Deadvlei is a white clay pan. Its name means "dead marsh". The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the climate changed, drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river from the area. The trees died, as there no longer was enough water to survive. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to have died 600–700 years ago (ca. 1340-1430), are now black because the intense sun has scorched them. Though not petrified, the wood does not decompose because it is so dry.