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The Composition, Benefits, And History Of Coal

3195 words - 13 pages

Coal Rock Project
Alec Solberg

Coal has been around since the extinctions of prehistoric environments have walked this Earth and is a byproduct of those environments (Jerrett, 2011). Coal was the gold of industry when it first started out. Coal has made many countries like China and the United States very powerful (World Coal Association, 2012). What are the processes that go into the making of organic coal to make it ancient and very limited?
Figure 1 Coal Producers by Rank (World Coal Association, 2012)
Some people do not understand how certain coal seams belong to certain geologic periods. Many arguments are being presented against coal and its hazards. Even though coal is an economic triumph, it has an environmental downfall. The chemical formula for coal changes over time through geologic processes, but why does that happen (Levine, 1982)? This is what makes coal a very debatable topic and an interesting rock to study in geology.
Coal Characteristics
The texture of all coals are mostly fine grained usually due to the increased heat and pressure that alter the organic plant material. Since coal is made up of organic plant material it falls in the category of an organic sedimentary rock. Over the years when coal is being formed into its complete state, it loses certain elements. Those certain elements then combine with other elements to make certain minerals like pyrite. The luster of Anthracite is very metallic, while other coals have an Earthy luster due to the geologic processes. The color is mainly black. The density of coal is relatively light or heavy depending upon the stage in the geologic processes it was formed.
Peat, Lignite, Bituminous, and Anthracite are all categorized by rank. The rank of coal is the amount of coalification that takes place. Coalification is meant to be the amount of time, depth, heat, and pressure it takes to form the different kinds of coal (Bychev, 2004). For example, peat only takes a small amount of years, heat, depth, and pressure to form making it a low-ranking coal. Anthracite is a high-ranking coal because it takes a larger amount of years, depth, heat, and pressure to form. All of the coals are sedimentary, but one may also be considered both sedimentary and metamorphic. The reason they are identified differently is due to the environments they were made in.
Diagenesis Environments of Coal
Coal can be formed in many types of environments after the organic plant material has been deposited under certain types of physical, chemical, and biological changes, which is called Diagenesis (Kholodov, 2010). Peat, Lignite or Bituminous coal form into sedimentary rock when the organic plant undergoes compaction and the plant material decomposing to become firm increasing the carbon content overtime. Compaction means when overlying material or strata start to pile up on top of a certain layer (Kholodov, 2010). The weight of the strata compresses the layer adding heat and pressure, so it becomes...

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