The Rock and Fossil Sequences: A Summary
A friend in Europe asked for a summary of our explanation of the rock and fossil sequences in the geologic column. His specific questions and the responses follow. Following his initial questions, he responded to the answers with more questions, which are also answered below.
The Rock sequence: A Summary of Geology
There are several key points which must be made. First, a comparison of Genesis 1:29-30; 6:21 and 9:2-5, show that mankind and all the creatures were vegetarian before the Flood. In the Paleozoic, we see many examples of creatures eating each other. This is reproduced numerous times in Mesozoic and Cenozoic strata. So the Flood must have happened before Paleozoic and later strata were laid down.
Second, strata in Spain have massive Paleozoic coal measures (which stretched across to the USA as part of an original supercontinent). Above these coal measures is a siliceous sponge reef which stretches from Spain to Germany and across to Romania. These sponges are growing in situ and are upright, not washed in. Then on top of the sponge reef are layers of dinosaur nests. The coal, the reef and the nests go through both Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata. It is impossible to get this sequence of events grown and in place and fossilized all in one year, even using enhanced processes. That scenario is basically reproduced in China as well. So the evidence is that the Paleozoic strata were not formed in one year, as the ecological systems took time to build up.
Third, there are at least two different horizons of coral reefs formed in Paleozoic strata. Because of their extent and continuity and the fossils in growth positions, it is impossible for those reefs to be "washed into place" as debris, even huge chunks of debris, from other systems. Under these conditions, it would take reefs much longer than just one year to form even with the enhanced processes that the lower ZPE allows. As a result, the Paleozoic strata must have formed over a period of greater than the 1 year of Noah's Flood.
You then ask when or how the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic strata were formed. That is the basic Zero Point Energy (ZPE) geological model summary. Let me come at this in a slightly different way from your immediate question. The ZPE data give strong support for what I am about to say. All the scientific data and details about this are either on our website or in the Monograph Cosmology and the Zero Point Energy, or both. So, rather than explain every detail, I am going to cut a few corners to get this to you in time for your appointment.
The geologic column is made up of 4 Eras separated by 3 catastrophes. The Eras are the Archaeozoic or Precambrian. It was essentially closed by the "Snowball Earth" catastrophe about 750 million atomic years ago. This catastrophe was followed by the Paleozoic Era which ended in the Permian extinction about 251 million atomic years ago. The Era which followed was the Mesozoic which was terminated by the Cretaceous/Tertiary (or K/T) extinction at 65 million atomic years ago. Following that event, the Cenozoic strata built up, and included an ice-age starting about 1.8 million atomic years ago. So geologically we have 4 Eras, 3 Catastrophes. These dates are all on the atomic clock. This is explained in laymen detail in our short book, "The Bible and Geology."
The Bible in Genesis 1-11 also has 4 eras with 3 catastrophes, but here we find the data given in orbital years, the time it takes the earth to go once around the sun. First, there was the period from Creation to the Flood, which ended with the catastrophe of the Flood about 2256 orbital years after creation. Then the 250 to 300 orbital year period from the Flood to Babel which ended with the Babel catastrophe. Then, according to the LXX chronology, the period of 225 to 250 years from Babel to Peleg, which ended when the continents divided (Genesis 10:25 literal Hebrew) as the 3rd catastrophe. Following the Peleg continental division, we go on for about 800 orbital years to the times of Abraham.
Let us follow another trail for a moment. The Zero Point Energy (ZPE) research shows that atomic clocks ticked more rapidly when the ZPE strength was low in the early days of our universe. This happened because the ZPE strength controls the electric and magnetic properties of the vacuum. Because atoms are made up of charged particles in motion, they are basically electric and magnetic in character, so they are affected by the ZPE as the properties of the vacuum alter. In contrast, the ZPE research shows that astronomical orbital phenomena are unaffected by ZPE changes. This means that orbital clocks and orbital time, like our measured years, remain unchanged while atomic clocks vary with ZPE strength. Astronomical data tell us how the ZPE has changed over time, so we can draw a curve of ZPE behavior or atomic clock behavior. This allows atomic dates to be corrected to orbital dates.
