How is coal formed in nature?



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    Coal is formed when peat (an accumulation of partially decayed plant matter) is altered chemically and physically through bacterial decay, heat, compaction, and time. When the peat is buried by sediment, much of the water is pressed out. Over time, the complex hydrocarbon compounds in the peat break down and release gaseous byproducts including methane and become carbon rich. The rank and quality of coal produced depends on what kind of plant materials were present in the peat.

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