Alumni donate 3,400 lb. petrified log to Columbia Basin College

Alumni donate 3,400 lb. petrified log to Columbia Basin College

A piece of ancient history now sits in the lobby of the math and science building at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

A 3,400 lb. petrified log was donated to the geology department by CBC alumni Richard and Gayle Kerr, in honor of their late uncle, Kyle Starkey. It’s estimated to be worth anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000, and that number could be higher depending on the interior of the log.

Alumni donate 3,400 lb. petrified log to Columbia Basin College

“He called it a true miracle of nature,” said Gayle Kerr. “We believe Kyle would be pleased knowing that his ‘treasure’ was moved to CBC where it will continue being preserved and students can enjoy it for many years to come.”

Starkey is believed to have found the log in the late 1950s near Grand Coulee Dam. Starkey, who worked for a crane company, brought the log home and kept it in his front yard until now.

“It gives the environmental sciences club a good project, they’re excited,” said Rod Taylor, CBC’s dean for math, science and engineering. “It’s also a great showpiece when you walk into our building; you see it right when you walk through the door.”

Taylor said the club plans to figure out the species of the log and learn more about where exactly it was found.

Petrified wood is Washington State’s official gem, despite being considered a fossil. It forms when plant material is buried by sediment and protected from decay due to oxygen and organisms. Groundwater that is rich in dissolved solids then flows through the sediment, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, pyrite or another inorganic material such as opal.

“It’s rare to find a piece this large of petrified wood,” said Taylor, “It’s a wonderful donation to our program, and we’re excited to have it.”