There are about fifty large tree trunks in the fossil forest. Known in part since the 17th century, they were unearthed during two stages of excavations, in 1979-80 and again in 1987. Entirely encased in clay, these trunks have undergone a fossilization process that has allowed them to preserve their wooden structure virtually intact. The most significant feature is the position of the trunks, the same they had while they were living, held firmly in the ground by their root system.
Recent studies have made it possible to classify these fossils as a species of the Taxodiaceae family, placing them chronologically in the Upper Pliocene, approximately two million years ago.
Special protective covers have been designed to preserve them.
The geological events taking place in what is now Umbria during the Pliocene epoch, about two and a half million years ago, saw the emerging of the entire Italian peninsula from the waters of the sea. Enormous basins of stagnating waters were left in the valleys, extending from Città di Castello down to Spoleto and the Terni basin. This enormous mass of water formed the ancient Lake Tiberino. The Dunarobba forest presumably stood near the lake shore, and was often flooded. Over time this brought about the depositing of sediments, which began to cover first the trunks of the trees, and eventually buried them entirely. Covered by a layer of clay and mud ten meters thick, the trees died. However, the particular consistency of the clay made it waterproof, preserving the trees for millions of years from being destroyed by weathering.
These complex geological circumstances thus made possible a rare event, a kind of paleontological Pompeii, which is now presented in a detailed historical context at the nearby Documentation Center.
Centro di Paleontologia vegetale della Foresta fossile di Dunarobba
(Plant Paleontology Center of the Dunarobba Fossil Forest
Loc. Casacce, Dunarobba -Avigliano Umbro (TR)
Tel/fax 0744940348 www.forestafossile.it - email@example.com