When is fossil fuel not fossil fuel?

Answer: When it is Coal.

Bob Hart May 2004

Having accepted from my first teaching at the age of seven the "Status Quo" on the formation of coal, and now at the age of 74 I have started writing a book on my ancestry, who were through six generations"miners". I began to question the anomalies regarding the formation of coal. The first point, how come it is so widespread across the planet, both on terra-firma and under the sea. If one accepts the ancient tree' being pushed together by glacier movement, then this is supposed to form Lignite, not the Bitumen coal that most people know of.

It is true that tree fossils are found in bitumen coal seams, it would also be expected that humans would be found in coal too, were they around when it happened, or unable to evacuate the area at the time it was forming. Coal is always found in strata form, always the same brittle nature, many seams are in excess of 30. Feet thick, but not solid, there are often strata layers of "share or partings" as is described in the mining world. Has a piece of coal ever been found where the plant has not fully turned into coal? Bituminous coal, and Cannel Coal, are 83% carbon and anthracite 93% carbon, these are supposed to have formed by the decaying remains of "ancient Fern and Horsetail", if you excavate into the densest forest you will only ever find peat!, if you compress the peat under enormous pressure I doubt it would ever turn into coal, and again I repeat "why the many strata's of share separating the seams of coal. if the strata deposit were laid down by ash, how come the same plant being separated by the strata in some cases 5.feet of share, will start growing in exactly the same spot just as vigorous? and form another strata, repeating perhaps three or four times.

So where and how did it originate? My contention is it was formed by carbon monoxide "pure and simple soot". Still remaining on the planet today are many massive lakes of asphalt, tar, and bituminous, if this mineral originated from the results of shell fish, or plant life it must have been transformed by heat, converting it first into "Soot. So it begs the argument that if it had been caused by compression and time alone, would it ever have turned into the hard black strata substance we see as coal.

It does not take too much imagination, to see the effect of a molten mass of rock enveloping many of these lakes, be it through the cause of impact or volcanic. A more pollutant source would be difficult to imagine, these could have been burning for many years, and the thick sooty atmosphere carried by the prevailing winds, to lay the deposit across the planet, then an Ice age could complete the process, after all it did not take long for Mt. Vesuvius to bury Pompey under many metres of ash. If tar oil were to be burned in similar conditions, for example in a deep but narrow pit, being starved of oxygen the sides of the pit would rapidly form thick soot relative to the prevailing wind. In the old days when chimneys had been left un-swept, the carbon could be found actually crusting the inner lining of chimney's, in a strata form, so when such a colossal burning was taking place the atmosphere would be starved of oxygen, thus exacerbating the situation. Then one could appreciate how the anthracite could be so different, 93% carbon. If one thinks the atmosphere today is polluted, what must it have been like one billion years ago
If this theory seems unlikely, what about two huge volcano's under the sea off the coast of Australia discovered this year 2004, spewing out asphalt?.

Bob Hart

I knew if I waited long enough we would get another alternative theory. Richard Perkins from Aberdeen in Scotland sent me the following:

"Try this idea for size.- Between Ice ages, the land masses became densely forested, with fern etc, Global CO2 levels went down as the tropical climate helped fast growth. Rain was frequent, but also periods of drought in the summer months. Due to more vicious weather systems, lightening strikes on dry forested areas were common.

Another source may have been meteor showers left over from a destroyed planet in our system. This would have been a cyclical thing every year. The resultant fires would be wild due to the increased O2, but due to dampness, would partially burn the forests - leaving charcoal as the main residue. This was likely in less than 50 year intervals. Forests would re-establish, and some species actually have evolved only to seed after fires like this.

Therefore you have ancient forests building layers on - not peat, but charcoal. Plants can live quite happily on a charcoal base, and I have grown a few on a high charcoal / peat / silt mix. Growth is fast and strong - the carcoal holding nutrients and aiding drainage. After fires of course, there is no canopy or vegetation to hold precipatation, so when flash floods do form, the silt produced will flow and cover previous layers in delta fashion. This then becomes the fertile lowlands again for a fresh crop - being seeded from neighbouring mountainsides. For any villagers living in the lowlands - this would be disasterous. Farming would be easier, but dangerous. Leading to items of settlements being buried in coal, covered with silt.

This is my take on things anyway.

Warning - due to a number of emails about Bob's original theory, I need to point out that I am not a scientist and certainly haven't been around long enough to have watched the formation of coal. This is a theory - it is based on some scientific knowledge - I am not featuring this in order to challenge the establishment theory on coal formation - it is here to provide interest and stimulus - Editor (16/7/08).

Editor - Do you agree with Bob? What is your opinion on his theory. Please email me and I will pass on your comments, and probably publish them here as well.

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