Petrified wood

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Petrified wood sculpture
MFA# 2001.220
Petrified wood


A fossil in which wood cells are replaced with crystallized minerals. Petrified wood is formed when dissolved minerals such as Silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2) or Calcite (calcium carbonate, CaCO3) penetrate and deposit within the wood cells. The petrification process, which can also occur in bones, eventually replaces the original material with minerals. Fossilized wood retains accurate textural details of the internal structure as well as the external shape of the original piece. In the western U.S., the petrified forests are composed of silicified wood in which the wood has been replaced by Chalcedony. Petrified wood is also found in the Petrified Forest National Monument in Santa Cruz, Argentina as well as on the island of Lesbos, in Greece.

Synonyms and Related Terms

silicified wood; fossilized wood; bois fossilisé (Fr.); bois pétrifié (Fr.); madeira petreficada (Port.); legno pietrificato (It.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

Mohs Hardness 7.0
Petrified wood

Resources and Citations

  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979