When this correction is done, there emerges an amazing correspondence between corrected atomic time and orbital time such that the Snowball earth catastrophe and the Flood are essentially the same event. The Permian extinction and the Babel catastrophe are also coincident. The K/T extinction and the Peleg continental division correspond in time as well. The data from the Book of Job show that the ice-age was occurring then as the agreement between corrected atomic time and orbital dates of Job’s existence is once again very close.
Thus the Archaeozoic or Precambrian strata were laid down during the 2256 years (LXX chronology) from Creation to the Flood. The Paleozoic was laid down during the 250 to 300 years from the Flood to Babel. The Mesozoic was laid down in the interval of 225 to 250 years from Babel to the Peleg continental division, while the Cenozoic was laid down from the time of Peleg to the time of Abraham (about 800 years in total). The ice-age in the days of Job occurred about 200 years after Peleg. The ice-age ended about 450 years later in 2345 BC with the Dodwell axis tilt bringing the earth more upright. The whole geological column was therefore built up over a period of about 3500 orbital years. In this time three major catastrophes occurred which divided the geological Eras and brought about different environmental conditions in the following Era allowing for different predominant fossil types in those Eras.
The next aspect of your question concerns how it was possible for these strata to build up rapidly over this 3500 year period. The brief answer is that it was because the earth was very active geologically in this time. This may be explained in the following way. According to plasma physics the earth and all planets started off already layered and cool because of the Marklund convection process in the filament out of which they were formed. This process means that radioactive elements were concentrated towards the cores and heated the interiors of the planets.
In the case of Venus, Mars and Earth, as the heating went on, water was driven out of the crystal structure of the rocks and built up under the crust. Some rocks also melted and formed magma. Eventually the pressure of the water got so great that it burst out as a massive "degassing" episode, which we know has happened on Venus and Mars. In the case of the Earth, this degassing episode was the Flood. But that was not the end. The earth interior was continuing to heat and becoming more and more mobile as progressively greater portions became molten. By the time of the Peleg event, all the Earth’s mantle had become molten. Molten rock has an increase of 10% in volume over hot but solid rock. So pressure was again applied to the crust. Eventually the crust split along the mid-ocean ridges, the plates separated, magma poured out and the Atlantic Ocean was formed. The separation process would have taken several hundred years. So the answer to that part of the question is that the increasing heating of the earth interior supplied the geological energy for the activity that built up the strata between the catastrophes.
The final point that needs to be made is that each of the catastrophes had a trigger event. It was rather like a pin pricking a balloon. That event in each case was the impact, or a series of impacts, of massive bodies from the asteroid belt. Briefly, the evidence is that a planet and its moon used to exist between Mars and Jupiter and that the same internal radioactive heating processes as operated on Venus, Earth and Mars actually caused the original asteroid planet and its moon to explode.
There are three main divisions in the asteroid belt based on composition. The inner belt is made up of material that closely resembles a planetary mantle made of silicates. The middle belt is made up of material that can be found in and around a planetary core, namely nickel and iron with some rock mixed in. The outer belt is mainly carbonaceous material corresponding to the composition of a moon.
We can find out when the three explosions occurred that gave rise to these three types of asteroids by measuring the cosmic ray exposure ages of the fragments. These data reveal that the planet mantle broke up first because of its high water content giving rise to the silicate asteroids. Then because of the ongoing excessive heating, its core exploded, giving rise to the nickel-iron and stony iron types of asteroid. Finally the planet's moon disrupted because of the same internal heating, giving the carbonaceous types of asteroid. Meteorites are small fragments from these explosions and are of the same types of material. It is important to note that the cosmic ray exposure ages, a form of atomic clock, show that the break-up times of these bodies preceded by only a short period the times of the geological catastrophes on earth. In this way, the entire sequence of events becomes explicable.
The Fossil Sequence: A Summary of Paleontology.
