Formation of Fossil Fuels
Minerals and energy play a very important role in the modern world. Rapid evolution in industrialization and growth in human population has increased the usage of minerals and different forms of energy to a very high level. But one has to understand that the natural resources are not unlimited. Fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum and coal are used to meet most of our energy needs.
Fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum mainly originate from the buried plants, animals and microorganisms which were buried more than hundred million years ago and were subjected to high temperature and pressure continuously. Overlaying of sediments over the burial results in the formation of fossil fuels due to exposure to a high pressure for a very long period of time. Natural coal is formed due to the burial of plants and animals. Petroleum and natural gas area result of burial of marine life. Fossil fuels are mainly made up of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are compounds which consist of carbon and hydrogen.
Petroleum and natural gas deposits are usually found in the coastal regions.
The various stages of coal formation
Peat- This is the first stage in coal formation. It is an organic substance which is formed due to the partial decomposition of dead matter. The partial decomposition is due to the accumulation of the matter underwater which cuts off the oxygen supply.
Lignite – This is the second stage in coal formation. It is a dark brown matter formed due to the pressure exerted by the sediments overlaying the organic matter. It consists of traces of plants.
Bituminous coal – This is the third stage in coal formation. It is formed due to the added pressure. This is also called as soft coal.
Anthracite coal – This is the fourth stage in coal formation. It is formed due to the high pressure and high temperature for a long period of time. It is hard, lustrous and has the highest percentage of carbon among peat, lignite, bituminous and anthracite. This is also called as hard coal.