How is coal formed? | Live Science

Humans have been burning coal for thousands of years; since the industrial revolution, coal has become an important source of both electricity and global warming. But where does coal come from? By studying how coal is formed, scientists can learn both about the deep past and about what to expect when different coals burn.

Coal is formed when swamp plants are buried, compressed and heated to become sedimentary rock in a process called coalification. “Very fundamentally, coal is fossilized plants,” James Hower (opens in a new tab), a petrologist at the University of Kentucky, told LiveScience. The creation of these plants fossils involving, “many accidents of geology,” he said.

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