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Nasrollah Abbassi

Mustoe, G.E., Abbassi, N., Hosseini, A., Mahdizadeh, Y. 
Neogene Tree Trunk Fossils from the Meshgin Shahr Area, Northwest Iran

In 2016, an extensive fossil forest was discovered near Meshgin Shahr, northwest Iran. Silicified tree trunks occur in Miocene fluvial sediments and at multiple stratigraphic levels within a 27-m thick sequence of Pleistocene volcaniclastics. The Miocene trunks likely represent stream transport. Pleistocene examples originated during repeated eruptive events when volcaniclastic sediments buried a standing forest. The site, informally named Meshgin Shahr Fossil Forest, was registered in 2017 as a national natural monument by the Iranian Cultural, Handicraft and Tourism Organization. To date, 16 fossilized trunks have been found, all but one of them representing gymnosperms. The ancient coniferous forest was very di erent from modern forests in Iran and adjacent Azerbaijan, a result of climatic changes that were principally caused by the demise of the Paratethys Sea and by rain shadow e ects caused by the uplift of the Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges. X-ray di raction patterns reveal that woods from the fossil forest contain three types of silica: opal-CT, pure quartz, and a mixture of opal-CT and quartz. In addition, optical photomicrographs show the abundant presence of amorphous opal-A. Mineralogic variations occur among di erent fossil trees and within a single trunk. These silica polymorphs resulted from a combination of processes: silica minerals precipitated in multiple episodes under di ering geochemical conditions and the diagenetic transformation of an opaline parent material.



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