When you look at petrified wood, you see yourself.
This petrified wood specimen is a reminder of how an ancient rock has molded world history. Petrified wood is a tangible idea that was born before the scope of human existence. Beholding this object is beholding our imagination, and its journey encompasses factors that are only limited by our minds.
Petrified woods are literally wood turned to stone. They have undergone a chemical process called permineralization, where minerals replace organic material but retain the tree’s natural structure. The more wood structure preserved, the more secrets a specimen holds about the ecological, environmental, geological, and anthropological story of its resting place.
This piece points to the ancient volcanism of Grassy Mountain in Vale, Oregon, the continental formation of the West Coast, the region’s paleoclimate and paleoecosystem, ancient planetary positions, and more. Understanding the formation process and the language nature speaks through it is key to unlocking such secrets of the natural past.
Petrified wood embodies natural change because it reflects the continuous evolution of the land; death, because the tree suddenly, unexpectedly died one day; immortality, as the specimen was preserved and is admired millions of years after its life; beauty, and wisdom.
By Zoe Hern