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maceral

/ˈmæsərəl/
noun
1.
(geology) any of the organic units that constitute coal: equivalent to any of the mineral constituents of a rock
Word Origin
C20: from Latin mācerāre to macerate
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for maceral

any of the numerous microscopically recognizable, individual organic constituents of coal with characteristic physical and chemical properties. Macerals are analogous to minerals in inorganic rocks, but they lack a definite crystalline structure. Macerals are coalified plant remains preserved in coal and other rocks. They change progressively, both chemically and physically, as the rank of coal increases. (Coal rank is a measure of a coal's degree of metamorphism expressed as its position in the lignite-to-anthracite series and is primarily based on decreasing volatile matter content and increasing carbon content.)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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