The original question was:
I have recently returned from New Guinea were I have seen trees being buried where they grew, by silica rich springs in a volcanic zone. Surely if this is happening while we watch, then this is a good explanation of polystrate trees rather than rapid catastrophic flooding? Can you explain?

Answer by John Mackay

I too have seen many trees in mineral spring areas that are being buried as they grow, but they are readily distinguishable from the far more widespread polystrate trees, and here’s how. Since the mineral spring trees are growing on the spot, and being buried on the spot, their whole environment is being buried from the roots up. So whenever you excavate any tree fossilised in this manner, then any previous soils, roots, the base of the tree, surrounding grasses, any fallen leaves from the tree (or nearby trees), have also been entombed while the tree remains alive, so you get a blow by blow preserved environmental record as the fossil tree forms. Check out my pictures of mineral spring fossilised trees in the article the article Polystrate Fossil Trees: Flood Burial or Not? PDF here .

Firstly note the trunk outline in growth position, surrounded by irregular strata.  If the trunk is preserved, it is fossilised by the material coming from the spring, identical to what surrounds the tree.  Secondly such “spring formed” trees are surrounded by mineral layers, so leaves from the same species of tree are preserved where they fell.   Thirdly if the area is still active – even the grass and small ground plants are being preserved as you watch.  Lastly since all trees were buried live, they have roots present showing the roots were buried first.

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