The ancient forest found 60 feet underwater about 10 miles offshore of Alabama is much older than originally thought.
I collected samples of the trees during an AL.com scuba diving expedition to the forest. Those samples were sent to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for radiocarbon dating and found to be more than 50,000 years old.
Scientists who examined the trees remarked on how well preserved the wood was. Cut into a piece and the unmistakable aroma of newly sawn cypress blooms up, despite millennia spent at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the pieces still had bark on them. The forest was apparently buried under a thick layer of sand for eons until it was uncovered by giant waves during Hurricane Katrina.
“It is a little darker in color than a piece of modern cypress, but if I didn’t tell you that it was over 50,000 years old, you wouldn’t know it,” said Kristine DeLong, the Louisiana State University researcher who prepared and sent the AL.com samples for analysis. “I showed it to some of the other professors and they couldn’t believe the wood was that well preserved. It’s amazing it has held up. When I cut into them, they smelled just like you were cutting into a cypress tree.”