This Utah specimen is easy to identify because of its black shiny color and clearly layered appearance, and the ease with which it can be split. It was formed throughout millions of years of the earth’s history as the interiors of continents were covered by warm, shallow seas bordered by lots of large plants. When these plants died, they fell into the water but only partially decayed. As a result, layers and layers of plant material accumulated in the water much more quickly than it could decompose. This went on over millions of years, resulting in literally tons and tons of dead plant matter piled up.
LL Demos & Labs: Rock Profile: Bituminous Coal. Lab: Flattened Ferns & Distilled Fossils