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News Release

23 January 2008
GSA Release No. 08-05

Contact: Christa Stratton

Coal-Fires Science: Ready to Ignite Around the World

Boulder, CO, USA – In spite of the human suffering and environmental dangers they cause around the world, naturally burning coal fires and coal fires ignited by human activities receive little attention from the media, compared to other environmental catastrophes. Unfortunately, few university geoscience curricula devote time to the study of these fires. A new volume published by the Geological Society of America may help change that.

Geology of Coal Fires: Case Studies from Around the World, GSA Reviews in Engineering Geology Volume XVIII, offers a comprehensive overview of coal-fires science, an interdisciplinary area of research that is gaining international attention.

According to volume editor Professor Glenn B. Stracher of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics at East Georgia College in Swainsboro, Georgia, coal fires are responsible for coronary and respiratory diseases and arsenic, fluorine, and carbon monoxide poisoning in humans, often culminating in death. The heat energy, toxic fumes, and solid by-products associated with coal combustion, both at the surface and underground, destroy floral and faunal habitats while polluting the air, water, and soil.

"In addition to addressing these pressing problems, coal-fires science may lead to an understanding of the role played by ancient and modern fires in global warming and Earth's carbon cycle. The affect of coal fires on the chemistry of Earth's atmosphere and life on our planet is unknown," said Stracher. "Coal-fires science is an exciting and critically important field of interdisciplinary research ripe for expansion."

The volume is the first such GSA publication of its kind. It includes the recent research of the world's leading coal-fires scientists, grouped into five sections:

* Spontaneous combustion and greenhouse gases
* Mineralogy and petrology
* Geophysics – modeling
* Geophysics – remote sensing
* Coal fires and public policy

Areas of the world studied include China, Russia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Israel, and the United States.

Individual copies may be purchased through the Geological Society of America online store
or by contacting GSA Sales and Service,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting Jeanette Hammann,

Geology of Coal Fires: Case Studies from Around the World
Glenn B. Stracher (editor)
Geological Society of America Reviews in Engineering Geology XVIII
2007, 278 pages plus index, US$80.00, GSA member price US$56.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-4118-5

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