Coal - Formation


About 300 million years ago, the earth had dense forests in low-lying wetland areas. Due to natural processes such as flooding, these forests were buried under the soil. As more and more soil deposited over them, they were compressed. The temperature also rose as they sank deeper and deeper. For the process to continue, the plant matter was protected from biodegradation and oxidization, usually by mud or acidic water. This trapped the carbon in immense peat bogs that were eventually covered and deeply buried by sediments. Under high pressure and high temperature, dead vegetation was slowly converted to coal. As coal contains mainly carbon, the conversion of dead vegetation into coal is called carbonization.

The wide, shallow seas of the Carboniferous era provided ideal conditions for coal formation, although coal is known from most geological periods. The exception is the coal gap in the Permian–Triassic extinction event, where coal is rare. Coal is known from Precambrian strata, which predate land plants — this coal is presumed to have originated from residues of algae.

Read more about this topic:  Coal

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