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No. 35: Sep-Oct 1984

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An Extraordinary Peat Formation

Most of Beauchene Island, in the Falklands, is covered with a tussock-forming grass. During the past 12,500 years, a deep accumulation of exceptionally dense peat has formed. The basal peat is lignitic, but is several hundred times too young to be a true lignite. This peat does not decay as rapidly as it should, given its populations of bacteria, yeasts, and other fungi. The peat accumulates about ten times faster than in other peat-forming regions. The authors conclude that the peat-forming process is poorly understood.

(Smith, R.I. Lewis, and Clymo, R.S.; "An Extraordinary Peat-Forming Community on the Falkland Islands," Nature, 309:617, 1984.)

Comment. If we do not understand how present-day peat forms, how can we be so dogmatic about coal-forming processes millions of years ago?

From Science Frontiers #35, SEP-OCT 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss