Mt. St. Helens and Petrified Forest Formation


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Petrified Forest Formation:

The eruption on May 18, 1980 produced the largest landslide in recorded history 1

This crashed into Spirit Lake just below the Mountain, which resulted in a tidal wave that crested at just around 850 feet

  • The wave stripped the forests from the slopes adjacent to the lake and deposited millions of trees into what was left of the lake 2

Initially, millions of logs were floating over a two-square mile area in Spirit Lake

  • There was so much debris (between the rock material and floating timber) that the level of Spirit Lake rose as much as 200 feet 3


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Over the past three decades the floating logs have little by little dropped down below the surface

  • At least 19,000 such logs (with roots still in tact), have settled in a prone (or upright) position into the sediment at the bottom of the lake) 4

As these trees get buried in sediment over time (and some already are buried), there will be a tendency for many to petrify (i.e., the Carbon based material will be replaced by mineral)

  • The trees have dropped to the bottom of Spirit Lake at different points over the past 30 years and have settled at different depths, depending upon where they drop down in the lake 5

The Institute for Creation Research makes an important point in light of this:

“The upright trees were deposited at different times, with their roots buried at different levels. If found buried in the stratigraphic record, these trees might be interpreted as multiple forests which grew on different levels over periods of thousands of years. The Spirit Lake upright deposited stumps, therefore, have considerable implications for interpreting “petrified forests” in the stratigraphic record.” 6



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This is a good illustration of how trees are being deposited over time in the sediments at the bottom of Spirit Lake


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Similar features are evidenced in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona or the petrified forests found in Yellowstone National Park

  • It makes you wonder just how long it might have taken such beautiful formations like this to develop