the processes of deposition are interrupted by a significant period or amount of erosion and succeeding layers of strata come from a time that is substantially different, the interface between these strata are known as an unconformity. This is the case in many parts of the Petrified National Forest and contributes, in part, to the patterns of erosion and the differences in color.

Petrified Forest has stunningly colorful desert and badlands vistas. The Petrified Forest also has countless fossils from of over 200 types of plants and animals. The park also has over 600 hundred archaeological sites that remain from over 13,000 years of human habitation in the area.

The Petrified Forest originally became a National Monument in 1906 to preserve the petrified wood and other fossils for scientific study. Since that time Cultural Resources have also become the object of intensive study mainly through the Center for Desert Archaeology.

Photos Courtesy of the National Park Service. 
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