Q:

How does coal form?

A:

Quick Answer

Coal forms from the physical and chemical alteration of organic peat moss. This process, called coalification, takes hundreds of years to complete. During coalification, peat moss undergoes a series of transformations as a result of bacterial decay, compaction, variations in temperature and time.

Know More
How does coal form?
Credit: AFP AFP Getty Images

Full Answer

Coal formation occurs wherever there are large deposits of peat. These deposits are often located deep within the ground and take many years to accumulate. Peat deposits contain a large portion of moss but accrue many other types of organic materials as they progress through time, including plant and tree leaves, minerals, clay and even animal remains. Some deposits, particularly those situated proximately to volcanoes, contain traces of ash and charred charcoal as well.

The ingredients in coal deposits decay over time; numerous bacteria, which expedite the process, accelerate this process. The breakdown of organic matter is an important step in the process of coalification, but the peat deposit must be buried in sediment for the transformation from peat to coal to take place. Sediment burial squeezes excess water out of the peat, allowing it to take in complex hydrocarbon atoms and heat. A series of chemical reactions follows; the mixture becomes rich in carbon and releases waste products, eventually producing the end product of coal.

Learn more about Natural Resources
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the four fossil fuels?

    A:

    Four types of fossil fuels include the traditional fossil fuels of oil, coal and natural gas, and a third propriety fuel developed by British Petroleum known as Orimulsion. Fossil fuels are found within the Earth and are used to produce energy.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some natural resources in Pennsylvania?

    A:

    Some of Pennsylvania's natural resources include natural gas, coal and forestry resources. Pennsylvania is the country's second-largest natural gas producer, has the country's fourth-largest coal reserves and owns the largest hardwood inventory in the country, as of 2015.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some of the natural resources in Alberta, Canada?

    A:

    Natural resources of Alberta, Canada, include natural gas, oil, minerals, coal and the Athabasca oil sands. Especially rich in resources, this vast region of Canada is considered the country's energy province, despite the challenges of permafrost and extreme temperatures. The largest single contributor to Alberta's GDP, capital investments and exports is energy development. As of 2013, oil and gas technology revenue totaled $33 billion.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are clean coal solutions?

    A:

    Clean coal solutions refer to refinement technology used in coal burning plants to reduce mercury and various mono nitrous oxides. These technologies enable the plants to have a less detrimental impact on the environment.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore