Upright Trees in Coal
The autochthonous (or swamp-growth) theory of coal formation is central to the Age of the Earth debate because it was used by German, English, Canadian, and American geologists during the early to middle 19th Century to convince the scientific communities of the world that the Earth was older than the 6,000--10,000 year Chronology portrayed in the Old Testament: where Dragons (now called "Dinosaurs") are described as real creatures that were living at the same time as man (i.e. Job 40:15-24 and 41).
This occurred because there are places in Germany, Canada and the United States where multiple seams of coal occur, one on top of the other, separated by shales, sandstones, clays and limestones, usually in some type of sequential order (known as a cyclothem). In fact, some locations have over 80 seams of coal of various thicknesses. And even though many are less than and inch or two thick, some are several feet in thickness.
Therefore, according to the Peat Bog Theory, the time required for such "forests" to grow upon the spot of their burial, in multiple swampy bogs, and then to be covered up -- over and over -- by the same types of sediments (surely) must have taken many hundreds of thousands (to millions) of years.
At first glance, this view appears to lend some support to the theory of evolution; however, as is discussed in other portions of this site, time is not enough.
On the other hand, if the coals were the result of rafted in vegetation (via a major flood or floods) -- that was buried, again and again during recurring phases, then the coals need not have taken long to form, as they could do so via a single event: such as a catastrophic flood that uprooted virtually all the vegetation on the Earth and buried it under sediments at various different times, perhaps only days, hours, or minutes apart. This is also quite likely in view of the Evidence.
Only one of these views is compatible with the theory of evolution. So if one is inclined to believe in evolution, or to disbelieve in a Creator/God, then he or she would naturally lean toward believing in the peat bog theory of coal formation: which allows for a Long period of time. However, for various reasons, this theory is losing ground today in favor of the allochthonous, drift, or alluvial theory (i.e. a Major Flood or floods), which says that coal seams are laminated sedimentary deposits of mixed up and partially decomposed plant material. This rapid formation view also better explains why such organic deposits are almost always laminated, and in many cases very finely laminated.
For example, the Peat Bog Theory asserts that one foot of coal represents 10 feet of compressed peat. However, when considering the upper drawing below, one will note that the seam in which the trees rest is about 2 feet thick. This would (in theory) represent about 20 feet of peat growth. And since peat grows at about 1 foot every 300-600 years, then 20 feet of peat would represent about 6,000 -- 12,000 years of time.
If such trees grew upon the spot where they were entombed, this would mean that they somehow persisted for 6,000 -- 12,000 years without decaying or falling over, since the lower ones appear to be "rooted" below the coal. However, this poses a problem for the peat growth theory because trees are not known to live for 6,000 years. Also, by the size of their trunks, the trees only appear to be about 100--200 years old. Therefore either something is wrong with this picture, or with the peat-bog theory of coal formation?
Various other instances of trees in coal have also been documented and observed by other writers; a few are mentioned in the author's paper on "Fossil Forests" Parts 1 and 2 (see examples below). One was reported to be 40 feet long and completely enclosed in a very thick coal seam. The author has also found various other instances of upright trees in coal that are from one to three feet thick. And according to Kingsley such occurrences are not uncommon. Below are a few links concerning Fossil Trees (and other artifacts ) found in coal.
strata of the coal
After Bölsche, Wilhelm, Im Steinkohlenwald; 1906-- (Various Eds.), p. 35
After Williamson, William C., A Monograph on the Morphology and Histology of Stigmaria Ficoides,
1887, p. 13. Click Here for Full Size Image.
Note that in the drawing above there are no visible traces of roots even though the tree is sitting atop a laminated Fireclay and clays are supposed to be very good at preserving all sorts of (once living) things: Like (purportedly) 17 "million-year-old" fresh-looking, green and pliable magnolia leaves.
See also: Conifers and the Coal Question,
Coal: How did it Originate, and other articles on this topic.
For additional information and Links see The Fossil Forests of Nova Scotia
Part One and Part Two