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Man finds rare forest of stone in driveway

Washington State, USA

Clyde Friend shows a section of petrified log stored in one of several shipping containers in Yakima, Washington, on April 26.
May 10, 2007
Vast areas of what is now Washington state were covered with lava flows that seeped from cracks in the earth from about 17.5 million years ago until about 6 million years ago. Pauses among the flows would have allowed forests to grow, only to be incinerated, entombed or displaced by the next rush of lava. The well-known Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park at Vantage, Washington, has lots of petrified logs; they are strewn around on the ground. Scientists think they were transported by mud flow, then preserved in lava. But now a man is unearthing ancient trees that are still upright, part of a forest that is more than 15 million years old. His trees were likely first submerged upright in a lake, which would have kept them from burning when the lava came through. The trees, now petrified wood, are rare for both their quality and variety. But scientists are still puzzling over some mysteries: Why are there no roots, or evidence of them? Did the trees really grow just where they now stand, or were they transported?

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