This year at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly there will be an exhibit of petrified wood. It is located in Poster Hall Y of area XY near to the entrances to rooms 10 and 11 on the Blue (Basement) level, a pdf plan can be found here. The exhibition organiser Peter Huber will be at the exhibit each day from 17:30 to 19:00. Preview images can be found on Peter Huber’s Facebook Album or Foto Community pages. He writes about the exhibit:
Petrified wood is not really a rare fossil. Even the small country Austria has about 170 reference points where petrified wood occurs. And yet “good” pieces, such as completely preserved branches or rare species, are rare. The often perfect preservation of anatomical structures in petrified wood is another special feature of fossil wood. Unfortunately, scientific work with petrified wood is extensive. In order to make identifications, thin sections have to be made and evaluated comprehensively. Most research in paleobotany is now focusing on palynology.
The interest in palynology as the primary focus of today‘s paleobotany is due to several factors. Petrified wood in the fossil record is heavily biased by riparian species because stream valleys are the most usual sites for conditions promoting wood petrification. Palynology, on the other hand can give a credible statistical sample of pollen grains – thousands in a single shovelful in some cases. These statistical samples do not have the built-in bias of riparian species and have the added attraction of providing an indication of annual plants as well as perennial plants for a more accurate view of paleoclimate and paleogeographic conditions. This has made the study of petrified wood a rare branch all over the world.
This exhibit – and the book documenting the exhibit – shows the story of nearly 400 million years of wood and the development of trees, As the pictures show, it is a very aesthetic topic! Wood, as a “mineral collector” has as a fossil all the colors of the rainbow, agates fill cavities, and even feeding tunnels are preserved in detail. The pieces presented here are all from my own collection. I started collecting petrified wood as a child, meanwhile I have been collecting over 45 years! The collection includes many pieces I found myself. Here a trained eye helped a lot for the good success in collecting, but for the most part the pieces are from purchases. The internet has greatly contributed to expand the collection with sites from all over the world.
I hope you enjoy my selection. And maybe I can still infect the one or the other with the “Virus Xyloxylon”!
Mag. Peter C. Huber
The abstract for the exhibit is:
400 million years ago plants started their conquest of the land masses. At the beginning, the stems grew more horizontally and just small segments grew vertically. But in the quest of following light, the idea „tree“ was born. It did take several million more years for real wooden trunks to evolve, but sometime around the Carbon Period true forests had developed. And starting with the Carbon Period structural fossils of trees have been preserved, often showing cell for cell the wood anatomy of the former tree. The special exhibition for the EGU 2011 shows the development of trees starting sometime around the Carbon Period to the most recent geological time. A part of the exhibition will present special finds from Austria and Hungary.