A fossilised forest

2 March 2012

Yes, a whole fossil forest has been discovered – going back millions of years. It was found in the Catskill Mountains in upper New York State and there are hundreds of tree stumps preserved in a sedimentary rock formation that was cut into by quarry workings – see www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229140825.htm. The site is near Gilboa Dam and the forest has taken that name. However, the quarry was back-filled a few years ago but in 2010 it was partially re-opened by construction workers at the dam – and in moved the geologists for a closer look, hot on the heels of the workmen. The research has been published in Nature (Feb 1ast, 2012) and describes the base of the trees as bowl shaped depressions of up to 2m in diameter surrounded by thousands of roots. These are the stumps of trees that were once some 10m in height – something like a tree ferm or palm tree. Running through the stumps are horizontal stems of another plant species as well as tree like club moss which is usually found in coal seams across Europe and North America. No mention is made, in the abstract, of how the stumps were preserved and buried to become part of the sedimentary rock strata – which must have happened very quickly.

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