What is Permineralization (fossilization Process)

Permineralization is a process of fossilization through which the cells of organisms are preserved that are found in the remains of bones, shells, vegetables or wood and that are deposited on the ground.

The permineralization process consists of cover pore spaces and voids of the fossil remains with minerals found in soil, lake and ocean water. Among these minerals are sulfates, silicates, phosphates, carbonates, sulfides and iron oxide.


When this happens, the minerals form a crystallized mold on the porous walls of shells, bones or plants, which maintain the shape, for example, of a plant leaf, and keep it over time. This process is called silicification and is part of permineralization.

In a similar way, it occurs with the bones of dinosaurs, which, after the permineralization process, can preserve their cellular structure and help identify which species they belonged to.

If it is a piece of wood, many of its cells dissolve and are replaced by various minerals; however, there are cases in which it is possible to identify what type of tree it belonged to. This process is called petrification. The result is a piece of petrified wood of many colors due to the remains of the minerals.

See also Fossil.

Example of the permineralization process

The permineralization process is slow but has allowed scientists and researchers to obtain valuable information about how the Earth and living things have evolved over time.

Next, the permineralization process is explained step by step, using an example.

  1. When an animal or plant dies, its remains remain on the surface of the ground or on the seabed.
  2. Bodies or vegetables decompose with the help of water and other living or chemical elements that are part of the decomposition. Only the skeletal remains remain if it is an animal.
  3. As decomposition progresses, the bodies become hidden in layers of soil and sediment on the ground.
  4. Once the remains are covered, permineralization develops.
  5. Some time later it becomes a fossil.
  6. It is discovered to be analyzed and learn more about life on Earth.
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