Amber Fossilization

by Manisha G

amber-fossilizationAmber is the fossilized resin from ancient forests. Amber is not produced from tree sap, but rather from plant resin. Sap is the fluid that circulates through a plant’s vascular system, while resin is the semi-solid amorphous organic substance secreted in pockets and canals through epithelial cells of the plant. This aromatic resin can drip from and ooze down trees, as well as fill internal fissures, trapping debris such as seeds, leaves, feathers and insects. The resin becomes buried and fossilized through a natural polymerization of the original organic compounds.

Therefore, in another words, amber is formed as a result of the fossilization of resin that takes millions of years and involves a progressive oxidation and polymerization of the original organic compounds, oxygenated hydrocarbons. Although a specific time interval has not been established for this process, the majority of amber is found within Cretaceous and Tertiary sedimentary rocks (approximately 30-90 million years old).

Million of years ago, when today’s amber was soft sticky tree resin, ants, bees, beetles and other insects wandered into it, became trapped, and resigned themselves to posterity. Million of years later, today’s scientists train their microscopes on the encapsulated insects and studied their evaluation.

As pine and spruce trees oozed protective when they were wounded by animals or broken by storms. Insects might have got trapped in the resin. The trees died eventually, and normal erosional forces washed its hardened resin down­stream. The resin often came to rest in swampy areas where the current slowed. Later, it was buried under-deposits of sediment.
Lying deep underground, the resin hardened to form amber. Many millions of years later, erosion might have eaten through the ground and freed the hardened amber, which, if washed into salt water would float. Fishermen in the Baltic racked the amber off the bottom or shifted it from the sea­weed. In the late 1800s people began mining for amber, which increased the haul considerably.

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