is a sedimentary rock! It could be defined as
a combustible rock that had its origin in the accumulation and partial decomposition of vegetation
.That’s akay as far as definitions go, but it’s not very descriptive.
Coal is found to be
interbedded with other sedimentary rocks
youmight consider to be ordinary rather than extraordinary: sandstones, shales, andlimestones. Coal itself, however, should be viewed as a rare sedimentary rock,albeit widely distributed: even in the relatively few formations around the worldin which it is found, coal constitutes only a small percentage of the stratigraphicsection, rarely more than one or two percent and often much smaller. But inabsolute terms, the quantity of coal remaining after centuries of mining isstaggering: it has been estimated that there's something like 10
kilograms of coal locked up in the Earth’s continental crust.
Coal is found in beds (or
, in coal terminology) ranging inthickness from just millimeters to many meters. Typical thickness of coal beds ishalf a meter to a few meters.
2.2 Properties and Terminology
Coal varies greatly in its properties, depending in part upon itscomposition but for the most part in the degree of diagenesis or even metamorphism it's undergone. This degree of diagenesis iscalled the
of the coal. In terms of extent of diagenesis, coalranges from
(brown, porous, semilithified, and of lowdensity, something like 1.0 g/cm
(jet black, hard,nonporous, hard, and much more dense, up to almost 2.0 g/cm
).Figure 12-2 shows this spectrum, with conventional names alongthe way.
You can see from Figure 12-2 that the principal way-stations along thisspectrum are
(hardcoal). Lignite burns readily but with a smoky flame; anthracite is hard to ignite but burns with a clean, hot flame.296