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An erosional hiatus over almost the entire area between Pennsylvania and western New Brunswick suggests that the region was mountainous from the Middle Devonian Acadian orogeny through Pennsylvanian time. Of seven basins or deposits of southeast-era New England, the ages of three (Narragansett, Norfolk, and Worcester) are florally determined as Westphalian B (Middle Pennsylvanian) to Stephanian B or C (Late Pennsylvanian); three lack flora but are of inferred Carboniferous age (North Scituate, Woonsocket, and Pin Hill), and one is of possibly Carboniferous age (Sturbridge). The first three are characterized by flora suggesting a tropical or subtropical climate and by alluvial fan facies deposited in an intermontane basin. Four of these basins or deposits lie in the Avalon Terrane, three just west of the Nashoba Terrane, but none has been recognized in the intermediate Nashoba Terrane. These basin deposits can be correlated with similar deposits in Atlantic Canada.

Tectonic effects of the Alleghanian orogeny are many and diverse, resulting in important tectonic controls on the formation and evolution of the coal basins. Grabens surrounded by uplands were formed by extension or strike-slip fault-related extension and were filled with Carboniferous sediments during the earliest Alleghanian orogenic episode. These sediments along with the basement complex, were multiply deformed during Permo-Carboniferous Alleghanian orogenic episodes, which involved folding, thrust faulting, plutonism, regional metamorphism, and strike-slip faulting. Metamorphism throughout the outcrop areas ranges from anchizone to K-spar zone in the Narragansett Basin; anchizone to possibly lower greenschist in the Norfolk Basin; and below the almandine zone in the “Worcester Coal Mine” deposit. Important effects of the tectonism are the widespread anthracitization and tectonic thickening of the low-sulfur and high-ash coals.

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