Many of the fossil standing trees reported in Kentucky’s coal fields are found in underground coal mines. In mines they are called bells, kettles, or kettlebottoms. The terms come from the tendency of the stumps to have rounded bases (like kettles) when they fall out. This is partly a function of compaction of surrounding rock around the base of the trunk. Fossil tree stumps in mine roofs can have a variety of appearances. To learn more about kettlebottoms in coal mines, go to the Coal Mining Geology section of the Kentucky Geological Survey website.

Fossil tree stumps exposed in the roofs of underground mines are seen from a “worm's eye” view. You are looking up at the base of the trees from where the coal has been removed. Some kettlebottoms (A) retain their roots, so they still look like a tree. Others do not, or the roots are removed when immediate roof rock (called draw rock) is excavated with the coal. (B) In some cases, fossil tree trunks (B) protrude from the roof. Many times they fall out, leaving (C) pockets or holes from which part of the infilled tree stump has fallen.


See Photographs of Kettlebottoms in Mines

See References for Kettlebottoms in Mines

See Photographs of Standing Fossil Tree Trunks


Last Modified on 2023-01-05
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