Setterfield: Allow us to give you an outline. This should be read after the equivalent outline on the sequence of geological strata above.
Several points need to be made to begin. First, the fossil record really does not demonstrate any evolution from one type into another. What we do find is that even the earliest appearance of many flora and fauna show very little difference from similar flora and fauna today. For example, when fossil jelly-fish occur in the Precambrian strata, it is like our jellyfish today. When the first fossil spider appeared in the Paleozoic, it had spinnarets for spinning silk and tarsal claws for weaving webs. It was very similar to the web-weaving spiders of today. When the first bat appears in the fossil record, it is obviously very similar to bats today. When a Kauri pine occurs in the Mesozoic, it is easily recognized as the same tree as we have today. In fact, on the cover of that beautiful book, The Greening of Gondwana, by Mary White, there is a photo of a fossilized sprig of leaves from a Kauri Pine, side by side with a similar sprig from a modern tree. The caption read "Kauri Pine: Little change in 175 million years." This sort of thing is reproduced over and over for much flora and fauna. There is very little evidence of transitional forms leading up to these established types. The conclusion is that there is no evidence of evolution in much of the fossil record.
What is apparent in the fossil column is the record of extinctions. For example, Trilobites were prominent in the Paleozoic and then were wiped out at the Permian catastrophe, which eliminated up to 95% of existing species. Similarly, many dinosaurs were prominent in the Mesozoic, but most were wiped out at the K/T extinction event which eliminated as much as 80% of existing species. These wipe-outs are understandable, given the massive nature of these catastrophes. This, then, gives us a clue as to why we see the changes in the fossil record. A catastrophe will wipe out existing species and their habitat. The new environmental conditions after the catastrophe allows a different, but surviving, set of flora and fauna to become dominant, at least in the geologically active areas where deposition and fossilization was occurring.
So the fossil strata are a record of catastrophic extinction. The dominant types which then filled the new ecological niches were those which survived the catastrophe and were favored by the changed conditions. Obviously, these took a little time to build up in size and population numbers after each disaster. But this is not evolution of one type into another. Rather it is a record of how one set of species was replaced by another set which had been in a minority before, but which had survived the catastrophe and then began to thrive in the new conditions. The life-forms which were fossilized were those in the geologically active areas. There were probably other forms elsewhere.
With this information, we can now reconstruct something of what happened with the fossil types and the reasons for it.
As we examine the 4 main Eras with these facts in mind, we must start with the Archaeozoic. The Zero Point Energy (ZPE) research has shown that algae would proliferate in that Era. The reason is that their photosynthesizing mechanisms were favored because the number of photons arriving per second was significantly higher in those early days. This was true even though the overall intensity of light was the same, because the amplitude of the light waves was lower. Thus more photons of lower amplitude gave the same overall brightness as today. The layman's explanation is in "Data and Creation" on our website. The technical cause of this effect is explained more fully in the Monograph Chapter 10 and in Section 6 of this paper published in 2012.
As a result, photosynthetic algae and stromatolites are prevalent in the Archaeozoic. In addition, both geological data and the Bible indicate there were massive geyser systems in the Archaeozoic. Genesis 2:6 says that "fountains" or "geysers" sprang up from the earth on land and are probably the land version of the "fountains of the deep" in the oceans of Genesis 7:11. These pulsing geysers have been shown to produce the Oklo uranium deposits with the action of algae. So, too, were the massive banded iron formations of this Era. Both required pulsing geysers and the action of large numbers of algae. In each case, these deposits formed in the geologically active areas in the pre-Flood Archaeozoic Era.
The initially low strength of the ZPE resulted in an enhanced rate of radioactive decay in the earth’s interior. This caused the interior to heat rapidly and drove water out of the crystal structure of the rocks towards the surface. This then resulted in the massive geyser systems of the Archaeozoic. However, as the heating continued the pressure of water under the crust became extreme. Therefore, when the impacts occurred which triggered the Flood, scalding water which was chemically rich burst out from under the crust. It chewed out the crustal material and jetted the mixture to great heights. Because of the pulverizing action of the debris, and the violent rush of chemically rich water, which had incredible dissolving power, flesh and muscle tissue would be shredded and dissolved. The violence of this process therefore left no fossils, apart from the carbon-rich sediments which contained large amounts of kerogen, the break-down product of muscles. This can be found, for example, in the Tapley Hill sequence which is part of the Snowball Earth strata in South Australia.
