Skip to comments.Ancient Rainforest Revealed in Coal Mine
Posted on 04/23/2007 8:11:31 PM PDT by A. Pole
Scientists exploring a mine have uncovered a natural Sistine chapel showing not religious paintings, but incredibly well preserved images of sprawling tree trunks and fallen leaves that once breathed life into an ancient rainforest.
Replete with a diverse mix of extinct plants, the 300-million-year-old fossilized forest is revealing clues about the ecology of Earths first rainforests . The discovery and details of the forest are published in the May issue of the journal Geology.
Were looking at one instance in time over a large area. Its literally a snapshot in time of a multiple square mile area, said study team member Scott Elrick of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS).
Over millions of years as sediments and plant material pile up, layer upon layer, the resulting bands become time indicators with the newest, youngest layer on the top and the oldest layer at the bottom. Typically geologists peel away a vertical slice of rocky material to look at material, including fossils, over a period of time.
A coal mine offers a unique view of the past. Instead of a time sequence, illuminated in the layer upon layer of sediments, the roof of an underground mine reveals a large area within one of those sediment layers, or time periods.
Miners in Illinois are used to seeing a few plant fossils strewn along a mines ceiling, but as they burrowed farther into this one, the sheer density and area covered by such fossils struck them as phenomenal, Elrick said.
Thats when they called paleobotanist Howard Falcon-Lang from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and William DiMichele, a curator of fossil plants at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
"It was an amazing experience. We drove down the mine in an armored vehicle, until we were a hundred meters below the surface, Falcon-Lang said. The fossil forest was rooted on top of the coal seam, so where the coal had been mined away the fossilized forest was visible in the ceiling of the mine.
Heres what the miners and other scientists saw underground: Relatively narrow passageways wind through the cave, marked off with stout 100-foot-wide pillars to ensure the roof doesnt collapse.
Its like in some bizarre Roman temple with tons of Corinthian pillars that are 100 feet across and only six feet tall, Elrick told LiveScience. As youre walking down these passageways you see these pillars of coal on either side of you and above youimagine an artists canvas painted a flat grey and that is sort of what the grey shale above the coal looks like.
The largest ever found, the fossil forest covers an area of about 40 square miles, or nearly the size of San Francisco. This ancient assemblage of flora is thought to be one of the first rainforests on Earth, emerging during the Upper Carboniferous, or Pennsylvanian, time period that extended from about 310 million to 290 million years ago.
A reconstruction of the ancient forest showed that like todays rainforests, it had a layered structure with a mix of plants now extinct: Abundant club mosses stood more than 130-feet high, towering over a sub-canopy of tree ferns and an assortment of shrubs and tree-sized horsetails that looked like giant asparagus.
[the rest of the article at Yahoo News ... ]
My family had a coal mine up until 1960.
There were leaves on the rocks on the ceiling.
I saw one piece of coal that had a knot in it.
300 million year old rainforest in Illinois? It can’t be. I thought Al Gore invented global warming in January 2001.
Neat! Thanks for sharing.
ILLINOIS USED to be a RAIN FOREST.....don’t tell GoreBull!
Pretty cool, wish there were more pictures!
In this photo released Monday, April 23, 2007 by the Illinois State Geological Survey shows a fossil, part of a fossilized rain forest discovered in coal mines in Vermilion County in east central Illinois. Geologists say the area dates to the Pennsylvania Age, 300 million years ago. Researchers are probing the fossilized area which covers about 15 square miles, all more than 200 feet below ground, and is probably the largest intact rain forest from that period ever studied. (AP Photo/Illinois State Geological Survey)
Which was controlled by a prehistoric Daley family.
A knot? Tell me about it.
i wonder if that’s why the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal.
Why? Simple we know it aggravates you, we had a meeting awhile ago and decided to do this. Everyone is in on it..friends..family...everyone, that is except John McCain but he’s just being a maverick.
For what it’s worth it was Jacques Chirac’s idea. So you can blame him...not that he cares.
