How was coal formed?


Find out how coal is formed. Through animation, this video explains how, during the geologic period called the Permian, plant material accumulated in water and was buried by sediments where heat and pressure transformed it from the spongy substance known as peat to the hard carbon material known as coal. Footage courtesy of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

Educational value statement

  • Shows animations depicting Permian environments and the stages of coal formation.
  • Illustrates processes that occur within Earth over geological timescales.
  • Allows the video to be downloaded as a Flash video file.

Key learning objectives

  • Students give examples of how Earth’s surface changes over time as a result of natural processes.
  • Students describe the stages in the formation of coal.
  • Students consider what is meant by the term ‘renewable’ in relation to the Earth’s resources and decide whether coal is a renewable resource.


  • Science Understanding: Earth and space sciences
  • (Geographical knowledge and understanding: Environment)

Australian Curriculum content statements
Science: ACSSU075; ACSSU116; ACSSU153