A beautiful piece of fossilised wood from South Africa. This impressive mineral weighs over 2½ kgs and boasts wonderful colour and incredible detail. Sadly our photos really don't do it the justice that it deserves.
Fossilised wood also known as petrified wood can often be a virtual replica of the original organic matter. Having been through a geological process known as petrifaction, the crystallised minerals which replaced the original organic matter slowly turned to stone.
The word 'petrified' which comes from Ancient Greek literally means 'wood turned into stone'. Each piece of fossilised wood is completely unique and so much of the original detail including ring patterns can often be seen. This popular mineral which can date back more than two hundred million years is Mother Nature's way of preserving the past.
The process of petrifaction begins when ancient trees uprooted by floods fall and are quickly covered by sediment including mud, sand or volcanic ash. Once covered the tree is initially starved of oxygen which prevents decay by fungi and bacteria.
As the layers of sediment build up minerals dissolved in water seep into the trunk. When decay finally sets in, the minerals replace the organic matter as it rots away although the original cell structure can remain intact. When the water dries up the minerals then crystallise and harden but the entire process takes millions of years.
In and around the holes in this large piece of fossilised wood are an abundance of quartz crystals which sparkle incessantly as they catch the light. Sadly we have not been able to capture this in our photo.