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Last year’s visit to a newly forming huge lime deposit south east of Manchester, resulted in continuing evidence of rapid fossilisation as we collected permineralized leaves, and mineralising wood. During January, Joseph Hubbard and Roman Bojczuk returned to establish that the wood was simply not just permineralizing, but actually petrifying below the surface. Photos (below left) show a fence being submerged by the growing deposits.
Three separate chunks of copper-impregnated fence posts were collected (see photos below). Where the fence post was exposed to the air two samples showed rotting wood at the top, down to fully permineralised wood where it had been beneath the lime deposit.
It is one thing to claim a wooden post is being petrified in this deposit, it is a different thing to prove it. To do this the excavated wooden post was split so that fresh surfaces were available that had not previously been exposed to the air.
The fresh surfaces were cleaned and tested with a dilute solution of hydrochloric acid. The result was they frothed profusely – the classic experiment to confirm the presence of calcium carbonate, the key ingredient of limestone. In conclusion: these rounded copper impregnated posts which were put in place around 50 years ago, have been buried by the encroaching calcium carbonate. They show the top of the pole which has been exposed to the weather has been rotting. However the section under the surface of the deposit has not only been preserved from decomposition, but has been penetrated by the calcium carbonate/limestone, as is evidenced by the froth from the HCl experiment. This is another confirmation that these poles are not just permineralising, but beginning to petrify, similar to the fully calcified trees John Mackay uncovered in Nova Scotia.
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