The Lower Stockton coal seam of the Upper Pennsylvanian Kanawha Formation, studied in a small area in southwestern West Virginia, is 6 ft (2 m) thick at the center of the coal body, and thins in at least one direction by a combination of splitting and thinning of individual benches. Clastic intervals between coal benches become less extensive upward, suggesting coal-body deposition during the abandonment phase of an upper delta plain distributary channel. Rates of splitting vary through the coal body, necessitating closer drill hole spacing near the edges, where variations are greatest. Documentation of such coal bodies leads to an understanding of their lateral variability. A knowledge of seam variability, types of splitting, and seam characteristics can lead to an effective exploration model.

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