Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreational Area are located in central region of Washington State, beside the Wanapum Lake reservoir on the Columbia River.
Petrified wood was first discovered at what is now Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park in the 1930s. Specimens representing a remarkable number of different tree species (over 50) have been identified, but the park gets its name from the extremely rare occurrence of fossilised Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba).
The trees preserved in the park lived during the Miocene geological period, about 15.5 million years ago. Although this part of Washington State is today a scrub-covered desert, during the Miocene it was a lush, damp forest.
Volcanic eruptions first buried this area of forest in ash, and then flows of basalt, protecting the tree remains during the petrification process. These protective layers were removed during a series of catastrophic floods at the end of the last ice age, between about 15,000 and 13,000 years ago.
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