NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Geodiversity refers to the full variety of natural geologic (rocks, minerals, sediments, fossils, landforms, and physical processes) and soil resources and processes that occur in the park. A product of the Geologic Resources Inventory, the NPS Geodiversity Atlas delivers information in support of education, Geoconservation, and integrated management of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem.

image of petrified forest report cover with petrified logs on desert landscape
In-depth geologic information is contained in the baseline inventory products of the Geologic Resources Inventory, see table below.

Geologic Features and Processes

[Site Under Development]

The excellent exposures and accessibility of the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation make Petrified Forest National Park a world-renowned natural laboratory for paleontology and other geologic disciplines such as sedimentology, stratigraphy, geomorphology, and structural geology. Petrified Forest National Park contains one of the largest and most colorful deposits of mineralized wood in the world.

The park’s forests of petrified wood and other Upper Triassic fossil flora and fauna are globally significant because they provide a distinct record of diverse terrestrial ecosystems during “the dawn of dinosaurs” about 220 million years ago. This period tracks the evolutionary transition of nonmarine animals, especially tetrapods. Scientists now recognize Petrified Forest National Park as one of the best places in the world to study these changes in the geologic record.

Paleontological Resources

All NPS fossil resources are protected under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11, Title VI, Subtitle D; 16 U.S.C. §§ 470aaa - 470aaa-11).

Geology Field Notes

Students and teachers of college-level (or AP) introductory geology or earth science teaching courses will find that each park's Geologic Resource Inventory report includes the Geologic History, Geologic Setting, and Geologic Features & Processes for the park which provides a useful summary of their overall geologic story. See Maps and Reports, below.

Regional Geology

Petrified Forest National Park is a part of the Colorado Plateaus Province and shares its geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with a region that extends well beyond park boundaries.

Maps and Reports

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Petrified Forest National Park

National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas

The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on geoheritage and geodiversity resources and values within the National Park System. This information supports science-based geoconservation and interpretation in the NPS, as well as STEM education in schools, museums, and field camps. The NPS Geologic Resources Division and many parks work with National and International geoconservation communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.

For more information on the NPS Geodiversity Atlas, contact us.

Part of a series of articles titled National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas.

Petrified Forest National Park

Last updated: February 10, 2022