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Petrified Wood Museum

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Monday, 20 September 2010 02:41


What is petrified wood ? 

           Petrified wood is a type of wood fossil preserved by the process called “petrification”, meaning “to change into stone”. All the organic materials of the wood have been replaced with minerals, most often a silicate such as quartz, while retaining the original structures of the wood.               
           Generally, the species of petrified wood can be identified by examining thin section of the fossil under a microscope and comparing to cellular structure of living species.

How important is petrified wood ?

              Petrified wood is the key to the past. The study of fossil woods can give us the idea of what the ancient forest was like. Petrified wood plays important roles
1.    As a key to study plant taxonomy and plant evolution.
2.    As a time detective.  It is an evidence to support the continental drift theory. Paleontologists can also figure out the rock’s ages based on the information from petrified wood.
3.    As a tool to interpret the past and predict the future. It provides valuable information of how the past environments and climates were like and what natural phenomenon might occur in the future.
4.    As an archeological evidence. The stone-age weapons made of petrified wood were found in Anyar in upper Myanmar and Sung Noen district in NE-Thailand. They were given the new archeological terms as “Anyathian Culture” and “Sung Noen Culture”.

History of petrified wood conservation in Thailand

         In 1921, King Rama VI visited the railway construction crossing the Mun River at Ban Ta Kut Khon, Tha Chang subdistrict, Chaloem Phra Kiat district, Nakhon Ratchasima. Phraya Ramphaiphongboribhat (Mr. Jit Bunnak), the chief engineer, presented him with the petrified wood found from the bottom of the Mun River. The petrified wood was presented to the king as an “important” and “goodwill” gift from local people. The King gave suggestion to conserve it in the local area.         


            Since then, that petrified wood has been exhibited near the railway bridge crossing the Mun River until today. It is considered a memorial monument of first petrified wood conservation in Thailand. The monument reminds us of how local people appreciated the importance of petrified wood conservation since 90 years ago.

Petrified wood in Nakhon Ratchasima  


        Although petrified wood can be found in almost every province of NE-Thailand but extraordinary found in Nakhon Ratchasima (in area of 20 districts) during 1956 – 1958. There was the construction of Friendship Road and other roads in NE-Thailand.

        The constructions took a lot of gravels from sites in Khok Kruat and Suranaree subdistricts, Mueang district, Nakhon Ratchasima where were discovered to be the 2 largest sites of petrified wood of the province. Without the good conservation plan, thousands large logs of petrified wood have been sold to be the private property inside and outside the country.     

        Therefore, around 1995 the petrified wood conservation master plan has been proposed to establish the petrified wood museum on their site.  

Highlights of Petrified wood in Nakhon Ratchasima  

1.    Gemstone petrified wood       
Petrified wood found in Nakhon Ratchasima have gemstone quality such as opal, carnelian, agate, and jasper. Thailand’s largest log of opal petrified wood was found in Suranaree subdistrict where the museum is located. 

2.    Petrified palm wood
It has a prominent rod-like structure within the regular grain of the petrified wood. This well defined rod-like structure appears as spots, tapering rods, or continuous lines making it the favorite among rock collectors. The petrified palm woods are locally rich in Nakhon Ratchasima, especially in Suranaree subdistrict but very rare elsewhere. 
3.    Petrified wood with various ages
The petrified woods of angiosperms plants have been found in Nakhon Ratchasima. Their ages vary from early Pleistocene (800,000 years ago) and early Cretaceous (140-120 million years ago). The country’s largest petrified coniferous wood (1.75 m in diameter) from late Jurassic (~150 million years ago) has been found in Pak Chong district. Late Jurassic coniferous petrified wood from Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima



  Petrified Wood Diversity in Cenozoic Era      Classification researches of Cenoozoic Era petrified wood found that they were at least 19 families of 32 genera, 60 species in the area of NE-Thailand.

List of Petrified wood families 
Anacardiaceae, Irvingiaceae, Annonaceae, Lecythidaceae, Apocynaceae, Leguminosae, Burseraceae, Lythraceae, Combretaceae, Meliaceae, Datiscaceae, Menispermaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Sonneratiaceae, Ebenaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Palmae
These plants are similar to those in the mixed deciduous forest of the present time. This indicates the existence of the mixed deciduous forest and the seasonal climate in the area during the Cenozoic Era. Similar petrified woods of the same period were also found in Myanmar and Bangor of India, indicating the existence of similar floras there.




Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2014 11:28 )
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