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Coal has been reported from numerous locations in Antarctica beginning about 70 years ago. Only since about 1960, however, have data become available on petrologic and analytic studies. Nearly all Antarctic coal deposits are in the Transantarctic Mountains of East Antarctica, that portion of the continent lying mostly south of Africa, Asia, and Australia. All appear to be of Permian age, and most have been altered by contact thermal metamorphism; they range in rank from low-volatile bituminous to semianthracite. The coal beds generally lack marine deposits and underclay. In addition to those in the Transantarctic Mountains, coal deposits have been reported from the Prince Charles Mountains. Coals in the Prince Charles Mountains mostly are unaffected by thermal metamorphis and have a rank of high-volatile bituminous. Most coal deposits in Antarctica have very limited horizontal extent; beds range to 3 or 4 m in thickness, but are generally thinner. Except for some deposits in the coastal parts of the Transantarctic Mountains and those in the Prince Charles Mountains, coal is found mainly in the interior of the continent. The location of most coal poses a major transportation problem for potential mines. Some coal could possibly be mined and used locally as an energy source for heating or power production. Another potential problem, yet to be resolved, is the matter of territorial claims, which might dictate the ownership of mineral deposits.
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