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PETRIFIED FOREST - Near Khorixas, Damaraland, Namibia. 280 million years ago a great deluge destroyed this ancient forest of Cordaites Trees.

 

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Petrified Forest - Near Khorixas, Damaraland, Namibia

280 million years ago a great deluge destroyed an ancient forest of Cordaites Trees.

 

 

 

Petrified Forest Namibia Cordaites Tree Trunk

Fossilized Tree Trunk

Deep in the heart of Damaraland, a dry rugged area of Northern Namibia, can be found the Petrified Forest. Here you can see the fossilized trunks of trees that are estimated to be about

280 million years old. They were members of the early Cordaites family of trees (Dadoxylon

General Location of the Petrified Forest

arberi Seward, classified as a gymnospermopsida) that grew to heights of over 40m and were the ancient ancestors of our present day conifers and ferns. There are large tree trunks and sections of trunks scattered over the site. The mineralization of the wood has produced some colourful examples where the detail of wood grain of the trees along with knots and bark can

clearly be seen and will make for some interesting photos for you collection.

Kunene Region
2040'S- 1460'E
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Petrified Forest How Did This Happen?: During the Permian Period, Namibia formed part of the ancient continent of Gondwana and was situated further south towards the polar region. From about 320 to 270 million years ago the southern regions of the continent were gripped in what is known as the Great Gondwana Ice Age and was covered in ice fields and glaciers. Eventually the climate began to warm and a great thaw set-in causing floods of melt water to wash over the land that carried with them ice, rock debris and silt. There were occasions when the melt water would become excessive and would rush across the land tearing up and carrying with it virtually everything in its path. It was such a flood that ripped through the ancient forest where these trees grew with such force that many of the tree trunks literally snapped off and were carried to their final resting place from far away and almost immediately buried under a thick layer of sand and rubble. Sealed in this airtight grave the wood was not subjected to the ravages of insects and normal decomposition that vegetable matter is normally subjected to. The site experienced further sedimentation over periods of many millions of years until the trees were buried under hundreds of meters of overburden. The immense pressures caused the quartz present in the sediments to dissolve. The silica rich solution in turn permeated into the wood. The acidity of the solution was sufficient to dissolve the organic matter and thus it was replaced with crystalline quartz. Over the following 280 million years this area was subjected to changes of cataclysmic proportions. The ancient continent of Gondwana eventually divided and the surface levels arose. Ice ages came and went and erosion by water wash and later desert winds eventually uncovered the tree trunks and they were once again exposed above ground level.

 

Petrified Forest Namibia trunk section showing mineralization

Colourful mineralization

Petrified Forest Namibia trunk section showing wood grain

Wood grain

Petrified Forest Namibia trunk section showing petrified tree bark

Petrified bark

Petrified Forest Namibia showing crystal formations inside hollow section of trunk

Crystals in hollow trunk

Petrified Forest Namibia cross section of trunk showing tree's annual growth rings

Annual growth rings

 

Acknowledgements and further reading: G1, G2, G3, H12, P1


The Petrified Forest site is operated under the supervision of the National Heritage Council of Namibia and trained local guides will take you around the site also showing you the points of interest

 

Khorixas / Twyfelfontein Area Attractions

Burnt Mountain

Petrified Forest

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Twyfelfontein

White Lady of Brandberg

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Of Interest: The two longest trunks on the site measure 45 meters and have a diameter of about 1.2 meters.

 
 

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