I wonder, if someone had found an ancient coal mine in a rain forest, would it have made the news?
I refuse to call jungles rain forests.
Very cool article.
Here is a link off of the same article (Yahoo).
Read it and you’ll see we are quite doomed due to GLOBAL WARMING!
Probably occurred around 4000 years ago during the flood of Noah. But anything important in make believe science must be at least 300-600 million years old to give it the illusional/delusional sugar coating it needs in order to fit into the completely and utter unprovable theory of evolution. First rule of junk science, make it so old as to be completely impossible to prove or disprove.
Why does everything have to be millions of years. The Mt. St Helens eruption changed the landscape in a day. Lakes were removed, rivers re routed and canyons were dug overnight.
Have you seen the iron hammer that was dug from a coal mine that was supposed to be millions of years old? How about the fossilized "foot" still in a cowboy boot manufactured in the 1950's that was dug out of a stream bed in Texas?
When people buy into this stuff, it just shows a lack of common sense. How many armadillo's remain on the side of the road long enough to be fossilized? It must happen quick to cut off the oxygen, and most likely the covering up is what killed them. If you find an animal that was obviously eaten, then the remains would have had to be covered within a short while after. Also, the covering would have to be several feet thick or made of something like clay or molten rock. Otherwise the organic material would still decay over a relatively short time.
When a tree grows it will have branches on it. The wood in the branch is at right angles to the tree.
When you saw the tree for boards, the branch shows up as a round area at a right angle to the board. That is a knot.
I saw a piece of coal that had that in it, so that shows that the coal came from a tree.
You may have thought I was talking about a knot like a knot in a rope. I wasn't. It was a knot like a knot in a board.
At the southernmost part of Oregon, where I5 goes over the summit, there is a spot where you can see the layers of rock for something like 200 feet tall on both sides of the freeway.
I was standing there one day having a smoke and I notived these snaky like things inbetween the layers. So I risked it all and climbed up about 30 feet and broke a couple of them out.
Definitely fossils. Best I can figure is petrified tree roots. Cool!
The pictures show that the leaves retain a green color, which would be the result of chlorophyll, a green photosynthetic pigment found in most plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. How can a 300 million year old fossil, or even one a few thousand years old, retain that pigment unless it was somehow preserved almost instantaneously by some catastrophic event?
You are right, of course, but your thesis will never pass “peer review.”
Doesn’t aggravate me, just curios .....
Thanks for the information. You’re right - I wasn’t thinking tree knot. :)
Science and logic beats hokey mythology anyday.
That being said, I truly would put my life on the line the defend your beliefs. ;-)
Researchers Probe Fossilized Rain Forest
Townhall | 4/23/07
Posted on 04/23/2007 11:44:05 PM EDT by Valin
...thanks to tidal rhythms, the mud deposited on top of this forest is layered, so years can be counted as with the rings of a tree. The 15 feet of sediment that blankets the fossils was laid down in four months -- instantaneously in geologic time. ["Fossils of a 300-Million-Year-Old Forest Found", Discover Magazine, Michael Abrams]
I love this kind of stuff,I always liked old things and digging for fossils and arrowheads,maybe thats why I became a coal miner. There are some strange things in coal,i have seen plenty of them,but the one thing I remember well was a piece of wood,actually a board! no kidding, i picked up a lump of coal that had discoloration,and the crust broke off of it and there was a board,square as any board,looked like wood,actually it was wood,stuck right in a lump of coal.that wood was put there as the coal formed,it was stuck right in the lump.Sadly after keeping it a few years,the kids did it in ,as they did with a lot of old stuff I had. It is a true story though.
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Note: this topic is from April 23, 2007.
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Sounds like you haven't ever actually been to the Hoh Rain Forest. There is some amazing stuff there that is nothing like other Northwest forests. (Pretty long drive out there though. :)
isnt the definition of a rain forest one where the humidity is so high that it actually rains moisture?
The definition of temperate rain forest is based on the amount of precipitation and the average temperature. The Hoh Rain Forest easily qualifies with about 3 times the minimum requirement of precipitation.
The Hoh Rain Forest is on the backside of my parents property albeit maybe sixty miles west ... I’ve been through it.. I’ve seen heavier moss on trees in the Cascades. Everything I’ve ever read on rain forests is that the humidity is so high it actually condenses and falls as rain ... but in any event, now all jungles are referred to as rain forests which is not entirely accurate ....
I'm not sure that your theory of rain forests producing their own rain within the forest canopy is accurate. In fact as far as I can tell from some limited research, this is an imaginary view. Some rain forests do recycle a large percentage of their moisture, but only after it goes up into clouds. Rain forests have that name because there is a lot of rain there. But it is ordinary rain that comes out of clouds in the sky.
They call the Hoh Rain forest here in Washington a rain forest. Outside that area it’s not. The Hoh is in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula where the weather is exactly the same but only the Hoh is classified by the DOI as a rain forest. All forests are being called rain forests for not other reason than political correctness...again, from what I read - the origin of the name “Rain Forest” came out of the Amazon where the humidity is so high that when the moisture collects on the leaves become so heavy it falls as rain - hence the term.
You are wrong. The Hoh is internationally recognized as a rain forest because it has an f-load of rain. It is a temperate rain forest as opposed to a tropical rain forest.
The Hoh is in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula where the weather is exactly the same but only the Hoh is classified by the DOI as a rain forest.
According to the National Park Service there are actually 4 rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula, in the valleys of the Quinault, Queet, Hoh, and Bogachiel Rivers.
Here is a precipitation map of Washington State. As you can see the very darkest purple color on the map, indicating the highest level of precipitation in the state, only occurs in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula.
All forests are being called rain forests for not other reason than political correctness...
again, from what I read - the origin of the name Rain Forest came out of the Amazon where the humidity is so high that when the moisture collects on the leaves become so heavy it falls as rain - hence the term.
I challenge you to find one online reference that backs up your description. And make sure it refers to a rain forest and not a "cloud forest".
I live on the Olympic Peninsula ...on the west side of Hood Canal ... I don’t care what the DOI calls Hoh and surrounding “rain forests” .... they ain’t .....not in the original intent of the name ... it was changed for/in political correctness .... there are no more plain forests anywhere, they’re all rain forests .... no jungles either ... why hasn’t the DOI called the forested area(s) I live in “rain forests”? It’s the same climate same rainfall same trees ....
I LOVE the HOH!! I LOVE Solduc!!! I LOVE the PARK...period!! It is FABULOUS! Beach #1 is TERRIFIC!!!
Yep - all my Seattle and Eastside friends are jealous that I live on the Hood Canal and just a short drive to anyplace on the Peninsula esp. the Hoh ... it’s practically in my back yard (so to speak -) ....
OMG...>EVERYONE should try to see those beaches also...RUBY.... RIALTO.....They are SPECTACULAR!!!! If any Freepers are cruising to Alaska, take a 2 day trip to OLPMPIC NATIONAL PARK!! OMG!! And Lake Crescent....UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL!!
Best thing about Ruby and Rialto is gem hunting ....
Never did Gem Hunting...just the VIEW is a GEM....GOD’S GEM!!! OMG!! It is SPECTACULAR!!!! I miss it...we used to live in Seattle and would go often.
I forgot to ask....what kind of gems???
The best place is where the river empties onto the beach ... you can find ruby like pebbles (Ruby Beach) ... problem is that it’s a long way out from Seattle for most.
We call them gems - but as I mentioned, the ruby like stuff, and also what we call Washington jade ... lots of nice quartz some with gold flake ....
IMG...it is not....We went from Ruby Beach to Seattle via the Ferry is a few hours.
Really, to me the real gem is the VIEW....the VIEW is UNBELIEVABLE!!! HEAVEN on EARTH!!!