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In my book, I came across this question:

Give reason why formation of petrified tress is considered as a degradation and a sedimentation action of the underground water.

My book explains that underground water replaces the original plant material in trees with silica and other inorganic materials, and states this as a sedimentation action of underground water. But I don't understand the part of "degradation action" in the question, I think underground water only replaces the plant material in trees so why we consider this to be a degradation action? Or the degradation action mentioned in the question is something else? And if yes, could you explain it for me? Thanks in advance!

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But I don't understand the part of "degradation action" in the question, I think underground water only replaces the plant material in trees...

Degradation refers to the process of aqueous dissolution of the organic materials; the fact is, organic materials are generally quickly dissolved after the death of a living organism...degraded into nothing before the fossilization process can even start. (Think of the carbon cycle and how organic compounds are re-used over and over again over the eons of life on this planet.)

It's a bit of a misnomer in this case because it ignores the simultaneous replacement of that organic matter with inorganic siliceous materials.

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