The transformation of vegetable matter into peat and coal is commonly regarded as proceeding in two steps, called the biochemical and physicochemical stage of coalification (Stach et al. 1982), respectively. Other terms, such as “first and second phase” (Mackowsky 1953), or “diagenetic and metamorphic stage” (Teichmüller 1962) have been used to describe the coalification process. During biochemical coalification organisms initiate and assist in the chemical decomposition of vegetal matter and its conversion into peat and brown coal. The results of this process, i.e. the type of peat and coal formed, depend on the phytogenic input and the environmental conditions under which it is transformed into peat. Different biological, chemical and physical constraints result in different peat types which during the subsequent physicochemical coalification are transformed into different coal types without losing their palaeo-environmental signature. Because of the causal links between coal types and depositional setting the following discussion will emphasise the conditions and results of biochemical coalification, whereas physicochemical coalification will be dealt with less rigorously.
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- The Coalification Process
Claus F. K. Diessel
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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