From: <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2006 12:33 AM
>>>Hey there, Todd,
>>>I love your daily facts from the TV. They totally crack me up. =)
>>>Now, I don't know if you actually care to clear up the uncertainties
>>>with the coal thing, but as a geology graduate, I had to learn the
>>>whole coal thing in school. The coal is formed over millions of
>>>years (for example, there's the Carboniferous period 299-359 million
>>>years ago. Its called the Carboniferous because the rocks from that
>>>time period that contain the most coal [which is made entirely of
>>>carbon]). So anyway, coal starts out in a swamp where plants keel
>>>over and die and get covered up in stagnant waters that lack
>>>sufficient oxygen, thus preventing decomposition of the plant
>>>material. As the material accumulates, the older material gets
>>>buried and eventually its under so much pressure that it forms the
>>>rock we all know and love called coal. There's actually like 6
>>>different stages of the coal transformation- they all have their own names.
This website illustrates the whole process incredibly well.
>>>An interesting tid bit: when I was in Wyoming this summer (for a
>>>required geology field course), we drove past these unusual rock
>>>units. They were terracotta red on top and pitch black on the bottom
>>>(and 10s of feet thick). Turns out, the black was a coal seam and the
>>>red unit on top was a different rock unit that had been cooked by
>>>intense heat. That heat was from when a bolt of lightening struck an
>>>exposed part of the coal unit and set it on fire. The fire followed
>>>the coal seam under ground and literally cooked the rock on top of it
>>>giving it the terracotta color. I dunno about you, but I thought
>>>that was pretty cool. Fires in coal seams are nearly impossible to
>>>put out; you pretty much just have to wait for them to die out.
>>>Finally, the coal provides energy that we then convert to electricity
>>>when you burn it.
>>>That's probably more than you'd ever really care to learn about coal,
>>>but I'm bored and I thought maybe you might be interested. Feel free
>>>to contact me for any future rock questions!
>>>Your loyal rock nerd,