The Origins of Coal


Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Oil, Gas, and Coal in Our Lifetime

How Coal Was Formed

For Peat's Sake

Coal is similar to oil in that it originally came from living organisms. In the case of coal, though, those living organisms were plants in marshy areas.

Over time, the decayed plants created a layer of peat, which is a soft spongy material. Over millions of years, sediment covered the peat--and pressure and temperature gradually converted it to coal.

Peat in ScotlandA lot of peat deposits are found in the world and, over the course of history, many people have used peat as a source of energy. Coal, however, is more compact and is a better source of energy.

Left: Peat deposit in Scotland.

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