The Paleozoic Era was immediately after the outgassing of waters from the interior which the Bible calls the Flood. There were large bodies of warm shallow water remaining from the Flood process. This favored the shallow water dwellers as well as algae, mosses and ferns plus insects and amphibians. These would have been fossilized in the geologically active areas. As the Era progressed, flora and fauna grew and attained giant sizes because of a low ZPE strength at that time. For the plants it happened because of an increased number of photons of lower amplitude allowed more prolific photosynthesis. For animals, the transmission of nerve signals was more rapid, again because of a lower ZPE strength. This lower strength meant the electrical properties of the vacuum were different so that electric currents were stronger and faster, including those which make up nerve impulses. Animal size is in part determined by the efficiency of the nervous system and how rapidly signals get from the tail of the creature to its brain. So gigantism was common in the Paleozoic. By the end of the Era, flora would have grown to their maximum heights and fauna would have multiplied and grown. So at the close of the Era, the Carboniferous and Permian strata would record the greatest development of these life-forms.
At the time of the Permian catastrophe, 3 million cubic miles of magma were outpoured which now go to make up the Siberian traps. These strata were outpoured on the opposite side of the Earth to the massive impact structure in Wilkes Land in the Antarctic. This massive volcanic episode raised the carbon dioxide level to about 10 times what we have today. As a result, average temperatures were higher by up to 10 degrees compared with today. In addition, strong jet-stream winds were acting because of enhanced temperature differences. These conditions dried up the shallow bodies of water and made it difficult for the amphibians to survive. The main water supplies were in the river valleys close to the ocean. It was there that the cold-blooded dinosaurs thrived in the hot temperatures. The strong winds also formed many sandstorms in the dune-systems near the ocean, and dinosaurs were trapped in them.
Importantly, the geologically active areas in the Mesozoic were all around the edge of the supercontinent, exactly where the dinosaurs and associated life-forms were situated. The walls of the river valleys crumbling under ongoing earthquakes, coupled with the shower of ash from nearby volcanoes, ensured that these creatures were the predominant fauna fossilized. The strong winds and generally dry conditions meant that the spore-bearing plants that used water to transport those spores for propagation during the Paleozoic were now minimized. Instead the plants that propagate by wind-blown pollen became more prominent. That is why the palms and the pines dominated the drier, windy, geologically active areas of the Mesozoic.
The K/T extinction catastrophe caused another change. First the series of impacts caused a higher axis tilt than we have today. The major impact was also partly in the ocean, as were some others. These impacts therefore lofted large amounts of water vapor high into the atmosphere so it became saturated. The high axis tilt gave rise to massive storm surges which dumped the moisture at the poles as copious quantities of ice and snow. Fossil shells from the Atlantic record these dropping temperatures.
By then, the Earth had severe weather conditions, with 4 distinct seasons. In addition, the carbon-dioxide level was much lower. The deciduous trees survive these conditions best. In addition, the angiosperms or flowering plants with their resistant and protected seeds, which can survive winter conditions, came to predominate. The lower CO2 content of the atmosphere favored the growth of a wide variety of grasses. Because mammals have stable body temperatures, they could also survive better in these conditions than other fauna. So we have the reason why the mammals, deciduous trees, hard-shelled flowering plants and grasses became the predominant types in the Cenozoic Era in which we live today.
In summary, the fossil record is one of creation of all the original types at the beginning. These were then successively reduced in number as the catastrophes went on. After each catastrophe, the surviving types had to acclimatize to new weather and ecological conditions. Then, those which came to be dominant in the geologically active areas were the ones which were fossilized.
