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Encyclopedia > Coal bed
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Coal Bed


[Coal] consists of more than 50 percent by weight and more than 70 percent by volume of carbonaceous material (including inherent moisture). Coal is formed from plant remains that have been compacted, hardened, chemically altered, and metamorphosed by heat and pressure over geologic time. It is suspected that coal was formed from ancient plants that grew in swamp ecosystems. When such plants died, their biomass was deposited in anaerobic, aquatic environments where low oxygen levels prevented their decay and oxidation (rotting and release of carbon dioxide). Successive generations of this type of plant growth and death formed thick deposits of unoxidized organic matter that were subsequently covered by sediments and compacted into carbonaceous deposits such as peat or bituminous or anthracite coal. Evidence of the types of plants that contributed to carbonaceous deposits can occasionally be found in the shale and sandstone sediments that overlie coal deposits, and with special techniques, within the coal itself. The greatest coal-forming time in geologic history was during the Carboniferous era (280 to 345 million years ago).


This multiplicity of layers, sediments over the proto-coal biomass, are thus metaphorically likened to a bed - blankets over sheets and mattress (Bedrock or other substrates). Thus the terms [Bed of Coal] and Coal Bed


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