Friday, February 08, 2008

What is Peatland? Pretty interesting stuff…

In putting together an earlier post, Pound360 investigated a word that we’ve never seen before, “peatland.” And before you get all arrogant on us, A) we never claimed to be intellectuals, or any more than slightly-below-average-smart and B) the Microsoft Word spell-checker doesn’t no what peatland is either, so there.

Anyhow, Pound360
learned at Wikipedia that peatland is pretty interesting terrain.

How it forms
Peatland is created when plant matter and other organic stuff like dead bugs and animals, “is inhibited from decaying fully by acidic and anaerobic conditions.” Our guess (it’s not fully explained at Wikipedia) is that certain bacteria can’t flourish in peatlands, so organic matter doesn’t get broken down as quickly and efficiently as is does elsewhere.

Where it forms
You can find peatland in the higher latitudes where it’s damp and cool, places like Russia, Scotland, Finland, New Zeland, Canada and United States like Minnesota and Michigan. In most of these places, peat bogs originally formed as glaciers retreated at the close of the last ice age, about 9,000 years ago. About 60 percent of global wetlands, or 3 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by peatland.

Interesting side note, “under the right conditions, peat is the earliest stage in the formation of coal.”

When it burns
Peat is a super carbon-rich material that grows dense and deep, and burns long, slow and hard (super smoulders). According to Wikipedia, once ignited, a peat fire can burn undetected for “months, years and even centuries.” For example, in Indonesia, 1997, there was a particularly intense peat fire outbreak. To this day, over ten years later, “more than 100 peat fires in Kalimantan and East Sumatra continue to burn.”

Peat in the ancient world
Vikings figured out that peat bogs were a source of iron ore, which they used to make swords and armor. Further back, Bronze and Iron Age people figured “nature gods and spirits” lived in peat bogs. So naturally, they would sacrifice people there, and leave the corpses. Due to the “tanning properties of the acidic water” in peat bogs, to this day, we’re still finding the “almost perfectly preserved”
corpses of the sacrificed.


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About Me

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.