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Coal In Pa
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Coal In Pa


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Presentation covers formation of coal and the history of the mining industry in PA.

Presentation covers formation of coal and the history of the mining industry in PA.

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  • 2. Introduction
    • Uses:
    • - Generate electricity
    • - Iron and steel production
    • - Medicines, plastics, synthetic rubber, fertilizer, cosmetics, food products, paint, dyes, fibers of our clothes
  • 3.
    • History
    • - Stretches back over 250 years
    • - Aristotle (Greek philosopher) mentioned coal in his book Meteorology
    • - Became major industry with invention of steam engine (1700)
    • - Coal in PA: 1 st mentioned in 1752 (mapped by John Pattin near Saltsburg)
  • 4.
    • Coal as an industry in PA
      • Greatest year: 1918
        • 330,000 miners
        • 277,000,000 tons
        • $705,000,000 at the time
    • 1930’s: Great Depression
      • Production grinds to a stop
      • Oil and natural gas became common
  • 5.
    • 1960-1990: Production drops further due to
    • - Rise of electric utilities
    • - Nuclear energy
    • - More strict environmental regulations
  • 6.
    • Coal output in PA in 2004 totaled 75,000,000 tons
    • 50% now comes from large underground mines in Greene County
    • 7,000 Pennsylvanians were directly employed in coal mining in 2004
  • 7. Environmental Issues
    • Mining has side effects
    • - Acid drainage pollutes streams
    • - Disruption of groundwater resources
    • - Soil erosion
    • - Scarring of the land (abandoned waste piles)
    • These effects, although more regulated, can be expected to persist
  • 8. What is coal?
    • Miners say, “A black rock that can be mined in layers for many miles.”
    • Geologists say, “A black mineral made of thermally altered and highly compressed plant material that grew millions of years ago in swamps and then was buried under great thicknesses of sand and mud.”
    • Chemists say, “A rock composed mostly of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen that takes up energy when it is formed and releases energy when it is broken down (burned).”
  • 9. How is coal formed?
    • Areas in PA where coal is found once looked similar to the Everglades of Florida
  • 10.
    • Here, trees and other plants grew abundantly
    • They produced a great accumulation of fallen leaves, twigs, branches and trunks
    • These settled to the bottom of the swamps
    • Stagnant water preserved the dead plant material from decay
    • This accumulation is called peat
    • That is the first step in coal formation
    • Rivers then overflowed into swamps
    • This buried the peat under thick layers of mud/sand
    • The peat was now fully protected from decay
  • 11.
    • Bacteria then began to break down the peat
    • They stripped the plant material to rotted wood/leaves
    • As mud/sand layers grew thicker above, the peat was compressed tighter
    • As the peat was pushed further and further down, it became exposed to hotter temperatures
    • The increasing heat turns the peat to lignite, subbituminous coal, bituminous coal, and , finally, anthracite
  • 12. Distribution of coals in PA
  • 13. Coal Reserves in PA
    • Prior to any mining, PA had reserves of over 107,000,000,000 tons
    • Approximately 31,400,000,000 tons have been mined
    • That leaves 76,000,000,000 tons untouched
    • What remains seems thinner, more difficult and more expensive to recover
  • 14. How do we use our coal?
    • Electric power generation (77%)
    • Coke for iron making (4%)
    • Retail sales to small consumers (<1%)
    • Industrial uses (6%)
    • * Some of our giant power plants use 10,000 tons of coal a day… That’s 7 tons every minute!
  • 15. Your Future
    • The United States has the world's largest known coal reserves, about 263.8 billion tons.  This is enough coal to last approximately 225 years at today's level of use.
    • But the burning of coal releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
    • We must invest in the development of clean coal technologies in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
    • This will ensure that we can continue to support our comfortable lifestyles while maintaining our wonderful planet Earth.
  • 16. references
    • Edmunds, W.E., 2002, Coal in Pennsylvania (2 nd ed.): Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 4 th ser., Educational Series 7, 28 p.
    • Pennsylvania web site:
    • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
    • Web site:
    • Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey
    • Web site:
    • Energy Kid’s Page
    • Web site: