Petrified wood has traditionally been divided into two categories based on preservation processes: permineralization
(where tissues are entombed within a mineral-filled matrix) and replacement
(where organic anatomical features have been replicated by inorganic materials). New analytical evidence suggests that for most petrified wood, permineralization and replacement are not independent processes; instead, both processes may occur contemporaneously during diagenesis. Infiltration of mineral-bearing groundwater may initially cause permineralization of cellular tissues, but the wood is undergoing gradual degradation. The degree of anatomical preservation thus depends on the relative rates of mineral precipitation and tissue destruction. Rapid rates of mineralization under relatively mild Eh and pH conditions favor the preservation of organic matter. These conditions appear to be more common for calcium carbonate deposition than for silicification, based on observations of fossil woods from many localities. Because of these preservational complexities, “mineralization” and “mineralized” are more accurate as general descriptive terms than “permineralization” and “permineralized”.
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