Ancient tropical forest found under volcanic ash in China
February 22, 2012
Researchers recently discovered a tropical forest near Wuna, China, which had been covered in volcanic ash for nearly 300 million years. The preservation of the forest indicates that the event happened within a matter of days, according to the BBC News. Using fossilized evidence, the scientists were able to construct a visual representation of the ancient rainforest before it was destroyed by a nearby volcanic eruption.
"It's marvelously preserved," said University of Pennsylvania paleobotanist and study researcher Hermann Pfefferkorn. "We can stand there and find a branch with the leaves attached, and then we find the next branch and the next branch and the next branch. And then we find the stump from the same tree. That's really exciting."
After examining three different locations of a large area, the researchers found evidence of six different tree groups, some of which have been long extinct. The discovery of coal deposits indicates that it was once a peat-deposit forest, but the peat had all turned to coal after hundreds of millions of years of compression under the volcanic ash.