How Does Santa Make His Coal?

Have you been naughty or nice this year? Chances are, if you’ve been naughty that you might be the unhappy recipient of a few nuggets of Santa’s coal this year. But, just how does Santa make that coal? Do the elves quietly manufacture chunks of coal each year or does Santa have a little help from someone else…Mother Nature, perhaps?

Coal forms from dead plant matter that builds up in a swampy area. As shrubs and trees die in the swamp, they fall forming layers of decomposing material or peat. As more layers of plant matter and sediment deposit on top, the peat is buried deeper and deeper below the land surface. As the layers become deeper underground, the pressure and heat increases, changing the peat into coal. This process is called coalification.

There are several types of coal. These types form based on the coalification process. Geologists classify three of these types, lignite, sub-bituminous and bituminous as sedimentary rocks, but, the fourth type, anthracite, is a metamorphic rock. Lignite is the youngest and anthracite is oldest in terms of time buried under extreme heat and pressure.

So, what type of coal will be in your stocking this year?

 

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