The fossils have the following characteristics: A. There are abrupt appearances of the various kinds. B. Each kind remains basically the same with some variations. C. Some kinds become extinct because of the catastrophes. The fossil column is thus a creation – catastrophe – new dominance sequence. It is not an evolutionary development of life forms.
I hope that summary helps answer your questions. Additional laymen's explanations can be found in Time, Life and Man.
The person asking the questions, like many, had thought all the Paleozoic strata were the results of Noah's Flood. After reading the above, the following question and answer series ensued:
Setterfield: In answer to your first question:
The ZPE data indicate that the Paleozoic Era was built up over a period of about 300 years after the Flood. Those 300 years may have been plus or minus 50 years or so. It is important to realize that the Paleozoic strata do not contain sea life exclusively, although the early periods in the Paleozoic do. The later periods contain algae, mosses, ferns, insects and amphibians. Let us be more precise about this.
In the Cambrian and Ordovician periods we find fossils of a variety of marine invertebrates, including trilobites. The Silurian and Devonian Periods had fish, mollusks and corals fossilized, while ferns, trees and spiders also appear as fossils. The Carboniferous and Permian Periods had many giant dragonflies and cockroaches and other insects prominent as land fossils with nautiloids, ammonoids and coral reefs from the sea. The fossil vegetation which is prominent in these two Periods is the giant horsetails, giant seed ferns, and giant club mosses such as sigillaria and lepidodendron. So the fossils come not only from the shallow to deeper water ocean deposits, but also from land-based creatures as well as forests of giant trees, which may have proliferated in somewhat marshy land areas. Many of these types we now see as fossils from the Paleozoic were wiped out by the Permian extinction Catastrophe.
Your immediate problem appears to be how to account for this sequence, especially since much of it is now far inland. To do this, we first need to go back to what happened at the Flood process. Figure 1 is an approximate map of portion of the southern sector of the original supercontinent.
In Figure 1, the red-brown cratons are areas where granite was intruded beneath the surface cover of material around 2.5 to 3.9 billion atomic years ago. This was in response to the impacts from the late Heavy Bombardment on the opposite side of the earth. The antipodal points have magma intruded into the sub-surface cover. These areas were stable during the Flood process. At the Flood, water was outgassed from the earth interior between the cratons as well as where the dykes are marked. The tan colored Pre-Cambrian mobile belts are areas which down-warped around the stable cratons during the Flood process. Sediments that were chewed out by the exploding waters were washed into these dramatically dropping areas along with all the sedimentary cover that had been on top of the craton areas. Because the down-warping was fault-controlled, adjustments along the various fault lines continued on well after the Flood was over. But basically those areas eventually rose to become much of the land we have today. However, in some fault-troughs the activity continued giving rise to the sediments in the blue-green post-Cambrian mobile belts. It is in these areas that the post-Cambrian fossils are found. A similar map may be drawn for the northern part of the super-continent with its cratons and mobile belts. Today, the cratons still stand high with very little, if any, sedimentary cover on them.
Figure 2 is similar to Figure 1 but shows the positions of Australia and Antarctica and their depositional areas on the southern sector of the supercontinent as well.
In Figure 2, the white areas are where there was dry land in the Mid-Paleozoic. The stippled and hatched areas show where deposition was occurring. The stippled areas were partially stable but under shallow water; some deposition could occur there. The hatched areas were geologically active “Mobile Belts.” This diagram should be compared with Figure 1.
So what is happening in these Paleozoic mobile belts is that these areas are continuing to undergo subsidence, uplift and ongoing tectonic activity, with the ocean water flooding into the low areas and then retreating as the region was uplifted, and then perhaps dropping again. These processes would bury and fossilize various life-forms depending on where and when it occurred. The first creatures to be fossilized in the Cambrian and Ordovician will be those from a shallow ocean environment. These sea creatures were all survivors from the Flood as it was only those creatures on dry land which were wiped out (Genesis 7:22).
