Black coal – forests form carbon deposits

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Black coal specimen from the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

Fossil of Cladophlebis australis
Source: Museum Victoria

Ginkgoites australis fossil leaf.
Source: Museum Victoria

Cretaceous

Forests of tall conifer trees grew in the rift valley during the Cretaceous. These forests had an understorey of familiar-looking plants – relatives of today’s ferns and Ginkgo tree. Ginkgoites was quite common at this time; related to the modern-day tree Gingko biloba. Ferns like Cladophlebis were also abundant, providing food and shelter for small plant-eating dinosaurs.

Vast amounts of vegetation accumulated in parts of the valley, and over millions of years this plant material turned into seams of black coal. The thickest deposits were in Gippsland. The Wonthaggi coal mine produced 17 million tonnes between 1909 and 1968 – an important source of energy for Victoria.

A TRAIL THROUGH TIME

Vascular land plants appeared in the Silurian. See how they've changed over time.

BaragwanathiaThinnfeldiaAnglesea floraHaddon nutsBrown coal

WHERE IT WAS FOUND

black coal map

Victoria's black coal beds.

RELATED OBJECTS

Other objects from the Cretaceous

PlatypterygiusMuttaburrasaurusKoolasuchusBishopsQantassaurusBostrychoceras