Utah State Rock - Coal

Coal Train

Coal, Utah's state rock, was enacted by the Utah State Legislature in 1991 (Utah Code). It originates as plant matter that accumulates up in wetlands and bogs. Coal begins to form when anaerobic bacteria break down plant material and convert it to peat through the removal of oxygen and hydrogen. The peat is then buried by sediment and more plant material, raising the temperature and pressure of the peat. As the peat compresses, water and methane gas are forced out, leaving an increasing proportion of carbon. With increasing heat and pressure the peat is converted successively into lignite, subbituminous coal, bituminous coal, and anthracite. Most of the coal mined in Utah is bituminous.

Coal is used during the coking process in steel production, and is burned in power plants to produce heat and electricity. Over one-half of the electricity used in Utah is generated by coal burning facilities. Coal is found in 17 of Utah's 29 counties, but coal mining is primarily concentrated in Emery and Carbon Counties. Coal production in Utah during 1994 is estimated at 24 million tons.

Coal is found in 17 of Utah's 29 counties but mainly concentrated in Emery and Carbon Counties. To the right, a D&RGW coal train winds its way through Carbon County.

Utah's Coal

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