Grass in the Carboniferous.

James Mahaffy (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 13:46:02 -0500 (CDT)


I found this post interesting. Those of us (like me) that work with
coal often tend to dismiss something like the floating mat hypothesis
and then we get Glenn suggesting that grass could form the Pittsburgh
coal. If I am not mistaken grass in an angiosperm and there is no
paleobotanical evidence (pollen or macrofossil) of it being present in
the Carboniferous. It doesn't help if we miss the basic plants that
were present. I would have to go back to look at it, but the spores and
compression fossils of the Pittsburgh coal are quite well known. In fact if I
am not mistaken Aureal Cross wrote one of the first big and good studies
of coal using this seam. There would be herbaceous plants (several
lycopods among others - that sometimes produce a lot of coal). However,
I doubt if that is a good enough explanation. The Herrin Coal, which I
work with, had a lot of arborescent lycopods (these are the ones that
usually produce the trunks Bill is referring to) yet generally you do not
find a lot of trunks in the coal.

In any case, I was cleaning up some files and had to repond to angiosperm
grasses in the Carboniferous - let at least use the plants which we know
were there. On second thought, we can't all be experts on all the areas
and we shouldn't let that keep us from talking about them.

> the lack of tree trunks other than possibly as being due to the fact that
> there were no trees going into the formation of that coal. And if vitrine is
> available from other sources as grass, then the Pittsburgh coal seam might
> have gotten its vitrine and carbon from those plants.
> You
> >seem to be so committed to a local flood that you refuse to admit the
> >obvious - the subaqueous origin of the Pittsburgh Coal. It's just one
> >little 15,000 square-mile deposit, Glenn. Quit running from the
> >question and give us an answer: Based upon the direct empirical data
> >you provided (and not your imaginary scenarios of why the global flood
> >is impossible) is the Pittsburgh Coal a subaqueous or an in-situ swamp
> >deposit - or something else?
> Fine, Bill, even if the Pittsburgh Coal was from a subaqueous environment and
> a floating mat, does that really prove the global flood? No. It is
> consistent with the flood but provides no proof of a global flood. There
James Mahaffy
Biology department
Dordt College,
Sioux Center, Iowa 51250