Most coal was formed some 300 million years ago, when the planet was much swampier. As trees and plants died they sank to the bottom of these swamps; layers of this built up into a material called peat. Over huge periods of time, sand, clay and other minerals were deposited on top of the peat by changes in the Earth’s surface; this became sandstone and other sedimentary rocks.
The rocks pressed down on the peat, squeezing the water out of it and eventually turning it into coal. To put this in perspective, it is estimated that 3 to 7 feet of plant matter became only 1 foot of coal.
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