coal again! (was asteroids and energy)

Jonathan Clarke (
Fri, 19 Mar 1999 07:26:23 +1100

Bill Payne wrote in part:

> Last year Steven Schimmrich challenged me to give a review of a serious
> paper published by Bob Gastaldo in which Bob basically answered Steve
> Austin's "Floating Mat Model" for the deposition of coal. I picked Bob's
> paper apart. I also backed Glenn Morton into admitting that the best
> explanation for the origin of the Pittsburg Coal seam is a model like
> Steve Austin's rather than the prevalent theory in geology that coal
> formed in swamps. I have a fossil tree stump on the back of my pick-up
> right now which measures 24 inches across at the base, about 18 inches
> across at the top, and is about 22 inches tall. This stump came from a
> construction project in Birmingham, AL where 4 coal seams are exposed
> over a distance of about 300 feet. One would think that in 1200 linear
> feet of coal, there would be at least one stump exposed which was growing
> in the "swamp" when the swamp was flooded and buried with mud. There are
> none, only horizontal bedding evident in each coal seam.

"Backed Glenn Morton into admitting"? Now there would be an achievement! I
recall things differently however. One would have to go through the archives
to test whose memory is correct. I recall that you were "backed into a
corner" over rootlets beneath coal. No doubt you recall that differently as

> Recently, when I tried to engage Steve Schimmrich in another discussion
> on coal, he said "I won't discuss this since it was discussed elsewhere."
> I'm beginning to think that many OECs on these lists take a rather sumg
> attitude toward YECs as, IMHO, you did above, and when you run across a
> challenge you can't handle you ignore it.

Careful of allegations of smugness. The real reasons might be quite

Certainly the discussions are often not productive and we often talk past
each other. Perhaps because we are asking different questions and expecting
(or even hearing) different answers to the ones we are getting. We must try
and move forward, not chase ourselves in ever diminishing circles. We see
the same people having the same arguement too often on this list.

This means addressing the real core issues. So let me ask you a question.
What is the real reason you reject the overwhelming majority opinion of your
profession? Is it the evidence? Is it because to do so would undermine your
faith? Or something else?

> So tell me Adam, Steve or anyone: Why is that we find tree stumps and
> trunks above and below coal seams, but not in the coal - at least none
> that I have ever seen? I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I'm asking a
> legitimate question which should be addressed by the OECs. I'd also like
> to know how the Pittsburg Coal seam, which covers 15,000 square miles,
> can have a 4-inch shale split in the middle of the coal seam, which is
> reportedly consistent over the entire 15,000 square miles. That would be
> quite a swamp. As I recall, the Joggins, Nova Scotia tree drawing on the
> FAQ-coal site is typical of what I have observed and
> supports a floating origin rather than having grown in situ in a swamp.

I have seen stumps in coal in the Eocene and Miocene lignites of Western
Australia and Victoria, respectively. So they do exist, although are not
very common. Interestingly, studies of modern peat mounds and the ecological
succusion of ancient ones shows that the climax community of such ombrogenous
bogs (wonderful word!) is often dominated by mosses, with few trees. "Swamp
forest" occurs only in the the early stages of development.

God Bless