bituminous coal - teaching hand specimen of a high grade bituminous coal from the King II Mine, Hesperus, Colorado
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This bituminous coal is close to anthracite. It is highly prized for burning with very little ash. It has the hard shiny surface of anthracite, but not the conchoidal fracture. Coal forms from the burial of accumulated plant material, in a series with increasing compaction from peak to lignite to bituminous coal and then anthracite. The first three are considered sedimentary. Anthracite is metamorphic as it has undergone low-grade metamorphism, burns hotter than other coals and with a clean blue flame.
The name anthracite was derived from the Greek word anthrax, the name given to it by the philosopher Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle. Bituminous coal was named under the mistaken impression that it contained bitumen, a group of hydrocarbons including tar and asphalt.
This coal is from the King II near Hesperus, Colorado. It is Cretaceous in age, from the Menefee Formation of the Mesaverde Group. Hesperus is in the San Juan Basin, a major coal producing area in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
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