After the Flood, the mobile belts continued to be mobile, so the activity continued, with any given area sometimes dry land, sometimes marshy, sometimes under a relatively shallow ocean. A similar statement may apply to the partially stable stippled areas in Figure 2. On the temporarily uplifted land or marshy areas, plants like algae, mosses and ferns, as well as insects would become established. The insects would have survived the Flood in reasonable numbers on vegetation mats. That got their populations off to a good start coupled with the warm, marshy humid conditions in the post-Cambrian mobile belts. Then, as that part of a mobile belt dropped, and sediments and volcanic mudflows engulfed them, the land plants and insects would have been fossilized. These formed the Silurian and Devonian fossils.
Finally as the Era progressed, the amphibians had been given time to grow and multiply. Because they were water-loving, they, too, were living in the mobile belt areas, whose activity eventually fossilized them. In a similar way, the forests of giant lepidodendron and sigillaria, tree-ferns, and so on, were in regions which were stable enough to allow the trees time to grow before being fossilized when that part of the mobile belt dropped. In a number of places with ongoing activity, there would have been multiple layers of fossils. Then the Permian extinction hit.
So in answer to your question, there were some regions where the ocean definitely came a long way into what are now the continental areas and ongoing tectonic activity dropped those areas and then thrust them up again. We have the record of where that happened by the above maps showing where the mobile belts were located, as that is where these fossils were formed. You did, however, make a very perceptive statement. With all this earthquake activity, there would have been mega-waves from the ocean as part of the scenario.
One other point now needs to be made. After each Catastrophe which ended the Eras, a different set of Mobile Belts was activated by the impact processes which caused the Catastrophes. So, for example, after the catastrophe of the Permian Extinction (corresponding to Babel), the mobile belts during the Mesozoic Era (Babel to Peleg) were around the edge of the super-continent. Here is a map of the Mesozoic situation in Figure 3 with Mobile Belts in black.
Answer: We have already pointed out the fact that more than just sea-life is preserved in Paleozoic strata. Furthermore, we pointed out that the sea creatures, the insects and probably some amphibians survived the Flood outside the Ark. The insects and amphibians could do so on floating vegetation mats. In any case, the insects would multiply very rapidly in the warm humid conditions of the mobile belts immediately after the Flood, and that is where they are found.
There is an additional matter that you raise here as well. The animals that were on the Ark had about 300 years to grow and multiply before the end of the Paleozoic, but they are not seen in the Paleozoic fossil record. First, we would not expect to see any signs of such life in much of the Paleozoic strata since their numbers would be very low initially because of relatively long generation times. Indeed, there are no such fossils in the early Paleozoic.
Second, those creatures like insects whose numbers built up rapidly in the humid environment do appear in the fossil record of the mid-Paleozoic. Finally, as time went on and numbers started to build up, even amphibians are recorded. Bear in mind that those creatures which were fossilized had to be dwelling in the marshy environment of the mobile belts. This gives us a third reason why some creatures are not fossilized there. A number of those creatures from the Ark do not appreciate the marshy environment of the mobile belts. In addition, many are sensitive enough to keep away from areas with continuing earthquakes and shaking land surfaces. From the reaction of our dogs, horses and goats, they would rather flee the area that put up with ongoing problems like that! Do not minimize what was happening in those mobile belt areas.
Third, you mentioned the Mesozoic. Those creatures which appear in the Mesozoic do so after another catastrophe has changed the ecological and weather conditions. The temperatures in the Mesozoic were about 10 degrees C above the average temperatures today and it was very windy. These conditions made it difficult for the plants which propagate by water-borne spores to survive in large numbers. Rather, the trees that propagate by wind-blown pollen (palms and pines) became prominent. Likewise, the amphibians suffered greatly, but these conditions favored the cold-blooded reptiles with their hard-shelled eggs. The dinosaurs may have been in this category.
In addition, there were different depositional zones or mobile belts as shown in Figure 3. Much of the land we are familiar with now was standing high. But around the edges of the supercontinent, where rivers drained into the sea, there were large quantities of water. It is here where many life-forms gathered. But those creatures, like humans, that objected to incessant earthquake and volcanic activity would live elsewhere in the more stable areas, and so would never become fossilized under those conditions.
