Formation of Coal, Process of Formation of Coal, Uses of Coal, Fossil Fuels, Question (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

Get unlimited access to the best preparation resource for competitive exams : get questions, notes, tests, video lectures and more- for all subjects of your exam.

What is Coal?

  • Coal is a fossil fuel and is the altered remains of prehistoric vegetation that originally accumulated in swamps and peat bogs.
  • Coal is fossil fuel or fuel that comes from the remains of prehistoric plants or animals.

How is Coal Formed?

  • The formation of coal takes millions of years, which is why it is an exhaustible and non-renewable natural resource.
  • It was formed around 300 million years ago when the earth was covered with swampy forests.
  • When plants in these forests- mainly trees, mosses, ferns, and reeds died, they fell into the swamps.
  • There was a thick layer of dead vegetation in the swamp formed.
  • As years passed, more and more plants died and many such layers were formed, one above each other.
  • The topmost layers compressed the layers below. Heat and pressure caused some physical and chemical changes and eventually, some carbon-rich deposits were formed.

Process of Formation of Coal

First Stage – Peat

  • This is the first stage in the formation of coal. 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.

Second Stage – Lignite

  • This is the second stage in the coal formation.
  • It is a dark brown matter formed due to the pressure exerted by the sediments overlying the organic matter. It consists of traces of plants

Third Stage – Bituminous Coal

This is the third stage in the formation of coal. It is formed due to the added pressure. This is also called as soft coal.

Fourth Stage – Anthracite Coal

  • This is the fourth stage in the 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.
  • Petroleum and natural gas deposits are usually found in the coastal regions.

Uses of Coal

  • It is mainly used to generate heat and electricity.
  • It is used in households and in industries to accomplish various tasks.
  • It is also used to produce useful products such as coke, tar, and coal gas.
  • Coal is a typical conventional solid fuel that has been exploited as an important source of fuel by humankind for thousands of years.
  • The main use of coal is as fuel for electric power plants for which more than 50 % of the coal produced in the world is used.
  • The simplest use of coal is to burn it for heat. Coal was once used as a household heating and cooking fuel in Western nations.
  • Other uses of coal that may be increasingly important in the future are in the production of liquid fuel by direct or indirect liquefication to replace fuels made from petroleum, production of methanol a possible substitute for gasoline and production of synthetic gases.

Fossil Fuels

  • Fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum mainly originate from the buried plants, animals and microorganisms which were buried more than a 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 high pressure for a very long period of time.
  • The 3 main types of Fossil Fuels are Coal, Oil & Natural Gas.
    • Natural coal is formed due to the burial of plants and animals.
    • Petroleum and natural gas are a result of the buried marine life.
    • Fossil fuels are mainly made up of Hydrocarbons.


How is Coal Formed Step by Step?


Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal by the heat and pressure of deep burial over millions of years.

What Are the Four Stages of Coal Formation?


There are four stages in coal formation: peat, lignite, bituminous, and anthracite. The stage depends upon the conditions to which the plant remains are subjected after they were buried: the greater the pressure and heat, the higher the rank of coal.

What is the Element of Coal?


Coal is mostly carbon with varying quantities of other elements; primarily hydrogen, Sulphur, oxygen, and nitrogen.

How Are Coal and Petroleum Found?


  • Coal and petroleum were formed from the remains of dead animals and plants that underwent different biological and geological processes.
  • Coal is the remnants of trees, ferns and other plants that lived several million years ago. Earthquakes or volcanic eruptions have crushed these.

Developed by: