Human beings are funny creatures. When we see something, we immediately want to categorize it. For a birder, identifying and tallying species is a huge part of the hobby. For my work as a scientist working with satellite imagery, my task is to categorize the types of land cover (cropland, urban, deciduous forest, etc.) on the earth’s surface. For a rockhound? I’m struggling with identification as a rockhound newbie, just as I did 20 years ago when I was a birding newbie.
Petrified wood is one category of material I thought was easy to identify. When I’m out on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, there is a LOT of petrified wood lying around. By that, I mean there’s a lot of easily identifiable pieces that look exactly LIKE wood, with obvious grain patterns. But as with anything in life, it’s not that easy. Below are some of the obvious, and not so obvious pieces I’ve found on the Grasslands. Thoughts? Are all of these petrified wood?
First, an obvious piece of petrified wood. This is what I find the most of…gray exterior pieces with clear grain patterns, some of which are so detailed they look like fresh pieces of wood.
Another obvious one. Both of these first two pieces have also been tumble polished to a nice shine.
And this piece? This is the most colorful piece I’ve found, for something that’s possibly petrified wood. You certainly see a linear “grain” running throughout. Petrified wood? Perhaps an agatized petrified wood?
Same piece as above, except on the flip side. Again, you see the grain pattern throughout.
A less obvious one. The photo doesn’t show it as clearly as what you see through a loupe, but there are rough “grain” patterns. They’re more little streaky nodules all oriented the same direction. I know there’s petrified palm that can be found in this area, but I don’t know what exactly the palm looks like from this area.
A similar one, with little linear nodules lined up in the same orientation like a wood grain (again, a bit hard to see in this photo).
The photo of this piece does a better job showing the type of “grain” seen in the previous two pieces as well. Obvious, and all oriented in the same direction.