So, in summary, the reasons why some life-forms only appear in the Paleozoic and some in the Mesozoic are multi-faceted, but largely dictated by the catastrophe which ended the old Era, the new environmental conditions, and the location of the Mobile Belts in the new Era. In addition, a large, stable population of mature individuals must have built up in the regions of geological activity.
Answer: First, consider the situation; the originally cool, layered earth, was heating up in the interior by rapid radioactive decay (because the ZPE strength was low). As it did so, water was driven out towards the crust initially and was later outgassed catastrophically as the Flood. As the heating continued, the mantle became increasingly mobile which meant that geological activity was also increasing. The fault-lines that formed at the time of the Flood, but had not been fully mobilized then, became increasingly active. It is acknowledged that mobile belts which activated during the Paleozoic in the northern part of the supercontinent, were established about 700 to 800 million atomic years ago, the time of the Snowball Earth catastrophe, which corresponds to the Flood.
As the earth heated up and geologic activity increased, a major feature developed in the Northern sector of the supercontinent in the late Paleozoic. This was a fault-controlled trough which extended across what is now Europe and the USA. The extent of this trough is shown by the hatched area in Figure 4. It is the sequence of events in this trough which formed the major Upper Carboniferous coal measures presently found in the USA, Britain and Europe. After the coal measures were laid down in this trough, granites were intruded into these regions giving rise to a suite of ore-deposits characterized by tin, tungsten, silver, copper, lead and zinc. Following this process, folding and thrusting occurred in the region, some of which was associated with the Permian Catastrophe. So it is apparent the earth was becoming increasingly active by this time.
The giant coal seams of the late Paleozoic are associated with accumulations of crushed or broken rock particles called clastics, some being very finely ground up. The coal was formed by the violent deposition of masses of plant life. The broken roots (called stigmaria) and stumps along with shredded limbs and vegetation all indicate that the material had been torn up and carried into these areas layer after layer. Fossils in the coal indicate that the vegetation is composed of species such as sigillaria and lepidodendron, more generally known as giant horsetails, giant club-mosses, giant tree ferns and the like. Similar deposits of coal of the same age and composition also occur in China and Australia through deposition in down-faulted areas whose activity coincided with that in Europe. The thickness of the coal measures varies considerably from one location to another, even regionally. For example, in Britain they are 1500 meters thick in Lancashire, but only 700 meters thick in South Staffordshire, a distance of about 120 km apart. The maximum thickness is 6000 meters in the Westphalia region of Germany.
The coal sequences come in two varieties; there are those in the large external basins associated with oceanic activity and those in much smaller internal basins where the associated strata were derived from land-based sediments. In each case volcanism was involved in the process. In the case of the smaller internal basins, they developed as a result of down-faulting of narrow blocks of the crust on land and associated volcanism. The result would have been like the situation with Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake only on a much larger scale. The local vegetation was ripped up by the volcanism and deposited in the dropping troughs along with land-based material. The forests which supplied this material were extensive. Different portions of these forests were involved in the series of ongoing volcanic episodes with the mudflows taking the vegetation and detritus down to the local low-point in that particular basin. The vegetation was rapidly buried by this process, and acted on by volcanic fluids to form the coal. The amount of coal in these internal basins is small in comparison with the external basins, but the quantities involved are still significant because of the size of the associated forests which had a long time to develop before the down-faulting began.
Apart from the marine fossils, a feature of the external basins is a repeating succession of similar strata between the coal layers. It is often suggested that each succession reflects a major dropping of the fault block initiating the sequence. While this may be true, the subsidence of the trough and its basins was occurring fairly rapidly on this model. So it seems likely that each repeating succession may reflect not only a drop in the fault block, but also the successive churning tsunamis that each drop caused. These tsunamis would bring in mud, clastics and other material along with the vegetation from nearby areas. The associated volcanism would aid this and the subsequent coalification process.
I hope that this more detailed treatment gives you a deeper understanding of the situation.