From: <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2006 12:33 AM
Subject: Coal

>>>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,